Small problem! Bargain hunters shopping on Chinese websites are stunned to discover they have ordered MINIATURE items including hangers and drawer handles
Disgruntled shoppers are sharing photos showing the pitfalls of buying online, such as accidentally ordering mini versions of certain household items instead of their normal counterparts.
The snapshots, shared this week with The Wall Street Journalleft their respective bargain hunters clearly dissatisfied, and shows the huge gap that can exist between what is depicted online and what comes out of the box.
From tiny household items, from a small rice cooker that doesn’t actually cook, to clothes hangers that fit easily in your pocket instead of in a cupboard. In the case of the stove, a hobbyist told the newspaper that they bought it on purpose.
In the case of the latter, a set mistakenly picked up by a fashion designer who moonlights as a second-hand children’s clothing seller, the item was labeled – perhaps too appropriately – as ‘small’ on a popular Chinese fashion site.
The purchases – as well as others, such as a woman’s purchase of lounge chairs that can barely fit a finger, let alone a person – demonstrate the dangers of not reading the fine print and buying blindly.
Shoppers share photos showing the pitfalls of buying online, such as accidentally ordering mini versions of household items instead of their normal counterparts
The tiny household items ranged from purposefully purchased small rice cookers that don’t cook (seen here) to clothes hangers that fit in your pocket rather than in a cupboard
In comments to the Journal published Sunday, the not-so-eagle-eyed consumers all told how they were duped by vague descriptions of terms offered on various shopping sites.
British graphic designer Emma Platt said of the less than six-inch-long mini hangers that arrived at her home last September: “I probably couldn’t fit anything on them other than Barbie clothes.”
The ad – which can still be found on Chinese fashion site Shein – proudly lists the set of ten as “teddy dog, cat doll, pet store clothes holder,” for an initially seemingly modest price of $6.32.
The post includes a photo with the stated dimensions, but not before a series of photos advertising the pendants without other items to put them in perspective.
That was the case with several other products that were advertised and ultimately purchased by other equally unimpressed buyers, including 54-year-old Rob Vlock of Boston.
Now the owner of ten marble drawer pulls intended for a model rather than a wardrobe, the Boston-based audiobook author described how he and his wife found the set on AliExpress, owned by China’s Alibaba, which he assumed was was a bargain.
“I remember she showed me the listing and said, ‘Oh yeah, those look good,'” he told the newspaper after paying $1.98 for the set.
As in the case of Platt – who was also duped with a supposedly ‘tiny’ Christmas tree that was actually ‘literally the size of (her) thumb’ – Vlock said the signs used to place the item were, at first glance were misleading.
The purchases – as well as others, such as a woman’s purchase of lounge chairs that can barely fit a finger, let alone a person (pictured) – demonstrate the dangers of not reading the fine print
Ten marble-sized drawer pulls, intended for a model rather than a wardrobe, accidentally purchased earlier this year by a Boston author
A woman who ordered a ramp for her dog through the now-defunct website Penblast.com was also surprised to find that the finished product that arrived on her doorstep was smaller than expected
Another ordered a foam roller for her 10-year-old son to use after soccer, and was instead greeted with a cylinder “basically half the length of (her) arm”
“I think maybe it wasn’t that clear what the size was,” said Vlock, who upon closer inspection realized the dimensions were on the site.
Speaking to the newspaper, he added that he was surprised not only by the size of the trinkets that arrived at his home, but also by the mass of positive reviews the product had received on the popular universal website.
“There are people who say, ‘These are great for my dollhouse,'” he recalled, sharing a photo of the undersized buttons as proof.
Rather than complain or ask for a refund, he said he and his wife Joanne decided to take on the cost since the cost was — for lack of a better word — small in the grand scheme of things.
That wasn’t the case with Platt, who said she not only got a refund when she tried to return the compact hangers, but also got to keep them as a souvenir of sorts.
Still, citing the other tree accident several years ago, she told the Journal that both experiences left her unamused.
“I swear none of these things existed when I bought them,” she snapped.
‘Now I literally have forty tiny hangers in my wardrobe. It’s annoying because I’m no closer to clothes hangers.’
She quickly added, “But the (refund) gesture was nice, I guess.”
Speaking to The Journal, former Alibaba executive Ivy Yang said she instead gave the small exercise item to her other son, who is two, telling the paper, “He gets to imitate what his older brother does.” It’s kinda perfect his size’
As in Yang’s case, Rob Vlock of Boston said the signage used to store the shrunken drawer pulls was misleading at first glance. He told the newspaper: ‘I think maybe it wasn’t so clear what the size was’
Others who spoke to the publication about the increasingly common phenomenon included a woman who ordered a ramp for her dog from the now-defunct Penblast.com, but instead received what appeared to be a toy slide that was even smaller than the pup itself.
Another ordered a foam roller for her 10-year-old to soothe his muscles after playing soccer, but was instead greeted with a cylinder “basically half the length of (her) arm.”
Speaking to The Journal, former Alibaba CEO Ivy Yang said she has since found a use for the small exercise item with her other son, who is two.
“He gets to imitate what his older brother does,” she explained, without revealing where she bought the roller. “It’s exactly his size.”
That said, not all parties who spoke to the paper unwittingly became embroiled in the miniature fiasco — with Chicago-based student Tōru Katakami, who uses the pronouns They/Them, telling the Journal that they had purposely purchased their shrunken rice cooker as part of an increasingly popular, if quirky, pastime.
While some buy out of choice, prominent consumer analyst Brendan Witcher told the newspaper that there is certainly cheating by sellers like AliExpress and Shein, who he says are capitalizing on shoppers who have become lazy by clicking ‘buy’.
Not all parties who spoke to the newspaper were unwittingly caught up in the miniature fiasco — with Chicago-based student Tōru Katakami telling the Journal that they had purposely purchased their shrunken rice cooker as part of an increasingly popular, if quirky, pastime.
In those cases, he said, the customer might say, “It’s only $1, $2, maybe $3, what’s the harm?” before taking the plunge and labeling the purchase as a mistake.
“When you add that up to these companies selling hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of these items over time, that adds up to quite a bit of change,” Witcher explained of the relatively new incident.
“It’s finding a loophole in the way society works and monetizing it,” he said.