We began our journey into the wonderful world of wigs in 2007 by selling a handful of different designs on EBay. The experience and knowledge this provided us proved indispensable and it was most definitely the right place for us to begin building our loyal customer base.
In recent years we have seen EBay open up it’s marketplace to international sellers. This introduced a range of newly accessible wig companies and their products, but with them came a whole host of worrying selling trends and techniques. These methods adopted by the most prevalent sellers of wigs coupled with EBay’s evolution induced us to go it alone and sell directly from our website.
Due to concerns and questions raised by both potential and repeat customers in regards purchasing wigs on EBay, we wanted to share our experience and provide an insight into how some sellers manipulate the EBay system and dupe many unsuspecting customers.
We genuinely hope that the following information will help you better understand how EBay works and what to look out for if you are considering purchasing a wig from the auction site.
Wigs Are Not Necessarily Cheaper On EBay!
Since the late 90’s, EBay has been the go-to online marketplace to nab a bargain. The selling platform has evolved significantly since then and a complicated and ever-growing list of conditions that must be met by sellers in order to receive maximum exposure has changed, and in many cases, increased the margins in regards pricing.
In order for an EBay seller to receive a high ranking in search results for their products and discounted fees, they must be certified as a ‘Top Rated Seller’. To achieve this badge, any company trading on EBay MUST offer free shipping via a delivery method that arrives within 3 days.
Due to competition both domestically and internationally, this has forced many to provide the ‘free delivery’ option while couriers and Royal Mail continue to increase their prices.
EBay fees are also routinely raised for sellers and any wig seller currently pays a total of around 13% of every sale, shared between EBay and Paypal. Sellers are also charged a fee for their online ‘EBay Shop’ and this ranges from £25 - £269 per month.
The consequence is that both the true cost of shipping and a charge to cover EBay fees is being added to the price of the wig.
If an EBay seller also has their own website, you will therefore find that it is often cheaper to purchase directly from this platform.
The ‘Shipped From’ Location Can Be (And Is Often) Manipulated
EBay understands that customers want to be informed as to how long they will have to wait for their item to be delivered. This information is displayed prominently at the top of every EBay listing and includes estimated delivery dates and the item location (ie where your order is being shipped from).
We did a simple search for ‘red wig’ on EBay and this brought up 65,043 results. Down the left hand side of these listings are some handy filters that allow you to narrow down the search results, including ‘style’, ‘condition’, ‘price’ and ‘item location’. Once we selected ‘UK Only’ using this filter, the results are whittled down to 29,918.
We didn’t have to scroll too far to find a decidedly dodgy looking listing. In fact, the 4th wig in this very long list of almost 30,000 supposedly UK based products is a generic wig available in a range of colours.
Ok, don’t get us started on the image and the price – more on that minefield later but safe to say that the ‘model’ is wearing a completely different wig from the product photographed on the mannequin head. The human image is more than likely to have been nabbed from Instagram or Pinterest, potentially from a wig selling competitor.
As you can see, the details clearly state that the company is based in Southend-On-Sea and you should expect your order to be delivered within 2-3 days.
One simple click on the feedback score of this seller tells a very different story;
The company profile states that this seller is actually based in China and 4 feedback comments left in the space of 48 hours confirm that you are likely to be waiting much longer than the 2-3 days advertised.
It is easy for any seller on EBay to change the ‘ship from’ location of the products they have listed. There is literally a dropdown box of every country in the world and as a seller you can select whichever you wish. Based in Essex, we can advertise that our hair extensions are shipped from Brazil and our wigs are shipped from Dubai if we so choose. There is no request for proof on EBay’s behalf.
Once the country has been selected, the EBay system quickly generates a range of shipping options commonly used in said country (ie Royal Mail 48 2-3 day delivery). The seller only has to choose one from the list as their ‘default’ shipping method and this is automatically applied to their delivery information on every listing.
If you are in no hurry and are happy to wait weeks or months for your new wig to arrive, this is not a major issue. Having said that, if you receive the wig and are less than impressed with the quality (continue reading for why this will likely be the case), you are then faced with having to return the parcel to China. In most cases, a refund will only be considered once the order has been received back by the company = more waiting.
