In Internet, Lifestyle on
September 28, 2017

The Truth About the “Free [Item]! Just pay shipping!” Schemes on Facebook

the truth about the free item just pay shipping schemes on facebook

Scenario: You’re chilling in bed on a lovely Saturday evening, scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed when you suddenly see something like this:

facebook scheme

Facebook screenshot of a “store” that “gives away” free watches

You immediately think, this can’t be! Or if you’re as gullible as I am, you add a bunch to your cart and almost check out, thinking you’re saving loads of money. Because why not, right? The watches are beautiful. The website also looks so neat and professional. Thank goodness I snapped back to my senses and immediately closed the tab because I thought, they’re too good to be free.

These are not scams, but schemes.

Scams vs. Schemes

According to Merriam-Webster, a scam is a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation, while a scheme is a plan or program of action, especially a crafty or secret one.

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“Free [Item]! Just Pay Shipping!” Scheme Exposed

A couple of months back, I was looking for a way to earn extra income online. I was on my 3-month long holiday and while my work was already paying me even on holidays, I needed to make use of my extra time. I was bored at home, solely woke up to eat and browse the internet.

So there I was, googling “ways to earn money online” like everybody else on the internet, and I found this scheme called flipping. I was interested, so I researched about it.

Basically, you put up a shop on Shopify, an online e-commerce platform, list dirt cheap items from China from either Alibaba.com or Aliexpress.com, and either sell them with a ridiculous mark up with free shipping or give them away for free and ask the customer to just pay for the shipping. These sellers don’t even need proper capital funds to start because the Chinese suppliers ship items for free worldwide.

So to make it short, this is the process:

  1. Seller list supplier items on their shop
  2. Customer orders
  3. Seller orders from Chinese supplier
  4. Chinese supplier ships to customer

…the seller only working as a middleman.

Alibaba and Aliexpress ship their items for free from China, and I mean it when I say they’re dirt cheap. A $1 item from these sites are sold for as much as $40 or so on these Shopify stores. These Shopify stores then utilise Facebook’s advertising service, and that is why you see these suspicious sponsored ads on your newsfeed. They can also be found on Instagram and Twitter!

This is why they are not scams, but schemes. You will still receive the items you ordered after a month or so, but you’re not getting your money’s worth. You are also making these Shopify stores filthy rich if you fall into the scheme. Most of them are earning as much $200,000.00+ a week!

Hard Evidence

I will not make any claims without sufficient evidence, so let me show you just one example how these Shopify sellers take advantage of customers.

Let’s take this watch for example, sold by the same shop on the first photo on this blog.

The Truth About the Free Item! Just pay shipping! Schemes on Facebook

Screenshot of the Shopify Store selling overpriced watches.

The store is claiming that the original price of the item is a whopping $79.00. But now since they have an offer that “ends in 6 hours”, it’s free, just pay shipping!

I took one for the team and added one to my cart. I checked out using a pseudo name with made up details, and apparently this is what I need to pay for.

The Truth About the “Free [Item]! Just pay shipping!” Schemes on Facebook

Screenshot of the checkout area

I have to pay $13 for shipping worldwide for a free watch? Sweet!… NOT.

Guess what? I found the exact watch on Aliexpress. You won’t believe it.

The Truth About the “Free [Item]! Just pay shipping!” Schemes on Facebook

Screenshot of Aliexpress watch

It’s $0.86 to $1.37 only! You pay $1.37 if you’re only ordering 1 piece but you get discounts when you order in bulk so the cheapest you’ll get it for is $0.87. This is a stinky scheme!

The supplier of this watch in particular offers free shipping worldwide even for just a piece, so you can only imagine how much these Shopify sellers are earning per sale. And these are just watches! They sell loads of other different stuff and if it’s an even more expensive item, the mark up is even more outrageous.

I apologise to these Shopify sellers if I felt the need to debunk their advantageous schemes but the customers have to know.

Advice to Customers & Social Media Users

If you’re a social media user who’s been exposed to these kinds of schemes, I suggest you purchase directly off of Aliexpress or Alibaba. You will save more money and you will have more options to choose from.

I hope this blog has been informative and helpful!

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4 Comments

  • Karla

    Sneaky advertisements! There are also Instagram posts like that. Ugh. So annoying.

    September 28, 2017 at 10:44 am Reply
    • karlamaye

      I know! I keep seeing sponsored ads like them everywhere. I thought I had to blog about it!

      September 28, 2017 at 10:51 am Reply
  • iamsweetbie

    Grabe, is this for real? The first one I saw was firmoo but buti na lang I didn’t opt to have one simply because I may not receive it kasi incomplete address ako.

    September 30, 2017 at 8:14 pm Reply
    • karlamaye

      Glad you didn’t! Otherwise they would’ve blasted your e-mail with annoying promotions. And yes it’s for real! Kahit sa twitter and instagram ganito ang ginagawa nila 🙁

      September 30, 2017 at 9:05 pm Reply

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