Protect Yourself When Buying Hair Online! (My Gemtress Scam Story)

Updated : Oct 09, 2019 in Articles

Protect Yourself When Buying Hair Online! (My Gemtress Scam Story)


– Hey everybody, Lauren here with a wig or topper story for you this time. Usually I do a review
when I’m doing a video. But I wanted to share a story with you and it’s gonna be long, so bear with me. I’ll put a blog post up
soon that will kind of go over in a easier to read,
I guess, format what happened. But I’m just gonna ramble through it right now on video so that you have it. So first off, if you haven’t
subscribed, please subscribe. I do a lot of wig and topper reviews and then random things like this. So if you want to stay in the
loop, subscribe to my channel. Other thing, I’m outside, obviously. It gets a little noisy in this area. I have chickens, you’ll probably see ’em walking around during the video, but the neighbors have chickens too, so it gets a little loud. But I wanted to talk to you a little bit about an experience I had
purchasing human hair last year, which carried over into this year. And I want you guys to be aware because it can be risky
sometimes purchasing online. So, I’m gonna go through
my whole story for you and hopefully you won’t have the
same experience that I did when you’re purchasing online. So, I have decided not to share this woman’s name and
company in this video. You can head to my blog
and shoot me an email, my contact information is there,
and I’ll tell you about it. But I’ve decided not
to put it out publicly for my own reasons. But I will tell you, this
woman that sold hair, I had known her for a couple
years in the hair community. She was lovely to talk
to, super knowledgeable. And has procured, I guess for
lack of a better word, hair and coloring services for a
lot of people that I know. So I felt comfortable purchasing from her. She is a one or two woman
shop located in Sacramento. And I think it’s Sacramento,
yeah, not San Diego, it is Sacramento. So I’ll leave it at that. But in April of last year, so 2016, I had put in an order with her
for a custom Gemtress topper. I think the specs were 16
inches, don’t know the color, kind of like a light brown. I wanted a lace front and I
wanted a polyurethane rim. So the poly rim is that
little like plastic piece that goes across the front. And that’s important
for me because I do glue areas of my topper to the top of my head. So I think those were the major specs. I can’t think of anything else. Oh, the base was somewhere
around an eight by eight, an eight by nine, something like that. So pretty standard for what I wear. So I was originally
quoted eight to 10 weeks and the purchase price was $750ish. Which she invoiced me and I
paid with a Visa debit card. That’ll become important later. Sorry, it’s getting a little loud. So that was in April of 2016. So quoted eight to 10 weeks,
wasn’t in a hurry by any means. So about 12, 13, maybe 14 weeks had passed and I had reached out to her asking, hey, what’s the status of the piece? Again, wasn’t in any hurry. I know custom can
sometimes take some time. And that’s actually a point of contention in the hair community. Some people say eight to 10 weeks is crazy for a custom piece. Some people say it’s totally fine. I’m in the later boat. I think that things can
sometimes take time. So eight to 10 weeks I
wasn’t concerned with. 12 weeks I wasn’t concerned with. But around the 12 to 14 week
mark, I reached out to her and asked what the
status was of the piece. And it took her a week or
two to get back with me, but she did. And she said, “Hey, it’s actually ready. “But unfortunately it
didn’t pass quality control “at the factory so they have to tweak it “or remake it or whatever it was gonna be. “It wasn’t ready yet.” So I said, that’s fine,
would much rather– Gosh I’m so sorry. Hey, shh! Would much rather have
the piece be correct than have a piece that was faulty. So they remade it or tweaked it or whatever it is that they did. And it actually took another, it was probably eight to 10 weeks by the time that she contacted me saying that the piece
was ready to ship out. So it got to me. Hope that timeline makes sense. So I ordered in April, by the time I got the
piece it was October. So a little bit longer than I thought. But when I got the piece, I opened it up. The hair felt really great,
it was European hair. The length was good. She had colored it for me. The color wasn’t 100% what I wanted. I had actually sent her
my everyday piece to copy. But I know that’s difficult,
