Not the bargain it seems: Customer gets ‘taken’ over suede coat rip-off

Investigations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With growing health concerns due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, shoppers are buying more online than ever before.

We’re just two weeks into the holiday shopping season and across the country, online sales are up more than 20% over last year, according to Adobe Analytics.

However, there is a downside to online shopping: scammers.

WATE 6 On Your Side’s Don Dare shows you what can happen if you deal with a website that rips you off, and what you may get if you do business with a site that doesn’t send you what you ordered.

A gray “suede” coat is what a WATE-TV viewer ordered from a new website, “Youthchic,” which went online in June of this year, according to our research. The site was recently taken down.

Karen Rouse owns MidSouth Sewing and Fabric and is an expert in her field. We showed her a picture of the gray suede coat that had been ordered. However, what was received wasn’t gray or suede: It was a pink robe.

“Actually this is polyester. It’s a cheap polyester. It’s not going to wash very well, and it’s not going to wear very well. If you found this fabric you’d find it at a discount type of store. You are probably going to have about two dollars worth of fabric in there. Oh my. … Yes, somebody got taken,” Rouse said.

The cost of being “taken” was $59, which included a $9 shipping charge. For dissatisfied customers who may try to reach Youthchic for explanation of a mistaken order but the website address states, “The shop is unavailable.”

We showed the coat to Tony Binkley at the Better Business Bureau. He says the scam website likely used stolen Instagram pictures featuring some nice looking clothes and claiming them as their own.

“With COVID going on this year, we’ve seen these websites popping up more than usual. They put them up and sell their junk. That’s what it is, and they’re gone. They get their money, and they’re gone,” Tony Binkley, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Greater East Tennessee, said.

It was a year ago in Gatlinburg when we asked Marsha Fountain about the price of a “leather” coat being sold online. She operates Gatlin County Leather Gallery.

We had been sent a picture of a fancy looking leather coat on a website called Novaplum. The price of the garment was an unbelievable $53 for the Merino Shearling Sheepskin Coat. But the picture of that very coat was ripped off from Overland’s clothing website.

Marsha and designer Jody Trammel had never heard of NovaPlum. They’re familiar, however, with Overland’s popular leather products and that $3,400 Shearling Sheepskin it offers.

“It takes about five hides to make a coat like that,” Marsha Fountain said. So, $53 was definitely not adding up nor was it the bargain it seemed.

Aware that some of Overland’s pictures and description of their clothing had apparently been copied, they took legal action last year to stop it.

This year it’s the pink bathrobe disguised as a gray suede coat that caught our attention.

The BBB warns if you are not familiar with a website to be leery about doing business with them.

Shopping online can save time, but it can cost you down the road if you’re not careful. Be a wise shopper, and do your ordering from established businesses that can be trusted.

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