Images Are Often Stolen and Incredibly Misleading
Companies that sell online rely heavily on the images of their products. The larger corporations spend millions on photography as research shows that owing to a fast paced society, flooded markets and information overload from social media, the attention span of the customer continues to shrink. It is becoming more and more common for buyers to make a purchase based solely on the image(s) without reading any information pertaining to the product. This is aided by Amazon’s ‘1 Click’ purchasing option and EBay’s strategically placed ‘Buy It Now’ button.
But what if the images displayed do not portray the actual product that you are ordering? This is a rampant problem on EBay when it comes to wigs. This mainly applies to wig factories in China that have started to sell directly to the customer via EBay.
The first telltale sign that a wig company is using stolen images is if their photographs do not have any consistency.
Any legitimate wig company will likely use the same photography method for all of their products. The same coloured background, same mannequin heads, similar photo effects, similar dimensions and the same models.
The items pictured above are advertised by a seller that is highly likely to be a Chinese based factory. The images of the 3 wigs are utterly different. The backgrounds, borders, photo constructions and mannequin heads are in no way similar.
The most obvious warning signs are the watermarks blatantly featuring 3 different company names. This strongly suggests that these images have been lifted from other sellers.
This same company is currently listing more than 4500 different wigs for sale. The biggest wig factories in the world do not stock anywhere close to this many different designs.
The delivery timescale for the UK is estimated between 19 and 61 days for every one of the 4500 styles. This means that to meet their obligations as an EBay seller, the item has to arrive with the customer within 61 days of the date of purchase.
Combining all these factors, it is easy to come to the conclusion that this company employs an extremely misleading method to sell wigs that they don’t actually stock.
Having been on the receiving end of image theft ourselves, and after a little investigation, it has become clear that this company scours EBay for wig listings. They then download the image(s) of the product and copy the product title and full details. Next, they create a new listing, copy and paste the text and add the stolen images. The final step is to dramatically undercut the price of the original wig they are duplicating to ensure they are offering by far the cheapest option.
With EBay’s template based selling platform, this can be completed and live within a few minutes.
Check out these identical listings and notice the huge difference in price;
When a none-the-wiser customer places an order, the company has plenty of time (61 days) to reproduce the wig according to the images and have it delivered.
This method of manufacturing a wig only after it has been sold is troubling for two reasons.
Firstly, if the seller has stolen the images and simply duplicated another EBay listing, they have not seen or felt the wig in person. The factory will attempt to reproduce the wig with sometimes only 1 or 2 images as their ‘inspiration’. In our experience, this usually means that the duplicated version ends up being considerably different from the original – and therefore considerably different from the images they are using to advertise the wig.
Our best selling Khloe Wig was replicated numerous times by Chinese sellers on EBay and sold for as little as £11. Once we enrolled in the EBay copyright program, we were able to formally complain about these image thefts and the sellers were made to replace our images with photographs of the actual wig they were sending out to customers.
It is astounding how different their versions are and what customers were actually receiving;
Lastly, when these sellers dramatically undercut the price of the original wig they are replicating, they still have to make a profit. When an item is sold, EBay takes a percentage as commission. This is usually around 10%. Paypal also takes commission of around 3%. If, for example, the wig is listed for sale at £11 – the seller is left with approximately £9.57. Paypal will take an extra fee for accepting the payment in a currency different from where the item originates and EBay charges a healthy fee for a monthly subscription to their ‘shop’ facilities. In this case we will be generous and estimate that the seller is left with £9 after these fees.
Based on this example, the factory will not only need to manufacture the wig but also ship it from China to the UK for less than £8 in order to make just £1 in profit.
The factory will therefore use the cheapest quality fibre and as little hair as possible during production.
The result? The customer receives a shoddy, bad quality wig that looks very different from the photos that their custom was obtained from.