so I was okay with the color. It was close. And then the cut of it,
she had cut it as well. She had cut some long bangs
that ended right about here. I don’t typically wear bangs, so I wasn’t 100% pleased with that, but I, since I do tuck behind
my ear, I could hide it. So it wasn’t a huge deal. But two things that I noticed. So, one, it did not have a
lace front like I had ordered. It had a folded lace rim which we can talk about at another time, it’s completely different
from a lace front. And then it didn’t have
the polyurethane front like I had ordered, which
is kind of a deal breaker. There’s ways to work around it, but it’s kind of a deal breaker
when you ordered something custom for it not to be
100% to your spec, right? So, I contacted her and she said, she didn’t mention the
PU rim, but she said, “Yeah, I did notice that
the lace was super short “and not quite right. “So let’s go ahead and
send it back to the factory “and have it remade.” So, I thought it was kind
of strange that she had sent me a piece that she
noticed wasn’t correct, but who knows? She’s busy, I don’t know, I
didn’t think too much of it. But I remember thinking,
that’s kind of weird. Plus I had to ship it
back to her on my dime. Which wasn’t too expensive,
20 bucks, 25 bucks when you factor in insurance. But it was kind of
annoying that I had to pay to ship it back when
the fault wasn’t mine. So, because it had taken
so long and my bio hair had grown quite a bit, I asked her, hey since they’re remaking it, can I pay a couple hundred extra bucks, or however much it cost,
to go from 16 inches to 20, because my hair is pretty long. And she said, “Yep, that’s no problem.” Super communicative, I
had always spoken with her over Facebook Messenger, so this was also over Facebook Messenger. So she called, she got a price for me. It was gonna be another I think it was 300 and something dollars. And I wasn’t even really thinking. So previously she had invoiced me. But I didn’t, wasn’t thinking
about that at the time. So I said, okay, what’s
your PayPal address, let me send it to you. So she gave me her PayPal address and I sent her over another
300 and change via PayPal. So that was in late October. The last communication I got from her was a thumbs up on Facebook Messenger that she would put in the order. She went over exactly what I wanted, it looked fine and then that was that. So it was right before Halloween 2016. So again, I knew it would
take eight or 10 or 12 weeks. So I didn’t think much
of it, not in a hurry. But I had recommended
her to a couple readers, so two people who
ended up placing an order. They had seen the actual
piece on me when I got it in and they were impressed with it and I had good things to say about her. So they placed an order as well. So it was either very late December, so about eight weeks after
I ordered, or early January, and I’d actually heard from
both of these ladies separately who said that they’ve been
trying to reach the seller, but they haven’t heard back and they thought that was strange. So I thought, she’d always been super communicative with me over Facebook. It’s the holidays, maybe
she got sick, who knows? Let’s give her a little bit. So about a week went by
and I either went back out to my two friends or they
wrote me again, I can’t recall. But they had still not heard from her and it had been a few weeks for them, so I thought that was
really, really strange. I was a little unsettled about it, but not super worried yet. So, I said, okay, let me reach out to her. In the past she had always
messaged me back within hours. So I left her a Facebook message. And I didn’t hear. I probably left her two or three messages over the course of a week. When I hadn’t heard from her there, I sent an email to her business email. Didn’t hear. And I left a phone call as well. So this all was over the course of, the Facebook Messenger was about a week, but the total time that I was
trying to communicate with her was a good three weeks and I
hadn’t heard back from her. So, it was interesting,
I knew of another woman that she had hired into her business, I believe to help her color. So I sent her a Facebook
message and just said, hey, I haven’t heard from so and so, I understand you work there. Do you have any update? Is she sick? What’s going on? Because I’ve been waiting and
two of my referrals have also been waiting and that’s just
very much so unlike her. And I don’t know if it
was that message or what, but the timing just so
happened that that very day the seller deactivated her Facebook and then also took down
