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I Love That Dress But It’s From China

| Oct 1, 2012
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I normally love to talk just about fashion and how we use fashion to create that personal style that leads to your special brand of femininity, but some recent experiences in searching for quality clothing online has left a surprising sour taste in my mouth over all the bad customer experiences, poor product quality and well, just plain untruths from many vendors, and especially those in the Far East. So why do we need to talk about this?

Well, let’s say you went online and found just the perfect special occasion dress, a bridal outfit, a prom dress, or maybe just a special costume to fulfill one of your fantasies, Ah! And look at that special price . . . I just saved $200 or more, and I love the beading, and turquoise is my very favorite color. So I order through PayPal for a 3 week delivery time.

Well three weeks go by and still no dress, so I contact the vendor. Oh, yes, we did ship and here’s the tracking number. Well unfortunately a tracking number for China Post only works in China (surprise, surprise). The same is true for other countries as well. But you were going to use an express carrier. We did, China Express. Okay, so I grumble a bit but with the assurances that my package will soon arrive.

And finally it comes and I’m so excited as I tear open the package and hold up the dress of my dreams. Except that’s it so crumpled that I doubt even the dry cleaner will get all those wrinkles out. And wait, it’s not turquoise, but purple, and this beading that made the dress so special is barely attached, and the lace shawl that was part of the purchase is missing.

Well, of course, I immediately email the vendor and well, you know how colors are not true to life on the computer, and I’m sure you can find a seamstress to reattach the beading . . . you know that happens in shipping sometimes. Oh, the shawl was out of stock.

Now, least you think I’m making this up, this story is repeated many times over when you read customer reviews about their online purchases. And oh! IT GETS WORSE. Here are just a few more examples of quality issues.

  • Not as described
  • Missing pieces
  • Wrong color (not what they had in stock when the dress was made)
  • Wrong size (even with measurements given)
  • Rips and poor stitching
  • Fabric so sheer that well, everything underneath shows
  • Burns (was she smoking when she made the dress?)

Without a doubt, poor manufacturing is a major problem and one to which there really isn’t a ready solution other than “Buyer Beware”. You are not likely to get your money back either, so those savings become like a puff of smoke — fast disappearing if you can’t wear the dress. Or whatever your purchase might be.

But they have “return policies”. Hope you have a law degree when trying to interpret those return policies. Most have a set number of days to return an item and some have times that start when you make the purchase – not when you receive it. Then there’s the never-ending back and forth with customer service ending in OOPS! The return period has expired.

There was one incident, and believe me, this is real. The belt was missing. Sorry-out of stock. The sleeves are puffy, not straight. Sorry, wrong picture. I’d like my money back. Sorry, but we already paid the dressmaker. This went on for several weeks. Finally – well then, I’ll just return the dress. Sorry, the return period has expired . . .

PayPal is the frequent method of payment. It’s fast and it’s easy. But when you have problems with the vendor, PayPal, unlike credit card companies will not get involved. This is not a condemnation of PayPal. They are a transaction processing company and nothing more, and their payment mechanisms work well. Just be aware that your money is at risk if the vendor does not provide you what you think you bought.

Vendors also post pictures of items that they do not have (and never did) and their rampant misinformation is frustrating and hurtful. Then you have “Bait and Switch” which large companies with multiple product lines utilize to get clothing buyers to buy electronic goods with their corresponding higher markups. This is really annoying.

Now here’s one that I have difficulty understanding in this modern technological age . . . search engines that don’t work. Computers as you know are very specific and if you put a dot instead of a dash, it may not find what you are looking for. Or more so, the description is something other than what the vendor has named it. I’ve even used the description in a stores advertising and their search engine could not find it. It could be something as simple as clip earring versus clip-on earring. Good search engines like Google and Yahoo will suggest alternate spellings. I guess only large companies have access to this technology. Well, maybe not. Amazon has problems too. Apparently the technology used in their book selection process never made it over to the clothing side.

Did you know that according to a recent survey 1 in 3 people don’t think that complaining is worth the effort. For small value purchases perhaps that is true, but to be out several hundred dollars is another matter, not including the disappointment and lost time and money.

If this was a domestic purchase there are steps you can follow to turn a negative situation into a positive outcome. Traditional advice centering around keeping records, speaking to management, and acting calmly may often work, but in dealing with foreign companies, particularly those that have learned all the marketing tricks and processes for keeping their money, you need to exercise due diligence before you purchase.

First, check out the consumer experience with the vendor. Even the better foreign companies run higher complaint rates than domestic suppliers, but a 20% complaint rate is still better than an 80% complaint rate. Top sales executives across industries have told us that the sales model is broken in most retail companies. Instead of building profitable long-term customer relationships, most sales associates and customer service personnel focus just on transactions.

Here are some sources for checking out possible suppliers:

The next step is to really understand what you are buying. Be specific on the details, measurements, and specifications of the purchase and get confirmation from the vendor. This involves a little more work than filling out an online purchase form and clicking the Buy Now button. Email customer service and confirm the details and availability of the items including any accessories being purchased separately. Be knowledgeable on the shipping options and their cost.

