A Christmas Scam

Marigold Shadows – Cheesy Chinese Scam

I thought I would be reporting on a new sort of scam here, like I was a master detective who had cracked the case. I came to realize that the case had been cracked long ago. Still posting so others don’t get sucked in.

The Pitch

My wife loved a new skirt she had found through an ad in Facebook. It was black and cool and “only” $83. She was taken by the company’s story:

We’re so glad you found us. Here’s a bit about our journey so far- Our brand started out of Southern California selling at Lobby, a cute boutique in The Lab mall located in Costa Mesa, California. In 2014 Lobby moved to Marcus Gallery in downtown Santa Ana. We loved the vibe of the area so we tagged along and did our own mini shop in the new spot. We outgrew that small brick and mortar location and opened our online store in 2016. Our team is loving life online.

So she ordered the skirt. Later she got an email saying that the skirt had shipped…from China. It would be arriving “soon.” A few weeks later, emails to Marigold Shadows “Support” team were answered with generic “we’re looking into it” and “we’ll get that to you soon” replies.

The Scam

We started investigating and discovered that this was already very common. It’s apparently easy as pie to set up a website with a Shopify back-end, directly link to whatever products you choose on Aliexpress (cheesy Chinese site full of cheap crap) and set yourself up with a “business.”

So my wife paid someone $80 to order a skirt online in China for $30. The Website and the Aliexpress seller don’t even have to be connected. They just put in the order and your address.

The Whole Story

Alexis C. Madrigal has the fullest explanation of this in his “The Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed” article from The Atlantic:

For products, he turns to, AliExpress, the Alibaba company. The key to the whole scheme is that he doesn’t have to hold any inventory, so he can start up the business with no capital. And AliExpress has many companies that are willing to do what’s called “dropshipping” direct from wherever the item was manufactured or warehoused. That’s why my coat showed up in a China Post package.

There is an app that plugs directly into Shopify called Oberlo, which allows anyone to pull products directly from Aliexpress. Click a button and something that was manufactured in the Chinese hinterlands and marketed in a suburb of Shanghai becomes an item for sale on an Irish kid’s website. Oberlo’s marketing claims that 85 million items have been processed through the system.

Reading the full article is fascinating, and the worst part of it is: this is not illegal (yet) and there’s nobody to complain to. Although Marigold Shadows claims to be a California company, they are not. The California Department of Consumer Affairs can’t act, because there’s no company to act against.

Oh well. Thanks for reading. Maybe we’ll get the skirt someday. Please keep your eyes open during this Christmas season. Sources here:

The Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed – Alexis C. Madrigal, January 2018
There’s No Such Thing As a Free Watch – Jenny Odell, August 2017
Marigold Shadows Website
Another dissatisfied customer

Onward and Sideways

Time in its aging course teaches all things. – Prometheus Bound

In my previous writings I compared my current situation to Greek Tragedy, particularly the ever present Fates. Yes, I admit, an overblown estimation of my own importance. I am quite sure that neither Zeus, nor any other God, is personally interested in my plight.

At that time, I proposed to tempt Fate by starting a course of self improvement and study, which (I hoped) the cruel Fates would block by bringing a reasonable job offer my way. “Oh, such tragedy…forced to put aside my new life in order to make money!” A little like “please don’t throw me into that brier patch,” isn’t it?

Didn’t quite work out though, and the job search seems as Sisyphean as ever (there, I did it again). I started by applying for jobs that matched my experience and abilities. I later applied for jobs that would seem well beneath my experience and abilities. I have taken tests for positions where I could easily have written the training manual. Nothing is working. The way seems to be barred.

I did manage quite well on my previous goals. I finished an Introduction to Programming (Python) course, rose up to Level 8 Soccer Referee and reached 33% fluency (so says Duolingo) in German. Along the way, I founded the Borussia Dortmund Los Angeles Fan Club.

Putting aside my grandiose plans to trick Fate, these goals have kept me stable, if not cheerful, over the last few months. This is the most productive time of unemployment I’ve ever experienced. With that in mind, I’m moving the goalposts for the next few months.

So there…once again casting my spear to pierce the Heavens! Or maybe just preparing to be a Junior Python Programmer. Hard to tell.

Borders Redux – Customer Service?

Here’s my answer from Borders Books.  Please remember that they are sending out the wrong book, and charging money for that service, as you enjoy the pure bliss of their “customer service.”

Dear Valued Costumer,
Thank you for contacting Borders.com with your refund inquiry.
Unfortunately, eBooks cannot be returned, credited, or canceled once the order has been placed. We apologize or any inconvenience this may cause you.
For more information about our eBooks, please use the following link:
I hope you find this information helpful.  Please contact us if you have any additional questions or comments.
Borders Customer Care
That settles that!  Amazon forever!