How to avoid a wedding dress nightmare!
Traditionally shopping for your wedding dress has to be one of the most sacred and treasured experience of any bride's wedding planning process.
The romantic journey of browsing dozens of dresses with friends and relatives enjoying the vision of finding your dream wedding gown usually wouldn't involve clicking an "Add to Basket" button and entering your Mastercard or Visa credit card details online.
However a surprising number of modern brides today turn to the internet to buy their perfect designer dress.
Putting tradition and romance aside, buying a wedding gown online appeals to a lot of future brides because of potential cost and convenience benefits.
In the stark light of day however, among the huge number of genuine designer wedding dress websites there are even more counterfeiters making a healthy living out of selling fake dresses to unsuspecting brides-to-be.
More and more in recent years the internet has been flooded with fake goods, illegal imports and downright terrible copies.
We advise and indeed include ourselves in this warning, be vigilant, research and really understand what you are buying online. Brand protection websites likes Which? and MarkMonitor all have great tips to make sure brides are extra careful when shopping online.
We hear countless horror stories from brides who have been lured in by promises of reduced costs and quick delivery but end up, instead, out of pocket and with an unwearable dress for their impending wedding.
Prices that seem too good to be true, generally are. Counterfeiters would offer dresses with ridiculous discounts such as 70-85% off retail prices but WARNING they are now wising up and realising that sometimes it can be more convincing the less the dress is reduced in price so are now offering smaller discounts such as 20%.
It is definitely worth checking other elements of their website to see if they stack up as a legitimate supplier.
The fake designers are becoming more cunning with website designs that look more professional at first glance but aren't always so careful with the "About" or "FAQ" page. Examine these sections of the website carefully, including delivery details and where the company is based, to ensure it matches up with the designer dress company's credentials.
It is simple to telephone a wedding dress shop/supplier and have a chat about their location and whether an appointment or visit can be booked. Legitimate suppliers will be more than happy to help, the counterfeiters will be more cagey and have unrealistic excuses.
Also check location based services such as Google Maps as a legitimate business must provide legal proof of address to be registered as a business on Google.
Return and Privacy policies
These should be crystal clear and reasonable. If the dress is ill fitting or is damaged, it may need to be sent back - an online genuine retailer should provide you with details of how to cancel, return goods and receive refunds. Counterfeiters rarely invest the money or time to create clear, strong policies, so if there isn't one on the website, that should raise a red flag warning.
Check the web address
"Copy-cat" or impersonation of well known brand's website and what is referred to as "cybersquatting" are on the rise.
When you initially search for a brand name, please PLEASE check the search results and links for spelling mistakes on both the website and the web URL address name as they can sometimes be very subtle changes:
Essense Designs = http://www.essensedesigns.com (LEGITIMATE REAL ADDRESS)
Essense Designs = http://www.essencedesigns.com (FAKE COUNTERFEIT ADDRESS)
Many legitimate retailers will have a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram social media presence whereas the fake designers and counterfeiters rarely take the time to invest in proper social media pages. It is always wise to compare the information given on social media pages with the sellers website to ensure the details match, if they don't this should be a warning sign.
Fake Britain TV Episode - Wedding Dress Woes
BBC One's television program Fake Britain dedicated an entire episode focused on the illegal and counterfeit sale of wedding dresses on the internet and the pitfalls of the fake wedding dress industry, click the picture below to watch the entire episode and avoid any heartbreak before your special day.
Research, Research, Research!
Our ultimate advice for brides-to-be is:
- Do your research and then do MORE research, be 100% sure that the online retailer is as legitimate as it appears
- Be vigilant because the counterfeiters are becoming more cunning
- If you have any doubts never EVER hand over your credit card details
Please be confident you've taken into account all of the above advice and are happy to avoid potential heartbreak or financial disasters.
For more information, or if you are worried about your wedding dress take a look at the Brides Aware and Bridal Beware websites, the Knock Off Nightmares Facebook Community Page or contacting BIS (Bridal Industry Supplier’s Association) may help.
Did you buy your wedding dress online? We’d love to hear your experiences! Why not leave a comment and let us know?