I was instantly captivated when I saw the adorable dog with folk art decoration holding a serving tray. Advertised online via Facebook, it was described as being made of metal (other times wood). The ad touted that it was an end table made in Bali.

Tell me what you think.

What do you think of this so-called end table? For whom do you think it might serve? Children? The vertically challenged? © Photo collection of Norine Dresser, 2021.

No wonder the sellers failed to list the dimensions. This was a bad joke on me. And I fault no one but myself for failing to be more discriminating when evaluating the product. I was so anxious to purchase it for my brand new screened in porch that common sense fled.

The ad also claimed that the tray could be used for serving a drink or displaying a house plant. No way! The tray is made of cardboard and any water on it would cause it to deteriorate.This was not the only instance I got taken by shady online advertisers. At about the same time, I ordered two other items featured on Facebook. I fell in love with some silly-looking colorful backyard chickens, supposedly made in Ireland. Additionally, I ordered some spectacular solar lights for the yard, made in Germany. Now these purchases were very convincing that they were legitimate. Both kept sending me fake (in retrospect) shipping updates, nineteen messages in total. First they claimed the products were in transit within their phony countries of origin. Then later, they claimed the products had reached customs, then cleared customs; next they arrived in the U.S. and cleared customs here to then inch towards my destination in Las Cruces, New Mexico. But they never arrived.

In desperation, I contacted the delivery company, shipping@24service.vip. And when I clicked on it, I was directed to a google link entitled, “Fraudulent email Pay Pal scams.” There I encountered complaints from other shopping victims lamenting the no-show status of beds, vacuum cleaner, mini-chainsaw, laptop, sandals, and a music box. Does misery love company? No. One victim wrote, “Once they get your money, they scam you.”

I wish I could tell you that these were the only phony ads I have fallen for. I saw a great deal on Clark’s sandals but totally forgot the wisdom, “If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t.” Sure enough, the shoes never arrived. Instead I received a crummy pair of sunglasses. You’d think I would have learned, but no. I excitedly purchased some Keen sandals in great tie-dye colors. Instead, it was not Keen but something equivalent to “Keenly.” When the shoes arrived they were only in black, yet I have been wearing them. They actually are the correct size.

I hope that by now, I have learned not to be an impulsive shopper. I rely on the internet for shopping because it has become difficult to do in person. I must now use a walker/rollator that I find difficult to load and unload from the trunk of my car. It’s so much easier to let my fingers do the walking.

I am so mad at myself for being such a foolish consumer. Do you know the feeling from also having fallen for an online scam? Are you willing to share your victimhood story? I hope so. But from here on, never forget the warning: Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware!

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who needs to be more cautious in future online shopping.