Spending habits, the Anthroholic scandal and my thoughts.

*Please note the following is my own opinion on the topic as someone who’s following along, not as someone that’s been affected.

Have you guys been following along with the Anthroholic scandal? If you haven’t, start here, then read this, this, this, this, and the three posts here . (Read the comments too, if you have time.)

Basically, the gist of the story is that the blogger Anthroholic started up a personal shopping business, where, for a fee, you could “order” something from a store that you can’t get near you, and she’s purchase it with your money, and mail it to you, which, if you live in Canada, can be a great deal. So you paid, up front, for this item that you really wanted. Sounds great, right? Well, it turns out that it really wasn’t so peachy keen. Now it’s coming out that the majority of her “clients” never received their items, when they inquired as to where their purchases were, they were given a myriad of answers from “oh, you didn’t get my email?” to “Anthropologie sent me the wrong size, I have to return it for you.” And it seems like lost emails and wrong sizes were constantly being sent, in an alarming fashion. So alarmingly much, that one person had her IT department at work make sure her email was working properly (it was). Now, 600+ comments in on some of those blog posts I link to above, it seems like this happened to hundreds of people, and many of them paid upwards of $300 for items they never received.

Let’s do the math and say that there were 100 people who “purchased” items they never received, and each sent about $350 (there were rumors of one person sending $800!). That’s at least $35,000 unaccounted for. 

Now, nothing happened to me personally, but it upsets me to no end. And I’m also not part of that Anthro-blogger group, but I do have a group of bloggers I consider my friends. How would feel if one of them did this? Well, I’d be pissed. I’m all for people living their dreams, or doing something to make money, but when you go to this extreme, and regardless of what was happening in her personal life, something is wrong. I’m sure her clients would’ve rather had her say “sorry, I’m a little overwhelmed. I’ll let you know when I can shop for you,” instead of continuing to accept their money, and not fulfill their orders.

I feel like Anthroholic’s general idea was really brilliant. Shop for those that can’t get there, charge them a small fee for your trouble and ship their items. It seems like it would work out really well, but that’s where it went wrong. Rather than fulfill what her original idea was, for whatever reason Anthroholic wasn’t able to fulfill these orders, for months. Who knows if she really was overwhelmed, or if she was taking the money. We all assume what we believe is true, but only Kim knows for sure. Perhaps it was her personal life, her alleged crippling debt, or maybe just the draw of seeing such a large amount of money in her paypal account let her down a road that most people wouldn’t step foot on. But whatever it was, now she’s going to have to pay. There are talks on some of the linked posts above of police action, IRS involvement, or even FBI involvement, because if she did embezzle the money, it’s fraud. And because some of the clients were from Canada, that adds international charges to this whole mess.

Because of all this, a discussion between me, Jenni, Sarah and Kimmie started last night on twitter. We talked about credit cards, savings and debt. I made the comment that Joe and I don’t use credit cards, we’re cash only (we include our debit card with cash, since it’s taken out of the account right away). And for us, it works. Sure, I love shopping and love getting new clothes as much as anyone else. And while I do own a few things from pricier stores like Anthropologie, they’ve been purchased with money I had, and always on sale. I may love a skirt from Anthropologie, but I don’t love it $168 worth.

Another thing Joe and I do really well is communicate about certain purchases. No, we don’t tell each other every time we’re headed to Starbucks, but we often remind each other that we have a coffee maker, and that we’d rather make something at home, save the extra money and go to a movie or something. We also have one debit card between the two of us. Yes, ONE debit card. We share it. If I need gas today, I take it and get gas. If Joe needs gas, he takes it to go get gas. We’ve never been questioned as to why the name doesn’t match the person using it (which does freak me out sometimes), but it makes it easier to make sure we’re aware of what we’re spending.

Thankfully, I’ve never been in a place where I’ve had debt. My parents sacrificed a lot to help me pay for college. I’ve had at least one job (sometimes two!) since I was 14. I loved saving money. Watching that number grow on my bank account was something that become an obsession when I was in high school. That’s why my obsession for all things thrifted began. I would rather spend $5 on a skirt that looks exactly the same as a $60 J Crew skirt. When I was 16, I had the opportunity to spend most of my hard-earned money on a trip to Europe for the summer with classmates. So I did. The money I spent the last two years earning became one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. Because I was going on this trip, without my family, my parents helped me apply for a credit card with a $1,000 limit. I used that card on the trip and continued to use it once I returned, paying off everything I purchased every month, in full.

My parents taught me how to be fiscally responsible, and sometimes when I wish I could buy a $300 coat, I remind myself that it’s the same price as my car payment, and I’d rather have a car to drive.

