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Wish and its unbelievable prices: is it a scam?

Wish is is an app that boasts incredibly cute clothes, all the electronic goods you could need, and prices that seem too good to be true.

Even if you've never used Wish, you've definitely seen adverts for it all over social media. Wish is basically an online store that sells anything and everything at a shockingly low price. They also have a mobile app which reported over 100 million users in 2017.

As popular as Wish is, there are still plenty of people skeptical about it. The prices can leave you wondering whether or not what you're ordering is legit, and if it is, the quality you'll find it in when it arrives. I've actually ordered from Wish quite a bit and would say I have a fair amount of experience on the do's and don't's of the site.

So, is ordering from Wish worth it or not?

To answer that, here are some things to bear in mind when you shop on Wish.

DO: read reviews.

These will be your lifeboat while navigating the treacherous waters of Wish. On each item listing there's a space for people to submit reviews, pictures and even videos of what they've received (scroll down on the website, 'product rating' tab on the app). So you'll generally know before paying whether that gorgeous prom dress is actually see-through or if those Christmas lights will make or break your festivities.

And if there are no reviews, steer clear. Unless you like living life on the edge.

This can actually make Wish feel safer to shop on than a lot of other sites, in my opinion. I know I've ordered clothing from mainstream brands that has arrived and not been the same material, cut, or just anything that was pictured on the model. At least with Wish buyers have a voice, and they're brutally honest when they need to be.

There's actually an incentive for people to review things beyond just being good Samaritans, which is why so many people do. You'll collect points for it, and these can be exchanged for discounts. They've also recently introduced a stamp system on their app that wins you up to 50% off for logging in every day for a week. I actually have a 15% off voucher I won from this last week still to use, so this is a real thing.

But wait—isn't everything on Wish super cheap? Why would you even need discounts?

DO: account for shipping.

Upon opening up Wish's app or website, you'll find that the majority of items are on sale for £1 - £9. It may leave you wondering: how can this company possibly be making any money?

Well, once you start adding items to your cart, you'll probably figure it out. You'll be charged shipping for each item individually, which is where prices can really start piling up if you're going for a shopping spree. Shipping costs vary, but it will usually be an additional £2 - £4 per item. Which in some cases can be more expensive than the item itself. Essentially, those discounts will probably help you out with paying for the shipping, not the item itself.

To be fair to Wish, the separate shipping costs do make sense since the site is made up of individual sellers from all over the world. It's kind of like shopping on eBay.

Your orders are also going to take their time.

While Wish has sellers from all over the world, most of what you order is going to be from China. You'll be given a shipment time of around a month to cover for delays, but items do usually show up sooner. They've also recently added a tracking feature that allows you to see where your package last was and where it's going to next, so it's all very legit. I've definitely never had a package go missing... Just don't order anything from here that you need urgently.

DON'T: assume "free" means free.

Wish "sells" a lot of items that are curiously listed as "free." Usually, the item itself really is free. Just don't forget you'll undoubtedly be paying more for shipping than the item this time.

In some cases there are stipulations. For example, a hoodie might be marked as "free," and available in many different sizes and colours. But only specific sizing and colour combinations are actually free of charge. Just be aware of this before you add items to your basket, as the prices can sneak up when you're not paying attention.

Just bear in mind that when it comes to quality, you get what you pay for. Luckily, you can usually gauge this from the aforementioned reviews.

DO: look out for duplicates.

Here's another trick for saving money on Wish—keep your eyes peeled for multiple listings of the same item. You can sometimes find these by clicking the 'related products' tab on an item listing. You'll often find different sellers offering them cheaper, or in the case of clothing, in different colours and sizing options. And speaking of sizing...

DON'T: rely on sizing too much.

If you're looking to buy clothes on Wish, beware of sellers and their arbitrary sizing. They'll often provide those sizing charts so you can maybe work out which size you should order, but I can't vouch for the accuracy of these, as I've ordered clothes that were "my size" but ended up being far too big. This definitely isn't the case every time though, as I've ordered plenty of items that have been true to size and fit like a glove.

If in doubt, don't forget to check those reviews. The true heroes of Wish are the people who review clothing that was too big or small for them and give an idea of their body shape. From this, you can find people with a similar body type to yours and work out if you need to be sizing up or down.

DON'T: expect quality electronic goods.

Wish has a lot of electronics to offer, and they're a bit hit or miss. Some of it is pretty funny, like fake Apple watches and iPads for £7 and £2o respectively (which actually seem to be selling, somehow). You're probably best staying away from products like these that require customer support, for obvious reasons.

I have however ordered some cheaper, battery-operated electronics that I've loved. My favourite of these is a set of light-up shot glasses. They're just so much fun, came with batteries, and reviewers had uploaded videos of them working so I felt assured in my purchase. Sure they're made of flimsy plastic, and one of them wobbles ever so slightly on flat surfaces, but for the grand total of £0 (plus shipping) they're clearly a steal.

DON'T: buy makeup. Probably.

Okay, this is one I can't give personal experience on as I've never done it. But pretty much anyone will tell you it's a bad idea to buy makeup on Wish. You don't really know what's in it after all, especially since they're produced so cheaply—and fake makeup can be extremely dangerous for your skin and eyes. If you're curious, there's plenty of videos on YouTube of brave souls trying Wish makeup out for themselves. For science, of course.

What I would recommend is makeup-related products, like eyeliner stencils and eyeshadow pads. These are super fun to use and very affordable.

DO: be careful what you buy... Because you'll most likely be keeping it.

So, you're probably wondering—what if I go through all these precautions, read every single review and consult the size chart 15 times, and I still receive something unwearable, damaged or otherwise unwanted? Well sadly, probably not much.

While it is possible to return things on Wish, it's not easy.

They also won't refund the shipping cost, and you'll have to pay to send it back again. With so many items on the site sitting in such a low price bracket, these combined shipping costs will often be more expensive than the refund you'd receive for it.

The customer service throughout the return process apparently leaves a lot to be desired, too. Wish don't provide a phone number so you'll need to message customer support on the app to receive a return label, and they're notoriously bad at replying.

In most cases, it's probably not worth it. You're better off just not buying anything you wouldn't be happy not to receive a refund for—this means sticking to low-cost items unless you're absolutely sure.

So no, Wish isn't a scam —it's actually extremely legit, affordable, and perfect for finding items you never knew you needed. Just remember to shop smart and you'll have a ton of fun.
Featured image: Pe3k / Shutterstock.com