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27 Aug 2020

What is Wish.com and is it safe to buy from?

We reveal everything you need to know about Wish.com - and why there are certain products you might want to avoid
Wish website on laptop

Wish.com is a serious player in the world of online marketplaces, and is well known for offering an eclectic and often amusing mix of cheap, quirky items for sale online.

But don't be fooled - our research has shown that some of the products it sells can vary from misleading to downright dangerous.

Find out more about the fake, illegal and dangerous products we found for sale on Wish.com.

What is Wish.com?

Wish.com connects millions of shoppers with sellers all over the world, offering everything from everyday basics to the weird and wacky. It claims to be one of the world's fastest-growing shopping apps, with customers in more than 130 countries. Its algorithms claim to help tailor products that customers see to their interests and budget, and Wish takes a commission from every product sold. Its business model prioritises value over brand, packaging or speedy delivery.

Wish.com was founded in 2010, by Peter Szulczewski and Danny Zhang, who met at university in Ontario, Canada. Szulczewski remains the CEO. The San Francisco-based company now has offices all over the world including Amsterdam, Toronto, and Shanghai and employs more than 800 people.

In June 2020, Wish.com had 122.5 million visits according to web analytics service Similarweb, with 69.9 unique visitors from around the world. And it had almost eight million unique visits from the UK for the same month. That places it as the 118th most-visited website in the UK and the eighth most-visited online marketplace in the UK.

Wish.com listing

What does Wish.com sell?

From jewellery to shoes, tablets to smartphones, fancy dress to baby nappies and everything in between; Wish.com sells almost anything you can think of.

It's caused hilarity on social media for offering up items as bizarre as fake plastic human tongues and tutus for dogs.

And while it claims to tailor products customers see in their feed, many shoppers are left baffled by the items marketed to them - pigeon carriers, trousers printed with Hollywood actor Nicholas Cage's face, helmets for chickens and loo roll earrings, to name but a few.

Are products on Wish.com genuine?

While there's plenty of fun to be had with some of the quirky, cheap items on sale at Wish, those looking to make more serious purchases should be warned - our research has uncovered illegal and fake products for sale.

As part of an investigation into Wish.com we ordered a range of products to judge their authenticity - and of the four that arrived in time for our investigation, we found problems with each.

These included counterfeit headphones and a counterfeit smartphone, but more importantly we also found a dangerous child car seat that was illegal to use in the UK.

We also have concerns about its returns policies and pricing practices.

Video: dangerous products found on Wish.com

Find out why the child car seat we found on Wish.com is illegal to sell in the UK.

Are the prices on Wish.com real?

Wish boasts of selling at rock-bottom prices and claims huge discounts on some items, but we think you should take the prices on Wish.com with a veritable handful of salt.

A smartphone called 'P30 Pro' that looked from the image to be Huawei's flagship smartphone claimed to be reduced from £2,081 to £64.22 - the Huawei P30 Pro was launched at £899 and typically sells at £492 now so this is a huge claimed reduction in price.

Similarly, a £20 pair of supposedly refurbished Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones that, when new, should cost around £259, claimed to be reduced from £470.

Guidance from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute says pricing practices must be fair and not misleading. It says when considering whether a price reduction is genuine you should consider how long the product was on sale at the higher price compared with the lower price, how recently the higher price was offered at and whether significant sales were made at the higher price.

The Wish website did not make it clear when or how long the products were on sale at the claimed 'was' prices or whether many were sold at that higher price.

We asked Wish to explain what it based its 'was' prices on but it didn't answer our questions.

What are Wish.com's return policies?

Wish.com's returns policy is outlined on its website but we believe it is confusing and, in places, misleading.

The policy says if an item doesn't arrive, customers can request a refund within 30 days of the latest estimated delivery date. This is something customers are legally entitled to and we don't think the website makes this clear enough.

The website goes on to say that if an item is delayed, but still in transit, it may offer a partial refund to offset shipping costs or fees. However, it doesn't make clear what constitutes a delay and omits to explain that you would be entitled to break the contract and get a full refund.

Find out more: Your rights returning something bought online

How to contact Wish.com customer support

The policy directs customers to make return and refund requests online.

Indeed, we could only find customer support online and there are no UK customer phone numbers or postal addresses we could find on the Wish website. When we requested refunds for the items we ordered that were delayed or did not arrive at all, we had to do to it online and there was no clear way to question the standard options presented to us.

Are Wish.com products fake or dangerous?

We have previously found dangerous smoke alarms, Christmas tree lights and USB chargers and travel adaptors for sale on Wish.com.

Wish states it has a 'zero-tolerance policy against counterfeit, dangerous or inappropriate product listings' and provides an email address for customers to report any listings that appear suspicious.

We reported concerns about the three fake and one illegal and dangerous product we were able to buy using the email address provided but it was unclear whether any action was taken as a result of this. All four listings have now been removed.

Find out more: How to spot fake or counterfeit products.

Are Wish.com customer reviews fake?

Wish says its reviews are authentic. Its website states: 'Customer feedback helps us identify quality products. We encourage customers to submit honest reviews, both positive and negative, to provide their fellow shoppers with all the product and delivery information they need.'

Wish.com appears to attract reviews from customers all over the world, and in truth it's difficult to tell if these are real or fake. What we can say is that we've seen many reviews on products, such as the fake Apple Airpods, raising concerns that they were not genuine. This doesn't seem to have been picked up by Wish, but does underline the importance of doing your research carefully before you buy.

Find out more about our campaign to Stop Fake Reviews.

Should I buy from Wish.com?

If you prioritise rock-bottom prices above all else, Wish.com could be an option for some basic essentials or fun purchases. But if you want helpful customer support, fast delivery, a good right to recourse if things go wrong and some guarantees over product quality it's probably better to look elsewhere.

Based on our experience, we'd also suggest thinking carefully about buying anything that appears genuine if the price seems too good to be true, or anything that has safety considerations, such as the child's car seat we bought.

Ultimately, while Wish.com operates legitimately, we have found it selling counterfeit, illegal or dangerous products. We also have concerns over its returns policies, customer support and pricing.

What does Wish.com say?

We put the findings of our investigation into fake and dangerous products to Wish.com. A spokesperson said: 'Wish is an online marketplace that connects millions of users to a wide range of merchants all over the world. All of the merchants on our platform are required to adhere to local laws wherever their goods are sold. Our merchant terms of service clearly set out our expectations with regards to product safety, pricing and infringement of intellectual property rights (for which we have a zero-tolerance policy).

'Where customers are not satisfied with their purchase, Wish has a comprehensive refund and returns policy that is designed to be fair to the consumers and merchants using our platform. The policy, which is publicly available on our website and fully compliant with local laws, covers a number of eventualities, including incorrect and missing orders and queries surrounding our payment methods. It is supplementary to any rights a consumer has with a merchant directly.

'We'd like to thank Which? for bringing these products to our attention. We are in the process of removing these items and the merchants in question have been reminded of the importance of complying with local laws.'