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The perils of online holiday shopping

Posted by Mitch Lipka  December 10, 2013 04:46 PM

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shopjordans.jpgA reader sent me a note about purchasing a jacket and shoes from a website that wouldn’t respond after it sent the wrong items. At first glance, the site,, looks like a typical online outlet. But when you look under the hood, it’s clear that it’s not the sort of site with which you should do business.

When you look at the “About Us” page, there’s nothing there. Digging in further, a “Whois” search, which reveals who registered the website, shows incomplete information and a non-working phone number in an area code that doesn’t exist.

There is no phone number to contact customer service. The contact page simply says “Hong Kong” as the location and above an email form says: “All the email will be response (sic) in 24 hours on weekdays.”

The reader didn’t get a response and neither did I. The site, which sells what it claims to be North Face clothing, is not an authorized seller of that line. A list of the many sites that can sell that brand can be found on the North Face website.

What about the “BBB Accredited” logo on the bottom of the page and other authentic looking symbols? Click on them on you’ll see they go nowhere. They ought to take you to the sites that lend their legitimacy. It’s easy to copy logos.

How did this reader land on the site? A link from a social networking site. All it takes is one person to post an image or blurb that you can get something for cheap and people share it. And eventually someone bites because, well, someone shared it.

In this season of non-stop shopping – an increasing amount taking place online -- follow some simple rules to avoid dealing with a site won’t give you what you want while leaving you with little-to-no recourse when there’s a problem.

Be sure you’re dealing with a reputable seller. If you’re interested in a certain brand, start at the brand site and see where you can buy the product. There’s an industry of counterfeiters who build their businesses around brand names and the words “cheap,” “sale,” and “discount.” Don’t be their next victim.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at


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