Now, Joe and I only owe money to my parents (my dad fronted Joe money to go back to school). We have no student loans, no credit card debt, and basically live debt free. We use cash or our debt card for all purchases, and we’re thankful for the place we’re in. I’ve never had to deal with over-spending, I’ve never had to talk to debt collectors, and while my heart may hurt when I have to drop $375 on bills like I did yesterday, the fact that I have the money to pay for those bills is better than anything I could ever purchase in a store.

Now, I’m not saying that spending issues are what drove Anthroholic to her despicable deed of alleged thievery, but it seems like there is something going on. I’ve had my fair share of personal and family issues over the past year, and while I probably handled things differently, it isn’t an excuse. If you’re a nurse, and you stop taking care of your patients, but yet still get paid, that’s wrong. (Ok, maybe not the best example, but you get what I’m saying).

It’s just another (sad) lesson that you can’t always trust everyone you “meet” online. We really don’t know these other bloggers we communicate with, and I think this situation is going to make a lot more people skeptical. I’m hopeful that everyone that was swindled out of money during this scam is able to get refunded. And perhaps Anthroholic will get to the root of her issue before she finds herself in a deeper hole.

If you’re having issues with money or debt, or have a problem with shopping contact Debtors Anonymous or  Shopaholics Anonymous (248) 358-8508.

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29 thoughts on “Spending habits, the Anthroholic scandal and my thoughts.

  1. I belatedly read all this scandal last night and am very saddened/upset by it.

    Thanks for sharing how you tackle your finances (I think it’s always nice to get a peak into someone else’s financial life since it can be such a taboo topic!). I also do not use a credit card—-which perhaps I need to remedy to build up credit, but I SO prefer always knowing I’m paying with money I HAVE, not money I hope to have someday. I’m also debt-free and have never purchased an Anthro item full-price. I DO own quite a few Anthro/JCrew items, and sometimes I’m uncomfortable with how much I’ve spent on them. However, I know my budget. I know that, for me, dipping below a certain number in my checking/savings accounts is unacceptable. I still feel like I’m getting a handle on saving (or, at least, saving for retirement) in my 2nd year out o’ school, but going into debt over clothes is never, ever going to be an option. And, I must admit, it’s a little hard for me to understand doing so. I think the bloggers I relate best to are certainly those who share a bit about their purchasing decisions and budgets…because the idea that a full-on Anthro wardrobe comes with zero consequences (or at least very different priorities) does not compute.

    • I too like to see into the lives of other bloggers financials. Because I know mine, it’s nice to know that others use similar “only buy what you can afford” mindsets. I am also drawn to other bloggers that have similar budgets as mine, and while some may own more expensive pieces, I also love to see women re-wearing the same pieces over and over, because it’s more realistic than wearing new items everyday.

      • Agreed :) And that’s a good point—I think “cost per wear” is definitely an important concept (yay for remixing!).

  2. Wow I never heard of this until reading your post. That is crazy and it sucks because it casts a dark shadow over anyone else who has or plans to run some type of business through her blog.

    I’m also all about being smart with money. I’ve been on both sides of the coin – growing up where money wasn’t an issue to working at 16 so my family had food to eat. That tough lesson taught me the importance of spending and saving and for good or bad, a lot of people in America are learning the hard way. I’m blessed to be a good financial place now that I’m older but that’s just gives me even more reason to put my money away than to spend it whenever I felt like it. I’ve gotten on the thrifting train and think twice about what types of clothes I spend my money on. I’ve been in that place where I was literally scraping pennies and I prefer to live without the latest pair of shoes than go back there again.

    Awesome post and thanks for sharing your story!

    • Agreed. Now if anyone tries to create a similar business, everyone is going to be very weary of them, unless they create a contract like suggested below.

      And you’re welcome! I think the budget/.finance discussion is important to have, especially if I’m a “style” blogger. I think I owe it to anyone that reads my blog to know that I’m not in debt over the things they see on here, and know that it is possible to have clothing you like and want, but still able to pay your bills.

  3. After hearing all of this, it makes me feel like if bloggers are going to offer these personal shopping services (and many do), they should start having contracts. Whether this blogger’s intention was to shop for others or not, I think a contract would’ve been useful.

    I’ve purchased goods from people online using just paypal and it is an act of trust. You hope the person is not lying. If you suspect they are, why not ask to draw up a contract? Why be okay with gifting a paypal payment?

    We all need to be a bit more weary of online services provided by people. It is not like going to Amazon or eBay so we need to protect ourselves from any wrong doing.

    Like I said! Contracts!

    • Agreed- and I bet people will start doing it in the future, because this seems to have EVERYONE in a tizzy, even if they weren’t scammed!

