Image Credit: Instagram.com

Dubai: If you are an Instagram user you should now be used to seeing advertisements that peddle products based on your search patterns online. Like me, you have probably purchased many items that caught your attention, this way. Most of the time, when it comes to online shopping, you order your item and it is delivered to you in a timely fashion and everything is fine.

However, there is a growing emergence of fraudster companies using Instagram to push sponsored advertising hoping to prey on customers.

That’s what happened to me recently, as I have purchased many baby and maternity items via companies who push their products on Instagram. 

One such company, Binkish, unbeknownst to me, was where I failed to properly do a background check on the company before making a purchase, which was never even delivered.

After not receiving my item for over two months and emailing back and forth with “customer support” I realised that there was some serious problem.

Logging into their website, there was no contact number for customer service. Just a general email and an address in London which says, in parenthesis: “This is not an address for return”. It does not say where this company is based but they seem to be originating in China because of a disclaimer on their website about disruptions during Chinese holidays.

Their Facebook page is full of comments from angry customers who, like me, have never received their purchased items.

One user Lucille said: “I ordered a month ago and still haven’t received anything. Two weeks ago they messed me and promised my item would be shipped in a week and they would send me a tracking number. I have not received the tracking number yet”.

Another user Krissy comments below her: “Don’t bother with this…ordered almost two months ago and never came in, no one responding.”

Michelle writes: “Don’t order from here you will never get your stuff and they will ignore you when you ask for your money back.”

The customer support emails I received seemed very much to be automated responses and I am pretty sure that I am actually not talking to a human being.

When I insisted that a manager call me, I was ignored several times, until finally they emailed me and said there is no phone support service.

Consumers should verify the companies before making purchases, especially when viewing sponsored content on Instagram.

Gulf News contacted Binkish to request a comment, but they could not be reached.

Here are a few helpful tips:

Make sure there is a customer support phone number

Log on to the website and read about the company. The company should have a permanent address and most importantly a customer service telephone number. Make sure you call the number to verify it is functioning and you can actually speak to a human being before making any purchases.

Always read the Facebook Reviews

The company should have a Facebook account where users can post feedback. This is important to verify as well. Maybe the company is not a fraud per se, but they have issues with delayed deliveries or damaged products. Customers can post their feedback about the company here so you can get a better idea about the experiences people are having.

What are their payment methods?

If a company does not give you the option for PayPal, this is usually a cause for concern. PayPal is the safest way to make purchases online and limit credit card theft. 

Did you get a tracking number?

If you have purchased an item you should receive a confirmation number and tracking number. Receiving only a confirmation number doesn’t guarantee you that your product will arrive. It is only once the tracking number is issued where you can follow up with exactly where you product is and when it will be shipped. If you do not receive a tracking number within a week of your purchase this is a cause for concern.

Report to Instagram

If you have enough evidence that the company is a fraud, make sure to report the company on Instagram. If Instagram get enough complaints they could penalise or block the company from advertising with them.