Hank Investigates: Mail Order Mess

When busy mom Jennifer Johnson saw an online ad from a site selling hard to get Clorox wipes, she was thrilled.     

But when she opened the packaged that arrived, that thrill turned to disappointment. 

“A pair of gray socks,” is what Jennifer said she got instead. “It’s just it’s crazy to me.”    

Lea ordered two coolers from a site on social media, and also got a surprise.  

“I received a cheap metal ring that you would buy in a toy store,” Lea said. “I’m like, are you kidding me?”        

Patty ordered a large metal rack like this But inside her package was also a surprise.   

I got a little pink plastic two-level bin,” Patty said. “I was shocked.”       

These local women all contacted 7 Investigates, saying what they ordered isn’t even close to what they got. And when they tried complaining, the companies weren’t helpful  

We found many similar complaints across the country. Oner consumer griped to Pissed Consumer.com that they “ordered a pair of men’s shorts and received a bikini top instead.” Another said they “ordered a swimsuit and got an ugly shirt.”     

“It’s disheartening,” Paula Fleming, chief marketing and sales officer for the Better Business Bureau chapter that serves Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont said.


What’s going on? The BBB says with so many people shopping online these days; some companies are slammed.   

“They’re falling short just because they are overwhelmed,” Fleming said.

But other sites are a straight-up bait and switch.      

They are really targeting on the fear, targeting on the fact that people have to online shop right now because they are not comfortable going out or the stores that they often frequent are not open,” Fleming said.         

Why do the “companies” bother to send anything at all?


“Sometimes it’s just to show that there has been a delivery made,” Fleming said.    

Then records will show you received a package, and that can make it harder for you to fight the charge.     

To make it easier, always pay with a credit card like Patty did.   

Jennifer and Lea didn’t and were having trouble getting their money back. 

So we contacted PayPal about the socks and the plastic bin, and now the surprised shoppers are getting a refund.     

They were able to make it right in the end, so that was good,” Jennifer said.      

Thank you very much,” Lea said.  

Many of the online ads tied to these kinds of switches do look legitimate. Before buying anything, try Googling the company’s name to check for complaints.

Click here for more tips from the BBB on how to shop online safely. 

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