  4. What a mess, right? I’m with you…I feel bad for those people who can’t seem to get themselves out of debt, applaud those who have made changes and taken strides to better their situation, and do all that I can to avoid it. It definitely strikes a chord that it was a fellow blogger (though not one that I know or read) that could do this to people. I really hope people can get their money back.

  5. I’ve posted only in comments of other blogs and haven’t yet wrote anything on my own blog. But me and Kim have passed emails before and she even ran a giveaway for me so I’ve had some personal interactions with her. My husband and I run our own photography business and last week we were in Chicago and thought we’d meet up with her to do a photoshoot with her. We then asked Kim to post our photos on her blog and she said she was totally cool with that. We met up last week (on Labor Day) and we spent two hours taking photos. When we returned to Seattle, we edited those right away while this whole debacle was going on. I hadn’t paid attention since I also work full time and just don’t have a lot of free time with the business to read blogs on a daily basis. But when I sent her my 80 full professional edited photos, she emails me to tell me that she’s not posting them because she turned her blog off. She asked me to forgive her and also send her the rest of her photos. I felt a little cheated and scammed in the same fashion her other victims were. I felt like she could have told me beforehand. And if she’s unable to post them, offer to give the photos back. My services were taken for granted and I feel just as used as her other poor victims. I just thought I’d put this out there since we’re on this topic. Thank you for writing this article!

    • I have seen a similar response like this that you’ve posted on some other sites, and my advice to you is to contact Kim directly.
      If you did a shoot with her, and gave her the photos (for free), you have no legal ground to stand on. Unless you have a contract that says that she’ll post them, I think you’re screwed.
      And do you really want to her to promote photos that you took of her? If I were you, I’d remove them from your site. I’d hate to have people associate your business with someone like her. Just my two cents.

  6. Wow. This really makes me sad. Obviously, I am sad for all the people who’ve had their money stolen, but I am also sad about the effect this may have on our little blogging community. It only takes one person to do something like this, and the blogosphere is all abuzz with distrust. I just started my own little blog shop. I got my very first order this week and I was so excited! I shipped the order out the very next day. I would hate to have someone distrust me because of a perception that bloggers are money-hungry and dishonest.

    Anyway, I really admire what you and Joe are doing. Wow. The hubby and I could really learn a lesson from you. LOL! Over the next year, i am making a commitment to myself to really commit to changing my spending habits so we can buy a house. I will admit that I am the big spender in this relationship. You’ve provided some great inspiration here, and some great tips… so thank you!

    • Good for you! It really helps to be open and honest with your partner. Joe and I share a bank account and whatever money we make is ours. We have specific expenses every month like car payments, insurance, rent, medication, etc. We really try to make sure that we’re both aware of what expenses we have have coming up and we save up for hints we need. For example, we needed a new mattress (Joe has a bad back), so we found the one we wanted and saved until we could afford it. Budgets are your best friend, as are coupons!! Good luck to you, I bet you’ll do a great job.

    • That was my immediate reaction. It’s funny, because after talking to Liz (twosixandcounting.blogspot.com) I realized if I had been one of those scammed, I would’ve have kept my mouth shut. If someone did that to me, EVERYONE would know about it, because my personality is to talk up about shit like this (as you can see from this post, ha).
      I’m amazed that all these people didn’t say anything for so long, but it seems like they trusted the persona that Anthroholic was pushing forward, and trusted they’d get their items.

      • I was scammed by Anthroholic and didn’t speak up for a couple of reasons:
        1) It was a small amount of money ($40)
        2) She did ultimately refund me (although after weeks of runaround and after I filed a Paypal dispute)
        Most importantly:

        3) I didn’t have a platform to be heard. Kim deleted all negative comments, and without the knowledge that this was happening to other women, I didn’t feel comfortable complaining to another blogger, especially given how many of them were friends with Kim.

        Instead, I commented to my husband how surprised I was that someone like
        her with a blog ‘brand’/reputation to protect would act so irresponsibly (I had a feeling she was lying to me, but no proof, so I chalked it up to flakiness or negligence) and left it at that.

        If it was more money or hadn’t been refunded, I would have made a bigger stink. I just had no clue it was happening to so many people. What amazes me is how long some people let it go on: 8 months, a year! After five weeks, I had a refund.

  7. I was one of the scammed women who lives in Canada. I’ve been “friends” with Kim for over 2 years now, emailing each other almost daily for the past year. I stumbled across your take on the situation and it was so nice to read someone’s perspective who is not part of that anthro-blogger group that I have been part of for awhile now. I’ve been wondering what others’ perspectives would be on this situation, so thanks for sharing yours. I do think this has changed me and has made me a lot less trusting. Hopefully I can find a good balance, but right now I’m so shaken up by this that I’m not even sure what to do.

