She missed the prom — and her Promlily refund

She missed the prom. Now where's her Promlily refund?

Ben Brian says his daughter missed the prom because of a company called Promlilly. It sent her an unattractive and damaged prom dress that looked nothing like the photo on its website.

He wants to send this monstrosity back and get a refund. But there’s a big problem — who, and where, is Promlily?

This case should serve as a warning for all consumers looking for great bargains on the internet. Almost anyone can hang a virtual retail shingle on the world wide web. So proceed with caution. Most of these sites have no customer service included and may be located in far-off lands not governed by U.S. law. And you may find yourself with a subpar product with no possibility of return or exchange.

She missed the prom because of a discolored dress?

Brian says that his daughter found a lovely burgundy dress on the Promlily website. As she excitedly planned for the prom, she eagerly waited for the delivery of her gown. One month later, all her hopes were dashed when the “envelope” with her dress showed up.

Unfortunately, what arrived deviated significantly from the website’s photos. And his daughter was “devastated.”

“The dress arrived via DHL with no padding,” Brian recalls. “The color was candy-apple red, and the lacing was coming off as it had been glued on. She was devastated by the entire look and decided not to go to the prom.”

Wait. What? His daughter missed the prom because of the color of the dress?

This is the part of Brian’s story that scored low on my credulity scale. As a mom of a 16-year-old daughter currently planning for the prom, I know that a discolored dress or flimsy beading would never be a roadblock to the dance.

I knew there was more to that story.

Bad tactics asking for a Promlily refund

Brian immediately sent a request for a refund to Promlily through its website. And then he discovered the reality of dealing with virtual companies of unknown origin: Customer service is nonexistent.

Please advise on the status of this return. We have heard nothing and will start the Better Business Bureau complaints and reach out to the local consumer watchdog agencies unless we hear something tomorrow.

Unfortunately, when dealing with a company across the world (in this case Malaysia), it likely won’t be concerned about your BBB threat. And Promlily wasn’t. So Brian turned to our advocacy team.

Initially, not knowing anything about Promlily, I pointed out that this type of threatening tactic probably wouldn’t lead to a positive resolution. Elliott Advocacy recommends a polite and non-accusatory approach in your communication with a company. Remember that you are trying to make the representative want to help you.

I always refer our readers to Christopher’s article about fixing your own consumer problems. In most situations, the advice can work wonders with your self-advocacy attempts. Unfortunately, though, not with Promlily.

Brian got nowhere with Promlily — no matter what tactic he tried. So I decided to give it a try.

And then I hit a brick wall.

Typically, I can find an executive contact for most companies that we encounter. But for Promlily, I was coming up empty.

Elliott Advocacy research department

You may not know this, but our research director, John Galbraith, will be your best friend if you need to find a company’s executive contact. Our advocacy team relies on his research team’s expertise at finding company contacts — especially the ones that some businesses want hidden. (If you need a hard-to-find company contact, you can contact our research team here.)

In fact, John recently was able to turn a Case Dismissed into a Problem Solved after he found a valid contact at Royal Air Maroc for me. After multiple attempts to reach someone in authority at the airline, he located a working executive email address. And yesterday this case that Christopher detailed suddenly turned into a success story, with Royal Air Maroc ultimately offering a goodwill refund of $800 to Karen Malikian.

So I asked John if he could find me a person who I could contact at Promlily. He searched and searched, and he also came up empty-handed. I knew the situation was dire. This company is quite expert at hiding who is responsible for its operation.

Unfortunately, what he did find are many negative reviews about Promlily.

Contacting customer service

With no other option available, I contacted Promlily’s “customer service.”

Surprisingly, the next day I received a cheerful reply from “Alice” at Promlily. She asked to see photos of the dress, which I promptly sent. And then she offered me a 10 percent refund. I reiterated that the dress was damaged and that the recipient wanted a full refund. She then offered a 15 percent refund.

I asked “no-last-name” Alice to speak to her supervisor. She told me that her supervisor told her to tell me that’s the final offer.

And so my negotiations with Promlily were done.

Can the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) help?

Getting nowhere with Alice, Brian and I moved on to the last step to a resolution that a consumer should take — the credit card chargeback.

A credit card chargeback can be a powerful tool for all consumers who use it correctly. But it should only be initiated once a consumer has exhausted all other steps to a resolution. In fact, the Royal Air Maroc problem mentioned above was caused by the consumer’s misuse and misunderstanding of the chargeback process. So it’s important only to deploy this tactic as a last resort.

The FCBA protects consumers against a variety of billing errors — including products that aren’t delivered as promised. Like a damaged dress.

Brian has now filed a credit card chargeback. He will likely prevail since he has evidence that the dress is damaged and it was not delivered as promised. He says he will happily send the dress back to where ever it came from. If only he knew where it came from.

Brian’s daughter missed the prom. But to say she missed it because of this dress is not entirely accurate. There were a variety of reasons for the missed dance — this particular dress just compounded the problem.

“She missed the prom — there were multiple issues with her date,” Brian explained. “But she would have gone with friends had the dress worked out.”

Have you ever had a bad experience ordering from an obscure website?

Share this story
Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Enterprise Holdings

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.