Help! I’m about to flip my wig. Where is my refund?

Not all internet retailers are created equal. Hazel Wentt learned that important lesson when she recently purchased a wig from an online company called Aliexpress.

Wentt’s story is a cautionary tale about making sure that you know who and what you are patronizing when using an online company. Otherwise, if something should go wrong, the road to a resolution could be quite rough.

Wentt contacted us because she had ordered the hairpiece from a company that she thought was called DreamWorks through the website Aliexpress. She received a wig, but it was not the right color and she wanted to exchange it.

This is where her story gets hairy.

I could not use it because their ad stated that it was not possible to dye it. I requested a refund and Lychee M agreed to a full refund of $175.10 plus the return postage of $22.75 and I would now like to be paid the interest that is now accumulating on my credit card. After I returned it I never heard from Lychee M again even after I wrote him several times. He just ignores my email.

I tried reaching out to the customer service department. I chatted with Ethyl, then with Jinky, in an effort to resolve this dispute — all to no avail. Finally on July 19, Ferdie promised that I would hear from Aliexpress within 10 days. It is now almost three months and I have not heard from anyone. Eighteen days ago I chatted with Steph. She asked me to trust her and I would hear from her in 10 days. Well I did and am again disappointed.

Wentt further explained to us that she was told to ship the wig to a man in China called ‘Mr. Bin T.’ of Top Beauty Wig. After he received the wig, she would be issued her refund. So, Wentt spent an additional $22 and shipped the wig to Mr T. in Qingdao, China.

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What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, quite a lot.

Mr. T never responded or acknowledged receipt of the return. So now Wentt had lost almost $200 and the wig.

I have to admit that when I first read Wentt’s sequence of events I had to reread it several times in an attempt to figure out who sold her this wig. There were no less than three companies involved, and also various “first name only” customer service representatives. But, It seemed that the point of entry to her case was Aliexpress.

So that is where we started.

What is Aliexpress? It appears that this company is part of a new wave of online retailers that are considered “wholesaling platforms.” These websites are essentially online warehouses for various sellers. The sellers are usually vetted solely through reviews from other customers on the website. It is imperative to read the reviews of the individual sellers before initiating a purchase.

Interestingly, when I clicked on the terms of use of Aliexpress, I was introduced to yet another company in Wentt’s case, Alibaba. This seems to be the parent company of Aliexpress. These terms explain that they are a “web-based platform for exchanging information” and that they connect consumers and sellers. But they specifically state that they “do not represent the buyer or seller.”

Uh-oh. That doesn’t sound very consumer-friendly.

Additionally, it is explained that there are “transaction risks” and that the user of the website agrees that these transactions are “governed by the laws of China.”

I began to see Wentt’s chances for a refund quickly dissolving.

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But we weren’t willing to give up just yet. So I signed into my newly minted account with Aliexpress, and I was connected to Ricelle. After I explained Wentt’s situation she told me that there was no record of a complaint from Wentt. I told her that I had seen the chat transcript in which ‘Jinky’ and others had told Wentt that she would receive a refund — as soon as Mr. T received the wig in China. At this point Ricelle promised me that within 24 hours we would receive an email addressing this complaint. Ricelle then told me that she wanted to do her job “honestly.”

Ok, that sounds promising.

I thanked her, and then waited the 24 hours and looked to our email for Wentt’s answer from Aliexpress.

It never came.

We had one last suggestion for Wentt: a credit card chargeback. Chargebacks should be the last option in consumer/company disputes. In this situation, Wentt had been very patient and had given this company more than ample time to straighten out her problem. Unfortunately, that patience cost her the ability to do a chargeback since her credit card company, as most do, required the chargeback to be initiated within three months of the purchase. By the time Wentt had contacted us, it had already been eight months since this wig debacle began.

And so we were, regretfully, out of options.

