Deal site accused of selling fake TOMS shoes
Darcy Wintonyk and Lynda Steele, CTV British Columbia
Published Tuesday, July 10, 2012 4:35PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 12, 2012 6:59PM PDT
A daily deal website is under fire amid allegations it's offering a knockoff version of a popular product.
Angry consumers all across Canada bought what they thought were authentic TOMS shoes but it appears the deal may have been too good to be true – and buyers want their money back.
Winnie Huang was delighted to find her beloved TOMS shoes on the DealTicker website for $29 a pair, with an additional $10 for shipping.
Huang’s excitement turned to suspicion when the shoes arrived. She thought the light blue shoes looked flimsy, and the insoles were not sewn to the sole like they normally are.
Upon further inspection she realized the word ‘purchase’ was spelled wrong in the motto on the inside sole, which normally reads: “With every pair you purchase TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need.”
“It says with every pair you ‘orchase,’” she said. “I was like, yup, that's a fake pair of TOMS – and I just got scammed.”
Consumers from coast to coast went online on message boards to vent their anger about the deal.
But DealTicker says refunds will only be given once the shoes are shipped back to the merchant at the customer's expense.
“Since the mailing of the products, certain customers complained of incorrect sizes being shipped and others questioned the authenticity of the product. We always stand behind our customers and provide refunds within our refund policy guidelines,” an agent from DealTicker Customer Support wrote to Steele on Your Side.
Huang said shipping back the shoes would cost her an additional $12 on top of the $10 she paid upfront to have the pair delivered to her home.
"I said it's absolutely unacceptable, because first of all, you falsely advertised and you're basically selling knockoff items on the internet to thousands of Canadians,” Huang said.
DealTicker told us they analyzed one sample pair before offering the promotion.
"The shoes that were delivered to us did not have any grammatical/spelling errors...all questions surrounding authenticity were addressed,” a company spokesperson said.
The merchant that offered the shoes to DealTicker, e-accessories.ca, did not respond to multiple interview requests.
It did post this message to angry customers online: "We purchase from a distributor of TOMS shoes, and have to date, found their products to be authentic and reliable."
TOMS said its One-for-One promotion, which gives a pair of shoes to a needy child in Africa for every pair sold, does not apply in the DealTicker sale.
"TOMS is not affiliated with the offer in question or the online retailer in any way,” a spokesperson told Steele on Your Side.
Annalea Krebs of the Vancouver-based Ethical Deal website was also unknowingly selling fake TOMS. She said her company was “misled” about the shoes.
"They claimed they were authentic, and it wasn't until after the promotion ran that we learned that they weren't,” Krebs said.
Ethical Deal immediately yanked the deal after negative feedback from customers and offered a full refund to customers.
The company sold 540 pairs of the shoes within hours of offering the promotion. Krebs said removing the deal was a hit to potential earnings but important to keep the trust of her company’s clients, who count on them to offer deals from responsible companies.
“There was definitely a lost revenue opportunity there, but we decided to do the right thing and pull the ads since it didn’t meet our criteria,” she said.
Huang thinks DealTicker should have yanked its deal.
"I don't think I’ll ever buy into DealTicker again. In fact, I don't know if I can trust all those daily deals out there,” she said.
TOMS has launched an internal investigation into the deal.