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Online Scams of the Computer Age

by Trevor Rogers

DISCLAIMER: Any opinions expressed or statements made in this article are those of the contributors and/or advertisers, and do not necessarily represent the views of the publisher, staff or management of elocal Limited. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, the publishers assume no responsibility for any errors or omissions, or for any consequences thereof.

I am constantly surprised to find yet another acquaintance, friend, senior citizen who uses their computer to purchase all manner of items from all over the world, online shopping. Some of the purchases are junk and usually the supplier wasn’t checked out thoroughly but the majority by far seem to be satisfied with their transactions. I have an account with Amazon, AliExpress, Banggood, and Alibaba, and have New Zealand postal facilities in three countries making my life drastically easier shipping files and documents to and from the USA, Europe and China in the course of my international work.

Recently I was approached by an elderly lady regarding an item she had purchased, and which had turned out to be a total rip-off. I questioned her and discovered she had been attracted to an item advertised on her home computer. The company was Chinese and the actual address was a Guangzhou industrial address in south China which was vague enough to be impossible to economically trace.

This started me thinking. I have had an excellent relationship in the past with Alibaba, Banggood and AliExpress. I have purchased mobile phones through this huge Chinese company with their impressive access to Samsung and Doogee corporations direct. I am able to obtain the very latest technology at very attractive prices, delivered quickly to New Zealand and my home.

Recently I decided to upgrade my Doogee phone for no reason than my hearing is getting a tad worn out and most phones are not endowed with a loud speaker and adjustable hearing volume. I was aware the latest Doogee phone, an S89, has loud adjustable volume and some other very attractive options including an extremely long life battery, and it was just what I wanted. As usual I contacted AliExpress purchased the phone and it was delivered in 10 days, well packed and lived up to all the claims and more particularly it was exactly what I wanted.

I prefer to have a case for my phone to keep the phone protected and clean and I also carry a couple of credit cards in it. I first went on line looking for a leather case for this model phone, but quickly discovered there were sharks swimming out there and knowing the phone has just been released I knew it was going to be difficult to find a case available yet, which fitted this big phone. At least ten companies claimed to have the specific case, but on detailed inspection I discovered they were just trying to sell me anything to get the business. Cases which certainly wouldn’t have fitted this heavy phone. So back to AliExpress. Do you have a case I asked? We will get back to you within 24 hours, and they did. We have only just received the S89 case specs in the last two days they said but we can offer you a case built to your specs and delivered in 10 days. Ok, I want a premium black leather case with three card holders in the outer case, and a Magnetic Flip Cover. It was delivered in 9 days, superb quality workmanship, air freight and courier delivery total: US8.30 = NZ $11.50!

Out of interest I started to explore the goods which seem to come up on my computer and others daily. I have dealt with another Chinese company in the past, Banggood, and have found them to be reliable, well documented and helpful. So what about this other company that seems to have constant advertisements in my computer every time I open it. “WISH”. My research suggested they buy end of line products and, having purchased them for very little WISH is able to offer them to the public at ridiculous prices. A box of screwdrivers, spanners etc, 774 in total was displayed in its own tool box, and only NZ$18.00. Really! That’s a hell of a deal and only two left. So I impulse purchased and waited and waited for six weeks. Worse their notification claimed the order had been delivered. Then a packet arrived in my mail box with a single small 6mm spanner. I called for a “please explain” and got a computer; try arguing with a computer.

Anyway after much effort and WISH apologies claiming the goods must have been stolen, I was refunded the money in full including postage charge. Not a good look but possibly just a mistake, so I decided to invest $100.00 on purchasing 4 other products. Two tool cases, one with 274 pieces. $NZ 18.00; that’s an incredible price! The second purchase a heavy socket set tool box 799 pieces (sockets etc three sizes) a great workshop item, $NZ 18.00 a wow purchase. Next a 12 piece ratchet spanner set (I have always wanted one of these but they are very expensive) $NZ 22.00. Incredible! And finally I have noticed my two second fingers are getting a little stiff (it’s called trigger finger) I have recently decided to take up playing the guitar again (keeping my fingers limber). I had bought a new guitar several months ago and as I was just at the point of buying an amplifier (the guitar is an acoustic electric guitar) I saw for sale an amplifier on WISH for $49.00. That’s a great buy I thought.

Then the fun started. WISH advised the three tools items had been delivered. They certainly had not! This time I didn’t waste time, I went to Auckland International airport “NZ Post Import” facility. I discovered three items had been sent to Pukekohe sorting facility with the appropriate order numbers. The items had passed customs and gone on to Pukekohe Post sorting. My mail arrived the next day with a single sealed packet, inside were three separate packets with three separate small spanners. The numbers on each packet related to the two tool boxes and the third the “ratchet spanners”. I climbed into the “WISH” computer and after several loud conversations and various threats of legal action, the three orders were cancelled and I was refunded the full money I had paid.

A month and a half had gone by and still no Guitar amplifier so I bought another at a good price from “Music Mania” my local Pukekohe music shop. Finally on Friday 4th June, a packet arrived in my mail box and on opening it I discovered a battery operated tiny toy amplifier 13cm x 13cm x 5cm. Looking at the picture on the advertisement by WISH I decided they had two people sitting on a lawn and the tiny amp on the lawn out from them but blown up to appear to be a conventional amp (my standard amp is 35cm x 30cm x 20cm.) This is unbelievable deliberate misrepresentation, pure and simple scam. I intend that this matter will be resolved.

So what do they hope to gain from this scam? I was talking to a lady just today about WISH and she finally gave me the clue. She had ordered a small item some months ago and received a piece of junk, she called “WISH” got nowhere with the computer response system, gave up and walked away $25 dollars out of pocket. She considered she was an idiot and learned her lesson, don’t buy from WISH.

How many other people worldwide have done the same thing? Consider this, “WISH “will have had your money interest free for at the least an average of 2 months. I suspect a large percentage of purchasers have washed their hands of the matter and walked away leaving free money unencumbered for WISH to use. This is a plain and simple rip-off scam. No different to the Nigerian Scams which cost many people their life savings a few years ago.

So what can we do? Well I can do plenty through the Chinese Embassy and I am. But the best advice is, don’t buy anything from WISH. If you like internet shopping, deal with the well-known companies like Amazon (accountable) AliExpress (accountable) Banggood (accountable). They will all make mistakes, but it’s not deliberate, and is far different to dealing with a mindless computer specifically designed to make you walk away. The best we can all do is get the word around “WISH” is not to be trusted and don’t buy from them.

My investigation has been very interesting and I have no doubt I will get the final $NZ 49.00 owed me and have this under way as I write. I consider myself reasonably intelligent and buying from WISH has been an interesting experience and good investigative journalism. Well the good news is they quit last night, I have a full refund, and I have black listed WISH on my computer system. All Good.

Trevor Rogers is a former Member of Parliament, serving two terms from 1990 to 1996.

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elocal Digital Edition – July 2021 (#244)

elocal Digital Edition
July 2021 (#244)

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