Although, we could not dig through all the layers of this company and get Wentt a refund, we do hope that her story will serve as a reminder that when dealing with a faceless retailer, do your research before you hand over your money. Make sure that the website has a good track record and read the reviews of the individual sellers. If it is an unfamiliar website, make sure to read their terms of usage. Lastly, if you cannot settle the dispute on your own, contact your credit card company and initiate a chargeback within the allowable time frame; this will force the company to respond.

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Online shopping can be fun. It can give us access to products that are not easily available in our local communities — but make sure to do your homework. Otherwise you may find yourself without your money and without your merchandise. And that’s not fun at all.

Who is responsible for Hazel Wentt's wig fiasco?

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Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, consumer advocate, writer and photographer who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. She is Advocacy & Editorial Director at

  • sirwired

    Yeah, it’s pretty common for overseas sellers to play tricks like taking so long to ship an item, that by the time it arrives, you are outside the window to do anything about it. And certainly by the time that round-trip takes place, the dispute window with the middlemen has past. And then there’s the trick of cheap items being essentially non-returnable, because return shipping costs more than the product.

    Really, so many of the Direct-from-China sellers are so terrible, that unless a bunch of other people had had a happy experience with them, just pay the extra money and order the same thing from a domestic seller.

    Barring that, at least use a US-based platform (like Amazon) for the purchase, rather than an overseas platform that can safely ignore you.

  • AJPeabody

    China on line is still the Wild West. As Aliexpress states you are on your own, missing the credit card charge back deadline is unfortunately the OP’s fault. It was the only recourse she had and she missed it by 5 months.

  • Bill___A

    A lot of things are shipped by mail from China, even from Amazon as they also have third party sellers.

    The few issues I have had were quickly taken care of, so I am disappointed to see problems in this case. The items I purchased were relatively low value in comparison.

  • MarkKelling

    Most credit card companies will do a chargeback, or other adjustment type, up to 6 months even though that is beyond the official window. You just have to ask. If you are a good enough customer, they will work with you.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I feel very bad for Ms Wendt – she got stiffed but good.

    I agree with the others who commented that her best recourse was to use a credit card charge-back. This was a pretty cut-and-dried case: wrong product delivered, product returned as per the specific instructions of the seller, no refund received. Perfect case for a credit card charge-back…no ambiguity.

    Her mistake was in waiting too long.

    I won’t buy anything from a Chinese web site. I have purchased things that came from China, but only through Amazon, which in my experience has a very customer-friendly return policy and practice.

    Hard (and expensive!) lesson to learn.

  • finance_tony

    Raw deal.

    But throwing in the part about having the seller pay “interest that is now accumulating on my credit card” – besides the fact that it’s never going to happen – cast doubt on the story. If interest is accumulating on the purchase, that means the customer didn’t have the ability to pay for the transaction to begin with: nobody is going allow the card to accumulate 25% interest on principle.

    That *hints* to me that the customer might be shipping the wig back for something other than it being the “wrong color.”

    At the very least, I’d leave the part about accumulating interest out of the story so as not to cast doubt on the other facts.

  • Rebecca

    Alibaba is the Chinese bootleg version of Amazon. China has a bootleg version of everything. Not saying it’s evil and bad, just saying to stick with Amazon.

  • Annie M

    The first thing I thought of was why she didn’t do a credit card dispute.

  • PsyGuy

    She got ripped off how could she possibly be responsible. The only advice I’d have is that any dispute going past 30 days then gets disputed with the bank card.

  • PsyGuy

    Agree those are all tricks to get your money

  • PsyGuy

    i’ve made purchases from Alibaba, they have a small footprint here. It’s only been a couple times and I don’t have any complaints.

  • michael anthony

    Alibaba is one if the richest companies in China, often called the “Amazon” of China. It also has significant holdings in the US. Considering that, I would assume the parent company has US based offices. With this fiasco, I would have reached out to them with my complaint based they have big plans for growth. The parent company might have been more receptive??

  • LDVinVA

    “I could not use it because their ad stated it was not possible to dye it”. Seems to me this should have kept her from ordering it in the first place!

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