BBB Metro New York Alert about Two Online Retailers

  
     
June 12, 2017

(New York, NY)  Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York (BBB) is alerting consumers about two online retailers, Mirina Collections and Nora NYC, that have received multiple consumer complaints filed with BBB. These complaints have not been resolved by the two retailers and, in BBB’s determination, have exhibited an ongoing pattern of deceptive advertising practices. 

In January 2016, BBB began receiving consumer complaints about Mirina Collections. Consumers reported that they had been approached via email by representatives of Mirina Collections to become social media “brand ambassadors.” In exchange, they were allegedly offered a unique handmade necklace (supposedly valued at $180) for tagging the company in photos on their Instagram feeds, as well as 20% Mirina discount codes for the consumers’ Instagram followers. 

Consumers alleged that Mirina Collections required them to pay $40 for shipping and handling of the offered necklace. Many of these consumers reported that, when received, the necklace was not consistent with the representation on the website and that the quality appeared to be inferior to the one advertised. Some even claim to have seen a comparable necklace being sold at prices from $5-$27 on other websites. In addition, several consumers claim that the discount codes provided to them by Mirina Collections did not work. Consumers who attempted to reach the company to discuss the brand ambassador program or request a refund for the shipping fees reported great difficulty in getting responses.

As of June 12, 2017, 38 consumer complaints have been filed with BBB about Mirina Collections, 30 of which remain unanswered by the company. 

In March 2016, the first complaint was filed with BBB for Nora NYC, an online retailer of apparel and accessories. In this and subsequent complaints, consumers reported being contacted on Instagram by Nora NYC to become affiliates or brand ambassadors. In their complaints, consumers alleged that the company promised a number of perks for this affiliate relationship, among them free sunglasses, no-cost shipping, and discounted merchandise.

Some consumers noted in their complaints that they were told they must post pictures of themselves on social media and tag Nora NYC to ensure the affiliation and receive the promised rewards. Several consumers who purchased sunglasses and other items on the basis of these promises reportedly never received the merchandise ordered. A few customers who did receive the sunglasses reported that the product value was far less than they had been led to believe by Nora NYC. Consumers’ attempts to contact the company via email or Instagram were met with frustration, as emails to the company were allegedly ignored and social media posts were reportedly deleted. As of June 12, 2017, of the twelve complaints about Nora NYC filed by consumers with BBB, eleven remain unanswered.

BBB’s investigation into these companies found that both companies had, at one point, shared a mailing address. Mail sent by BBB to this address was returned as undeliverable. Our BBB searches could not locate active incorporation status for either business in New York or Delaware; website domain registration information for both businesses is registered as private; and, telephone numbers could not be identified by BBB for these online retailers.

In November 2016, Metro NY BBB received an email from press@mirinacolections.com saying that Mirina Collections had dissolved and was recently purchased. In reply, BBB requested evidence documenting the sale and dissolution of the business. The company did not respond to BBB’s follow-up communication and never provided any of the requested documentation regarding its identity or status. 

“Many people treat social media casually, but when it comes to endorsing a company’s products, you should be careful,” cautions Claire Rosenzweig, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York. “Your reputation may be on the line, so investigate a company that wants your endorsement.” 

 

BBB Serving Metropolitan New York warns consumers to use caution when engaging in business transactions with unknown individuals and companies.  In particular, consumers should be wary when encountering offers on social media channels.  The following tips can help consumers avoid problems:

  • Before engaging in business transactions, check bbb.org to review the company’s BBB Business Profile, if one has been established.  Look at the company’s complaint history and other types of consumer input available in the BBB Profile.
  • Review the website of the business. Look for contact names of individuals, mailing addresses, and phone numbers. Be very wary if the business website does not offer sufficient – or any – verifiable identity information about the company.
  • Ask friends whether they have had experience with the company in question, and explore blogs and discussion boards to see if others have posted negative or positive reviews. If you don’t find anything posted about a business, post a question asking whether others have had experiences with the company. 
  • High pressure is a big red flag. If you’re bombarded by solicitations and feel pressured after signing up to a website or following someone on social media, be very cautious. Don’t do something you’re not comfortable with and don’t give into pressure. 
  • Protect your friends and your good name: don’t become an ambassador for a company unless you have tried its products and services and you are happy with the results. Also, remember that government rules about testimonials and endorsements require that you openly disclose whether you received compensation of any kind (including a “gift”) in return for your testimonial, endorsement, customer review, etc.
  • Consumers can report a scam to BBB through the Scam TrackerSM online tool, file a complaint against a business, and see BBB Business Profiles here

 

About BBB Serving Metropolitan New York

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 170 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 106 regional, independent BBBs across North America, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation. The BBB Serving Metropolitan New York was founded in 1922. Please visit newyork.bbb.org or bbb.org for more information.

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