The Problem with Cheap Stuff (Spoiler: It’s Crap)

The Atlantic recently took a closer look at, a Chinese marketplace that allows consumers to buy “deeply discounted goods… directly from sellers or manufactures there,” quality and regulations be damned.

Worth as much as J.C. Penney, Sears and Macy’s combined ($8.5 billion), “Wish is emblematic of a growing trend in e-commerce: shoppers buying directly from Chinese manufacturers and merchants,” a practice that has “exploded in recent years.”

“The U.S. Postal Service delivered 175 million letters and packages from overseas in the first three months of 2018,” the story found, “up from 97 million in the same period in 2013.”

But while sites like Wish do save brave customers an insane amount of money — jeans can cost $6, camera drones are priced at $29, things like that — they also present a unique set of problems.

For starters, virtually none of these manufacturers are required to collect sales taxes as third-party sellers, and even if they were, “it will be more difficult to enforce the law against companies based in China than those with a U.S. presence,” creating an objectively one-sided relationship.

Price-wise, the goods available are made for far cheaper than a U.S. manufacturer could ever afford to compete with, further marginalizing our domestic industry and presenting “a significant challenge to U.S. importers and manufacturers.”

And then there are the quality concerns. “The 512 customer reviews of Wish on are mostly negative, with one-star reviews and… stories of the site sending rings that turn fingers green, products paid for and never received, and requests for returns and refunds ignored.”

But hey, if you want an $18 smartwatch that works like a $4 smartwatch, you do you. Just remember, “at the end of the day… you still get what you pay for.”

You can read more about it at The Atlantic.

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