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BBB: Consumer Alert For Holiday Shopping Season

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The Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan has joined forces with the state Attorney General.  They’re warning consumers during the holiday season about a common rip off tactic. 

The Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan along with the state Attorney General issued a consumer alert to bring attention to a practice known as drop shipping. Drop shipping according to the BBB is not your typical online shopping experience.  Here’s Troy Baker, Communications Manager for the BBB serving Western Michigan.

“What drop shipping is, usually people behind the product are just middlemen. They identify a product, usually they find cheap in China, put it on their website, have a mark up for it, then have you buy it from them, but they don’t actually have the product.  They then make an order for that product from China and have it sent directly to you.”

Baker says drop shipping isn’t actually illegal, unless it’s done through deceptive practices, such as over-charging consumers.

“They lie about the original price of the item. If they simply bought if for 4 dollars and sell it to you for 20, then that’s a normal mark up. Every story has a mark-up.  But if they tell you it’s originally priced 50 dollars, and it’s on sale for 20, then that’s deceptive. No one has ever sold that product for 50 dollars.  They’re making that up. They’re just tell you that so you’ll buy and making you think you’re getting a good deal.”

And Baker says the problems don’t stop there.  He says many times consumers after making an order never gets the product.  The website took their money but then never placed the secondary order, and consumers then lose their money.  Baker says you should do research before using online websites you’re not familiar with, especially those found on social media.

“So be wary of the products you see on Facebook and Instagram. Those are often going to drop-shipping items.”

If you suspect a problem, you can file a report on scam tracker. Bbb.org/scam tracker.

They’ve also partnered with the state Attorney general’s office. He says if sites are violating the state’s Consumer Protection act, then could face possible prosecution.

You can find the full report at BBB.org.