her business website. And I think to this day, it’s still down. I think she’s back on
Facebook, I’m not quite sure, but it was very strange, she
just completely disappeared. So, to me that was a big warning sign. So I told my two referrals,
I said, put in a claim with your bank, something
is very strange here. I had poked around the hair
community a little bit. There’s a lot of people
out there who defended her, said that she’s a good
person, which I agree, she probably is a good person. Maybe she got sick and what not. But at this point she
had thousands of dollars between myself and just two other people. And wasn’t communicating back
and it was a little scary when someone like that has your money. So, all three of us put in a claim. So like I had mentioned, I
had used a Visa debit card. It was actually through Wells Fargo. I put in a claim with them. My one referral also used
I believe the same thing, a Wells Fargo Visa debit card,
I could be wrong on that. I do remember it was Wells Fargo. So she put in a claim as well. She had been waiting, it was either, it might’ve been three
months, I don’t know. I’d have to go back and
verify, don’t quote me on that. No, it was probably
more than three months. The other girl had paid with PayPal and she was coming up on,
I believe, six months. And the important thing to know is that, well, let me start with my claim first. So I put in the claim. It said, the notice that
I got said it would take about 10 days for them to investigate and contact me with next steps. So still haven’t heard from the seller during this time obviously. But they came back and
they denied my claim. And they basically said because, I think there is either
a 60, 90 or 120 day, I can’t remember, limit in
which you can submit a claim. And at this point it had
been like nine months, so I was well past that. So I actually put in, I
tried to dispute that claim. So they reopened that back up. So meanwhile my one
referral who also had used a debit card put in a claim. And then the other person who
used PayPal, put in a claim. So the nice thing, PayPal
wiped it out immediately because, yeah, I don’t know
what PayPal does on their ends, but there was no
communication from the seller. Obviously the seller had not
shipped my referral her hair. So PayPal because it
was within, I believe, it’s either 100 or 100, or I’m sorry, either 120 or 180 days,
because it was within that, there was basically no
contesting anything. So they gave my one friend’s
money back right away, which was awesome. The one person, the other
girl who put in a dispute with her debit card, I
believe, she came back and, I can’t remember what happened, I think the bank requested more time. That happened once or twice with her which was really kind of annoying. But with her, well, I’ll hold on her. So go back to where I disputed my claim. So they ended up coming back
after another 30 days or so and they said there was
absolutely nothing they could do. Because of the time limits,
the statute of limitations or whatever you call it, had passed. So, I was out 1,100 something dollars. So my one friend got her money back. The other friend actually had just heard, so she started this whole
process in late January. Her case just wrapped
up within the past week, which is why I’m now doing the video, because those two have
been made whole, thank God. So, at the very end of it,
her bank requested more time, but then the seller had
come back and tried to prove that she had, she came
back with this proof. Which really all it was
was a receipt of purchase. And you know, no one’s saying
we didn’t purchase from her. We’re just saying, we’ve
had no communication. It’s been forever and we
still don’t have our hair. So, the bank ended up, of
course, siding with the customer and she got, my friend got
her official notification that she got her money
back, it was like 900 bucks. So, yeah, so it was an
almost year thing for me and six or nine months for the
other two that I had referred so I thought that was a little crazy. A little crazy. What else can I tell you that
was interesting about this? Oh, well, how it resolved for me. I’m sure that’s what you guys wanna know. So my bank denied me and I thought, crap, I’m out all this money. So I started messaging
her again on Facebook once she reactivated and
she ended up refunding me the total price minus
a 25% restocking fee. Which I thought was a little crazy because it’s not like I