But if all else fails and you still experience a failure in service, there are options. How to complain is a fine art unto itself and if you need help, we suggest you start at How to Complain. This comprehensive site provides much information and resources. For domestic vendors, you can file a complaint with the FTC online; use the agency’s Complaint Assistant form. There is some general information here.

For a foreign vendor, there is less satisfaction but the page for accessing the complaint form also has a link to the site for registering a complaint against an entity in another country.

So, be aware and be smart least you join that increasingly larger group of consumers that are being ripped-off with little or no recourse. Happy Shopping.

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Category: Legal, Transgender Fashion


About the Author ()

Tasi was a transgender, married, lifelong crossdresser. She passed away in late 2018. She’s the founder of the Ladies of the Blue Ridge transgender group in Roanoke VA, a prolific writer, commentator and blogger including fashion articles for Tri-Ess, TG Reporter, Repartee, and Pretty T-Girls magazine. Tasi currently resides in Merida, (Yucatan) Mexico. Her new website, Sister House and her blog, the Fashionable TG Woman are dedicated to fashion and style for the transgendered woman. Tasi’s book, "Top Ten Fashion Mistakes By Crossdressers and How To Fix Them" is available on Amazon or on her site free to subscribers.

Comments (5)

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  1. tasidevil tasidevil says:

    Ladies. First, I appreciate all your comments. For sure the thrill comes with the chance to try on the clothes with the many selections surrounding you. I hope you do it enfemme, because the thrill is even greater then.

    But like Grace, that is not always possible. I think I’m a purple star shopper on Ebay now (that’s a lot) and have had my share of good and bad experiences. Most important is knowing your true measurements and comparing them to the offering. Even then the fit will not always be right, or the material is not as you expected or it looked better in the picture. That’s particularly true for those models in the catalogs.

    And you’re right about the comments on negative feedback. Unfortunately that doesn’t protect you against your own poor judgement.

    It’s a well known fact, although not always appreciated, that that dress on a size 6 model, or even a size 14 model, will not look the same if you are a size 26. Then as much as I love them, those sales ladies will usually tell you want you want to hear. When was the last time a sales lady ever said, “well maybe you would look better in a different color or it really doesn’t look that good from the back”. Building a relationship with just one saleslady you trust is helpful
    My article was written because of my frustration with online shops as I searched for quality merchandise that I could stand behind and recommend to my sisters. That’s not saying that all online shops are bad but quality is an issue with all of them including the large American retailers. I’m fortunate to have a discriminating buyer in my household and she has pointed out many a flaw that I simply was unaware of. There there is the simple lack of fashion from many of the offerings, but that’s a future article ?


  2. says:

    I have purchased many items on line, including clothes and, to be honest I have never had the problem described here. It is correct in warning about the pitfalls and there is nothing like the actual experience of going to a shop and trying something on. But, having said that, obviously many have problems going into a shop.
    So I use a reputable and well known shop, these can be checked by Googling, there is always a forum were people vent their spleen when getting ripped off.
    Also use Pay Pal and your money is protected against theft. As for the guarantee, you are quite right about the warranty starting at the date of dispatch which you quite rightly warn on this.
    To be honest this is why I use reputable sevices such as wel known shopping services like E Bay and Amazon for other items. If the service is not up to scratch you can complain and leave a negative comment and this hurts them a lot!
    I purchased what was advertised as a gold neck chain, when it arrived it became obvious it was only a very thin plating. I contacted the company and they gave us the brush off, so I left a negative comment and they really got upset. Evidently neg comments affect their dealings with E Bay, it can cost them financially.
    After a bit of argument, thank God for e-mail any phone bill would have negated any expense. The company appologised, refunded the money and told us to keep the chain if we amended our neg.

  3. gracebacon gracebacon says:

    Due to my disability (arthritis in both hips) I have to do quite a bit of online shopping to support an ever expanding wardrobe. I’ve found that the online versions of the major catalog retailers (Blair, Woman Within, Roaman’s, Jessica London, Bedford Fair, Venus, Frederick’s of Hollywood, and Old Puelo Traders) do have a high percentage of items that are made in the far east.
    Even so fit and quality from these places has been uniformly, very good. I do not shop on ebay or Amazon since I do not know who I am dealing with. …And yes, I do shop the clearance pages frequently.

  4. melissam melissam says:

    Sometimes the lowest price is not always the best value….

  5. Linda Jensen Linda Jensen says:

    Tasi, thank you for confirming why I don’t like on-line buying.
    My wife is a big time e-bay shopper(from North American vendors) but give me a department store and a fitting room any time. For me the thrill is in the search.
    On line we cannot try on many outfits before buying one, or none. Whether its Marshall’s or Macy’s we can spend as long as we want trying on as much as we want and we get to pay for our purchase and walk out of the store with it right away.
    To me, that makes any extra cost worthwhile.

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