Take a look at some of the feedback received by the company used in our example;
This seller is one of the larger wig companies currently trading on EBay, but they are not the only one partaking in this method of selling. At the last count, the list went into double figures in regards wig sellers who are blatantly replicating other listings and offering wigs for sale that they do not actually stock.
Dodgy Companies Sell Multiple Items And From Multiple Shops
EBay’s feedback system is theoretically designed to encourage sellers to provide the best customer service. When a company receives a significant amount of negative feedback due to misleading customers with images and descriptions, it makes sense that sales will slow. It would also suggest that sellers would be deterred from trading in this manner so as to avoid bad feedback and the consequence of a drop in sales. Not so. These Chinese factories manage to avoid this pitfall by applying 2 techniques.
Firstly, they offer several other items other than wigs. These generic items are easier to replicate, the authenticity of the images is less important to the sale and the items are naturally super cheap. This ensures that bad feedback is much less likely to be received and due to the low cost, a good amount of positive feedback will be left. This means that the seller’s feedback profile is not affected too dramatically and the positive often outweighs the negative;
(Notice the ‘UK Seller’ logo on the bicycle light listing, when this seller is actually based in China. So this image was likely stolen too!)
Secondly, the largest wig sellers on EBay that are Chinese based factories have multiple shops under different names selling the exact same items. This means that if one shop receives too much negative feedback or too many complaints and EBay begins to penalise the seller by raising fees, restricting visibility of listings or even closing the store, the seller has other shops to fall back on and will simply open another.
These duplicated wig listings are advertised under different sellers with different store names but are likely the same Chinese factory;
Reviews Are Not Accurate
EBay recently introduced a ‘review’ system, likely trying to compete with Amazon. Customers are asked to leave reviews once they have received their order. This makes sense in theory and it was obviously intended to help the customer, but it seems as though EBay are sharing reviews across listings that have the same titles and/or descriptions.
This becomes a problem and extremely unhelpful to the customer when a listing has been duplicated by one of these sellers who flagrantly reproduces inferior versions of wigs.
If a bad review is left for a wig due to the customer being misled by one of these sellers, the comments will be transferred to the original listing, which is quite conceivably a perfectly adequate wig made by a company who delivers good customer service.
On the flipside, if a good review is left for this original seller, this too is transferred over to the duplicated listing, thus giving potential customers the impression that the replicated wig is of high quality and as pictured.
Another rather strange addition to the EBay review process is allowing ‘customers’ to leave reviews for items that they have not directly purchased from EBay. There is a whole heap of problems with ordering wigs from Amazon (we will be covering that in a later post) that unfortunately includes this same issue of sellers using images that are not their own. If customers have had a bad experience when purchasing from Amazon, they are seemingly permitted to leave a review based on this experience on any EBay listing that is displaying the same title/image/description of the item that was ordered.
Rest assured that there are still bargains to be found on EBay and we are aware of some customers having positive experiences when purchasing wigs from the marketplace.
To ensure that you are not being duped or ripped off, follow our roundup of the issues covered in this post;
- Check if the wig is available directly from the seller’s website at a better price.
- Confirm where your order is being shipped from by clicking on the seller’s feedback score and reviewing their registered country.
- Check the estimated delivery times and be aware that extended estimates suggest that the wig is not in stock and is likely made to order.
- Review feedback comments, particularly the negative remarks.
- Take a look at the other items listed by the seller. Are the photographs of their wigs dramatically inconsistent? Do they display varying watermarks? If the answer is yes, be wary that the images are likely stolen.
- Do you recognise images as being identical to UK or US based wig companies with their own websites? If so, again these images used on EBay are potentially stolen.
- Copy and paste the title of the wig into the EBay search box. Compare the results and be aware that if there are multiple listings at significantly different price points, the cheapest options are likely replicas.
- If the price is ridiculously cheap, this will more than likely be reflected in the quality.
- Don’t pay too much attention to the reviews.
- If you have a bad experience when purchasing a wig from EBay – complain! Leave feedback for the seller and contact EBay directly regarding the problems you have encountered. This is the only way EBay will take action and remove scam sellers.