decided I didn’t want the hair. Or it’s not like I returned it to her. Like it was wrong, she sent it back and then she disappeared. So, I was grateful to at least have 75% of what I paid for it,
but still kind of pissed that like I didn’t have the full amount. So I let things go for a week a two and then totally out of the blue, I got a refund for the
other 25% via PayPal. So she, I paid with my debit card, but she ended up refunding me at the very end 100% via PayPal. So it was totally,
totally random and weird. And I still don’t know
exactly what happened. But I wanted to share with you guys that this stuff does happen. I can’t imagine it happens
with the bigger companies. I’ve worked with a lot of great companies. And I’m really careful on who I promote and the products that I promote. I mean, from a synthetic standpoint, I know the people at Jon
Renau, they’re super awesome. Oops, sorry, got a chicken
that just flew up here. Get down. From a human hair perspective. Sorry about that. From a human hair perspective, the folks at Joli Cameleon are amazing. The Tressmerize team is wonderful. Gardeaux wigs is super,
I mean all these people I know personally to some extent. I would trust them 100%. But the independent sellers, I think you kind of need
to protect yourself. And what I would really, really recommend is looking into the terms and conditions of your card and things like PayPal. And really, if you’re gonna
put a payment forward, pay with something that protects you. So, from what I can tell PayPal is really, really generous with their terms. I do think it’s six months. So that probably offers
you the best protection. Just be careful when you’re
making these purchases. Get everything in writing,
get the specs in writing. Get the timeline in writing because if you do have to put a claim for it, you need to submit all of that for review, which is totally annoying. I had actually thought that yes, this independent seller sold me the piece, but maybe I would have some
sort of recourse by reaching out directly to the manufacturer,
which was Gemtress. And I did, I emailed
them a couple times and, probably twice, and
both times the gentleman who wrote me back, I
think his name was David, he said basically his hands were tied. There was nothing he can
do because I purchased through this independent seller. Really what I wanted to find out, I had ordered a custom
piece many, many moons ago from Jon Renau, from an independent salon that was local to me when
I lived out of state. And when I got that piece, my
name was sewn into the tag. So I was hoping they
could at least look up anything they had on order
from this independent seller and then maybe my name
would be in the tag. I wanted to see after I sent it back if the factory was indeed working on it. I just had no proof that the
hair was even being worked on. If that makes sense. But Gemtress wasn’t helpful at all. They basically tried to refer me– Sorry, there’s an airplane,
hopefully you can still hear me. (plane engine roaring) They tried to refer me to
another independent seller. And I was like, I’m out
$1,100 with one seller, I’m not gonna go purchase
another piece with another. That doesn’t make any sense at all. So, that’s my story, it’s
actually the story of three of us. All three have a happy ending, but it was incredibly
annoying to go through that. It just, an awful journey. As if hair loss wasn’t bad enough to be kind of raked over the coals by an independent seller who actually has hair loss as well, was a little crazy. So I’m glad the banks, PayPal,
financial institutions, sided with the customer. It’s a shame that it took
months upon months upon months for all three of us to get our money back. And actually I was screwed. So I’m grateful that she
did give me my money back. But hot damn. (chuckles) Stuff shouldn’t happen, right? So just protect yourself when
you’re purchasing online. This video has gotten long,
so I’m about to sign off. But head on over to the blog, there’ll be a couple more
details there as well in an easy to read format. And then I’ll have some
tips that you should really think about using
when you’re purchasing online from smaller places just to
make sure that you’re protected. So, thanks for listening to my ramble. Did not anticipate this being this long. But it’s a long story and I
think it needs to be heard. And if anyone is looking at purchasing from somebody in Sacramento,
please head to my blog, contact me, I’ll let you
know what the company is just to make sure that
you can really think about if you wanna proceed doing
business with this company. So, have a good one.

