BBB issues ‘drop shipping’ warning amid holiday shopping season

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Better Business Bureau wants people to use caution during this holiday shopping season because some websites and social media ads may not be what they seem.

“I will tell you that the vast majority of these websites that you have never heard of that are popping up and selling a bunch of stuff on social media are probably drop shipping sites,” BBB Vice President of Community of Relations Troy Baker told FOX 17 Friday.

Typically, when you buy something online the product is in a warehouse and your item ships immediately.

However, with drop shipping, that’s not the case.

When you buy from a drop shipper, the item is not on hand and instead comes from another company, usually one based overseas.

“The drop shipper is really just a middleman helping facilitate the purchase, and there is nothing wrong with that, except we have seen a lot of these websites cause issues with consumers because they are not acting in an ethical and honest way,” Baker explained.

He says problems can arise when the buyer tries to make a return.

“These are people, usually just one person, in their house starting a website. So, if you get flooded with emails from hundreds of customers, or phone calls from people that want more information or need to care for things and you don’t have a system in place to deal with customer service, you got a problem,” Baker added.

Plus, low price might mean low quality, and time is starting to run out.

“They lie about the value of the product. They will say it’s a $150 item on sale for $75. You think you’re getting a great deal, but when a $5 item from overseas shows up, you’re going to feel cheated,” he said. “A lot of times, they don’t disclose the shipping times, so while many of us are used to two-day or one-day shipping, it’s coming from overseas and you might get it in a couple of weeks or, in some cases, a couple of months— or not at all.”

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