Buying a wedding dress online can be a great way of saving money ahead of the big day, but there is no guarantee that those bargain designer gowns are actually genuine. Unfortunately, brides-to-be are finding themselves at the mercy of online counterfeiters looking to sell fake wedding and bridesmaid dresses. The rock bottom prices are often too good to be true, and what might seem like a real online deal at the time could turn out to be the opposite.
Counterfeit bridalwear sold online represents a huge problem for both consumers and the companies involved, with some of the biggest luxury brands amongst those businesses commonly targeted.
The growth and anonymity of the internet has made it easy for companies to sell fake and pirated goods. Nearly 7% of worldwide merchandise bought online is counterfeit so when a consumer is a making a purchase as precious as a wedding dress – they need to be extra vigilant and use their common sense when shopping on the web.
Online brand protection specialists, MarkMonitor, offer essential advice on safe internet shopping. Their Vice President, Charlie Abrahams, has compiled the following tips for consumers looking to bag a bargain dress online ahead of the big event.
Before taking the plunge, brides-to-be need to be wary of:
Price: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Counterfeiters are clever, and this means brides must be extra vigilant. If that gorgeous dress is half the price of the one on the company’s site, it’s probably a fake, so search around for the recommended retail price (RRP). Even if the dress has a smaller discount, such as 20%, it is worth checking other elements of the website to see if they stack up. Counterfeiters are wising up and realising that sometimes it can be more convincing the less the dress is reduced.
The site itself: It is important not to be blinded by the look and design of the website, a fantastic, professional-looking site does not mean its law abiding. Some websites may look professional at first glance, however counterfeiters aren’t always so careful about the ‘About’ or ‘FAQ’ page. Bargain hunters should peruse the entire site before making a purchase. As well as checking these sections, other ‘small print’ areas that need to be explored are the delivery details and delivery options, as the less reputable sites are far less likely to bother with these. A good tip is to look at where the company is based and examine whether it matches up with the designer dress company’s details. Also, when giving out payment details look for the padlock sign on the page, which proves the site is secure.
Returns policy: Reputable sites should spell this out for you up front and a sound returns policy is paramount to buying a dress online. If the dress doesn’t fit or is damaged, it will need to be sent back – a bona fide seller should provide an option of how to cancel and where to return goods.
The reputation: Brides-to-be would be wise to do their research before buying their perfect wedding dress on a website. Check whether the site or seller is mentioned on any of the scam warning sites. Do a search for ‘vendor+scam’ and see what comes up.
Check the web address: Impersonation of a brand’s website, what is referred to as ‘cybersquatting’, is on the rise. When doing an initial search for the brand name, the link should be checked to look out for spelling mistakes on both the website and the URL address. If the address begins with https://, the ‘s’ tells the user that it’s a secure site. Some of the big brands have dedicated pages on their websites so consumers can check whether a seller is authorised.
Online marketplaces: Just because the marketplace itself is a brand that is well known and well used, it doesn’t mean the items sold on it are always reputable. Even so, consumers should only use online marketplaces that they know about. A vital step for brides-to-be is to check reviews of the seller before they go for that dream dress, even if it is ‘The One’!