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