Leon Stein observes the threatening side of dangerously cheap internet shopping on a popular website we’ve all seen ads for
Wish.com is an insane place, whether you want to buy fake electronics or a pharmaceutical grade painkiller benzocaine (that’s used to cut cocaine), it’s the place to go. Everyone gets the intrusive youtube ads with the royalty free ukulele music – that personally drives me nuts – and the Facebook campaign must cost them a staggering amount. Despite the annoyance of it, the facebook ad campaign has given me many gems over time: pill sized expanding travel towels? Sure why not, but selling me a colourful crackpipe honestly has me scared as to what Facebook has on me for advertising data.
Whilst it may be quite funny to laugh about this absurdity, we do have to consider some of the less funny sides of wish. Firstly loads of the stuff is a scam, many of the items are not even close to what is advertised, especially on the clothing and electronics side. Many of the CPUs sold are actually older circuit boards that have been renamed on the bios, or as the youtuber Linustechtips has shown, if you order a graphics card for $1 you will instead receive keychains or other loose bric-a-brac. The clothing also has a tendency to be terribly made, does not resemble the original and can be made with materials and dyes that irritate the skin or trigger allergies.
Plenty of older social media users may have fallen victim to this borderline predatory marketing
Sure, ordering cheap rubbish online from what is blatantly a scam may seem obviously stupid – and you get what you pay for. Nonetheless, many people who are advertised too are not tech literate or as able to identify the dubious nature of the website. Facebook has a way higher average age than other social media and as anyone who has their parents or other older family on facebook knows, they are not good at identifying scams like this, and plenty may have fallen victim to this borderline predatory marketing.
A final thought on wish is its lacking worries on identification: it sells some incredibly dangerous stuff, which I have witnessed as my jokey brother ordered a knife on wish which arrived with no ID check or questions asked. This website delivered a large sharp knife to a 14 year old: seems like a great idea.
Ultimately wish is an entertaining yet troubling online market and perhaps more regulation and control needs to be implemented to prevent these issues. Yet it should be said that many sellers on it are dependent on this income, and the cheaper items are necessary for users that cannot afford items of greater quality.