    • I’m so sorry that this happened to you. Honestly, I’m not surprised that someone tried it (yes, I’m very cynical!), but that doesn’t make it any less shocking.
      I’m glad you like my post. Because I wasn’t personally affected, I wasn’t sure if my opinion would be well perceived or not. I certainly hope you, and everyone else involved, gets a full refund. I can’t imagine the anger and hurt you must be feeling, caused by someone you know.
      I do think this whole scandal has created a ripple effect, and everyone is going to be really cautious from now on.

  8. I have done personal shopping for international clients in the past, and continue to do so , and this whole mess is obviously going to impact that. Contracts are typical in the service industry (and rightly so!) as they protect both parties. I do think Kim offered a terms of service, and she just blatantly violated it – the people who she took advantage of were just kind enough to give her the benefit of the doubt for too long.

  9. Great post, suze!

    It’s so easy to be drawn into obsessive shopping habits and bad money management when you follow a lot of blogs that are always throwing links to pretty clothes at you. I know that for me, a set budget helps me see where the money is going and I can evaluate my purchases with a more careful eye.

    For your one debit card thing, you should be able to add a second user to the card, so that you can each have one. Not sure that’s what you want, but it would help if someone was to check ID. :)

  10. I did once have quite a bit of consumer debt. (I was in my early 20’s and it was $14k.) I grew up with less money than all of my friends’ families and while I was very responsible with money until 21, I think something just exploded at that point. I had to go through the $250 sundress phase, the rip-the-tags-off-once-home-so-you-can’t-return phase, the what’s-expensive-stuff-feel-like phase…to realize I didn’t really care. Finding a balance between what I wanted and what I might be able to afford while meeting other goals was really key. Not low-balling my clothing budget but not letting myself get away with murder either.

    I have an $80/month budget and posted about what that is the “middle ground” for me here:

    http://jesseanneo.blogspot.com/2011/02/my-80-february-where-should-i-buy-my.html

    I think I also just need to admit that I’m one of those people who needs the structure of budgets and also I need to work within my known psychological reactions (e.g. if I budget a very small amount, I know I’ll blow it and then all bets are off and I’ll spend more than if I budgeted a higher amount):

    http://jesseanneo.blogspot.com/2010/08/i-am-not-to-be-trusted.html

    Thanks for writing about things like this. It’s good to read!

  11. So much to say… So like always I will list it out! *Chuckle* One, as on-line seller their is a reason that we charge such high international shipping rates. It is to protect both you the consumer and us the seller. The only traceable USPS shipping method to Canad cost $26.95.

    Two, If you want to run a business on your blog treat it like a business. As a retailer I would never think of asking a customer to send my a payment as a gift to avoid getting charged fees. I am running a business and fees are part of it. Also those fees keep me protected from fraudulent charges. And give the buyer protection too. The thing I have noticed with sponsoring blogs is, that is very common for a blogger to ask me to send their payment as a gift. I am now feeling if someone has a blog and wants advertiser they should treat it like a businesses fees and all.

    All that said, Never ever send money for a product as a paypal gift. You will lose all your protection as a buyer!!!

  12. Doesn’t she have an ebay site that is up and running?? anthro_holic Feedback 141
    The seller is based out of Chicago, IL. Currently up for sale is last years Sleeping in the Snow’s Handpainted Poppy Sweater, marked up almost $300 OVER retail!!!! Interesting that she is still conducting business….

    • I don’t know if that’s her ebay account…I do know her ebay account WAS berlyb33, but if you search for that, it’s now kayl1980. So she recently changed it and intends to still conduct business on ebay.

  13. My hubbie keeps me on a very tight budget, but I try to make it work! Sometimes I resent having to be so strict with money, but I know one day it will be worth it!

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  17. I have read about this scandal. For me personally, giving someone I do not know money to purchase items in another area is something I would never do. When you order from a company like Jcrew, you have their name and decent reputation. You also have recourse to get your money back if something goes wrong with the order. You know their website won’t disappear overnight and that you can reach a customer service rep by their phone number.

    I would never ever intimate that someone deserves to be cheated, but I do think this a great example of being careful on the internet. In addition, I don’t think one person managing a personal shopping business for several customers is necessarily a good idea. What are her business credentials, if any? Being a good shopper, does not equal running a business. Also, it brings up insurance issues (if packages are really lost in the mail) or what happens if an item is shipped and it’s damaged? This just sounds like a horrible idea to me.

    I hope that people realize that just because you read a blog does not mean that you know the person or their character. Did she get over her head? Maybe. But it became criminally when she kept accepting money and lying about communication.

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