3 On Your Side: Wedding Dress Rip-Offs

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Any bride can tell you planning a wedding on a budget can be tough, especially when it comes to finding the perfect dress. Unfortunately scammers know that all too well. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan tells us about some of the latest rip-offs which are duping brides on their way to the altar.

The designer dress that Maria Ray wanted was just too pricey at $1200, so when she found it online for under $400 dollars, she ordered it immediately. Maria says, “I loved that dress; I could not get that dress out of my head.”

But what was delivered was a mishmash of unglued lace, a floppy corset top without boning, and a rusty pin which stuck in the dress that poked her! Maria says, “I e-mailed them back and said ‘are you crazy? Do you think I will wear this dress on my wedding day?'”Though the company’s website boasted a 7 day money back return policy, she sent the dress back and never got her money.

Maria is not alone. Hundreds of women across the country have fallen victim to similar scams. When brides tell bridal shop owner Frank Hambicki that they can find the dress they want cheaper online, he shows them examples of what they might end up with. He says, “They’re thinking maybe the boutiques, the bridal stores, are charging too much for it.”

Cheap replicas aren’t the only scam. Natasha Dennisuk thought $1,850 was a bargain to pay for a dress that retailed for $6,400. The seller said she lost her fiancé in a car accident. So Natasha wired her the money, but dress never arrived. Now she warns other brides, hoping to keep them from paying such a high price in the process of trying to save. Natasha says, “It’s that one thing we’ve always thought about and it’s the most important thing for our wedding day.”

Many counterfeit dresses come from China. So how can you avoid being ripped off? Always pay with a credit, not a debit card and never wire money! When searching for a dress online be sure to check consumer reviews and plug in the company’s address into street view option of Google maps to see what the place looks like. Is it a post office box? a parking lot? an abandoned warehouse? those are obvious red flags.

Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3

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  • Pat

    I guess I was lucky then. The dress I wanted wasn’t fancy yet local stores wanted over $2,000 for it! No way. I ordered a similar and even nicer dress online and only paid $300. The boning in the corset top wasn’t perfect, but I was able to have fixed for less than $100. The dress was gorgeous and spending less than $400 was much better than spending $2000 on a dress you only wear once!

  • SMH38

    Some online comapies are legit. I bought my dress and my bridesmaid dresses on pearlsplace.com. I ordered right around the time of hurricane Katrina and had no delays or issues.

  • Harryfourth

    Hey Jim Donovan thanks for sending brides back to the bridal shops where prices and profit margins are so high that it drove brides to online dealers!
    The most important thing to take from this article is shop smart online and anywhere you shop for things that have emotional ties!

    • Jim Donovan

      Harryfourth. FYI, for every one bridal shop complaint that we get, we have about 20 complaints for online sites. So while you pay a premium, it sometimes is worth it. The most important thing to take away is to shop with a credit card. Most people have issues when they use a debit card or wire money. Regardless of where you shop, never do that. Jim Donovan

    • LL

      Uh, why blame Jim Donavan for the actions of criminals?? He didn’t say don’t buy online, he just gave some guidelines. I personally would never buy anything as important as a wedding dress online, but I got married in the late 80’s so it wasn’t an option.

      If I were to buy one today, I’d rather negociate with a bridal shop and pay a little more knowing what I’m getting. If I have a problem, I can deal with them directly instead of sending e-mails off to a server somewhere.

  • Jonathan Covey

    Bob dont be nice, I agree 100%.

  • Carolyn

    bob, BE NICE, some people are too trusting, when it comes to the idea of anyone, who would scam them out of money, that they themselves are willing to pay for something that someone else maybe selling!!!

  • bob

    If you’re DUMB enough to wire a complete stranger any amount of money, you DESERVE to lose it. Theres a sucker born every minute folks. Common sense has left the building.

    • Katelynn

      I agree 100% Bob.

      • Jim Donovan

        I agree with Bob, Katelynn and Jonathan. Common sense has left the building. Although I will be on the record by saying that I don’t agree people deserve to lose their money. Jim Donovan

  • http://travel2philadelphia.us/the-latest-philadelphia-news-headlines-foraug-11-2011/ The Latest Philadelphia News headlines for Aug 11 2011 : Travel tips, hotels, restaurants, jobs and news | Travel 2 Philadelphia

    […] day’s top happenings and events…there’s something for everyone here in the Philadelphia area!3 On Your Side: Wedding Dress Rip-OffsAny bride can tell you planning a wedding on a budget can be tough, especially when it comes to […]

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