35 Comments

  • Wish I could "love" this. So proud you're speaking out on this mess, but I still think you're too kind not to "out" her. She's lucky you're such a sweetheart 💜

  • What stress .maybe she had a breakdown who knows ,still sucks.
    That's alot of money seems in the hair world there's alot of shady characters out there.
    I had chickens when my kids were young too 🙂

  • oh my gosh! what a hot mess you three had to go through!! I'm glad you got your money back, but what a hassle! The chickens made me laugh! We have a coop and chickens too!!! So funny!!

  • Wow I'm going through the same now lucky I paid with Barclaycard and there looking into it now for me DO NOT BUY FROM WIGSMARK.CO.UK it's a scam site it was my first wig £91 pounds when it came it was a rag in a box unbelievable really shocking it was worthless wish I could show you 😓😓 just hoping I get my money back 🤞🤞🤞xx thank you for the share on this people need to be aware of these scams xxx

  • What a horror story! You spent so much money and you had to email back and forth to get your item that they scrwed up with to begin with and you had to pay to send it back?!!! You should really put that womans name on the walk of shame. I live in Sweden and I had to wait for topper like tree weeks, they just missed my order, very annoying, but I got my topper in the end. I did not pay for it in advance though.

  • I am sorry to hear this happened to you but THANK you for telling your story so others may avoid a similar situation. I have been looking for a hair topper for a while and just recently ordered from Tressmerize. I noticed you list them as someone you recommend but couldn't find a review post from you on them. Is that something you plan to do in the future? Thank you for your videos.

  • So glad you got your money back! What a nightmare sounds like a mess. Have you ever ordered from Name Brand Wigs? I look forward to watching your other videos. Thanks

  • Thanks so much for responding. I've just started this journey and not sure which co. is legit. I ordered when they had 30 percent off. Thanks

  • I wish we could add pictures here so you could get a good laugh at what I thought I was ordering and what actually came to me. Here's a partial list of scam wig sites.
    http://www.elegantwigs.com/beware.html

  • Sorry to hear what you had to go through. I want t tell you that ur so confident …. I wish I could be , I just start to lose my hair up front and I'm freaking out lol. You look so beautiful though and you gave me some hope . Ps the chicken flying up was cute ….
    thank you

  • honestly i'm having a nightmare with trying to find a full lace 613 human hair wig… had an awful time with aliexpress trying to get a refund as my money wouldn't work due to a problem with transferring the money :(( do you know any other websites that sell these sorts of wigs? x

  • Thanks for sharing this. it's so scary to think you could lose so much money but I'm happy it turned out so well for you despite all the hassle & stress 🙂 By the way the chicken stole the show lol!

  • You should really have named her to protect other consumers from going through the same process. I'm sure there were many more women who went through what you 3 went through, and there may be many more to come. I understand that in the end you were refunded, but you have a platform, and your video could have been a way for people easily google her, see the video, and reconsider their purchase.

  • I think there should be a list of reputable online sellers. I’ve seen so many companies with horrible reviews. It pays to research before purchasing.

  • You are way too trusting. But don’t blame yourself. Look at all the brilliant folks who trusted Madoff! Do these kind of toppers really cost that much?
    Never use anything with “debit card” on the card cause it’s attached to your bank account. Only use a real credit card. Also the fraud timeline should start the day you find out you’ve been defrauded!!!!

  • I have a paypal account but almost never use it…..well after watching your video guess I am going to be paying with my card less frequent than with Paypal when buying online, thank you for that information

  • You were very generous and considerate, Lauren, in believing over and over again that the timeframe in which it took for her to get back to you at first could have been due to illness or her being very busy, etc., but honey, not me. You did real good in that department, 'cause if it had been me, there's no way on heaven or earth I would have been as patient. She would have felt my wrath, I can assure you. I don't do business that way, especially when it comes to someone taking advantage of me and my paying up front that kind of money. Nevertheless, despite what you went through, and it was a lot, all things considered, you got your money back in full and I'm happy for you, but you definitely had to jump through a few hoops to get it. As far as her reimbursing you the additional 25% via Pay Pal, it was probably because of your patient demeanor, and, more importantly, because she felt that it was the right thing to do. (Karma would have kicked in eventually, though, if she didn't.) But, if it were me dealing with her, she would have kept it…LOL!! In any event, I'm sure you learned a valuable lesson with her and I'm so sure you will be more cautious in the future. Thanks for sharing your story. It was a doozie!

  • I bought 2 toppers from uniwgs, and the first one i like it..but the second time that i order, the lace didn't lay flat on my head,and i asked to replace to a smaller size,or my refund back…they just ignored me they don't respond bavk anymore…what sould i do now?

  • Hi. Anyone here wants to buy a human hair? I have a gorgeos beutiful virgin straight hair, i can provide details and photos.i live in virginia.

  • unforgivable taking advantage of vulnerable individuals. I have had the odd horror story but I vet them with loads of emails prior to sending money. If it doesn't feel right, I move onto the next. Does anyone know anything about highlinewigs, someone called Sharon as I'm thinking of using her?

  • Never pay with anything but PayPal OR a prepaid Visa card. You should have told us – although I'm guessing starts with "G"…

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