Beware of Buying Products From Facebook Ads

If you read Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, you know that its primary business model is to sell ads and it makes all of its revenue from this business practice. The crux of the article was trying to justify how it uses customers data and assuring that it only uses that data to make ads more personal. I won’t get into the other critical issues of data privacy, protecting customers data, etc. that are at the heart of the pushback by customers and the market regarding Facebook’s business practices at this time, but I do want to highlight what I consider another major issue that Facebook has not addressed and that is fraudulent ads.

It turns out that not all ads are equal on Facebook, and in some cases, especially ads from China, they are fake. I discovered this the hard way when I was “duped” into buying three products over the last five months in which the companies I purchased the products from took my money and ran.

The first product I bought where this happened was a CPAP cleaner. I had sleep apnea issues and was prescribed a CPAP machine to use at night to deal with this problem. If you use a CPAP machine, it needs to be cleaned and sanitized, and I saw an offer for a CPAP cleaner on Facebook that was 1/3rd of the price of the most popular brand on the market today. The ad itself was very professionally designed, and I did not even think of investigating where this product was coming from or anything about the company behind it directly. So I pulled out my credit card and bought it. Five months later I still have not received it. When I try and contact the company, they do not respond. Even worse is that they do not have a phone number or customer service number to call only what appears to be a bogus email address.

The second product I bought was a Christmas gift for a friend that was a folding workbench. I bought it in November with the promise it would get to me before Christmas. It is now almost February, and it still has not come. When it had not come by mid-December, I emailed them, and a Chinese person sent a form letter reply saying it will arrive before Christmas. It did not come before Christmas. I sent another email asking about it the week after Christmas and again got a form letter saying it was on its way. Then in January, I sent two more emails and this time they did not even respond. Of course, they had no phone number and only an email address to correspond with the company, but I am pretty sure they took my money and ran.

The two products I mentioned above were coming from Chinese companies and given that I have not received the product and they both have stopped responding to any emails asking about when I will get these products. I now have to conclude they were bogus.

The third product I bought from a Facebook Ad was a retractable ladder. I also purchased it before Christmas. One month later it still has not come. The receipt tells me little about the company although when you look up TimeForBuy who produced the ad, it says it is based in Moscow. There was an email tied to the receipt, and I have emailed them weekly and received no response at all.

The first thing I discovered when digging into this is that Facebook has no guarantee that a product will actually be legit or even delivered. When I reported this to Facebook their recommendation was to “report it to the local police.” Good luck with that. The second option is to find the original ad, and at the bottom of the product info, you tap on “seller info” section, and you will find a report button. You can report the seller, and Facebook says they will investigate it. But there were two problems with this. The first is that the first two ads I bought the product from were gone when I went back to find them. As for the third item, I did report this seller to Facebook and weeks later have not heard anything back from them. This link gives more information about how to report a seller, but it has a warning that if a “seller” blocks you, which has happened,, it gives you this link to follow. But this one takes you down a rabbit hole. Let’s say that I pretty much have given up on ever getting these products and I am now out a couple of hundred bucks.

I have heard of others who have bought products via Facebook ads and have never received the product they purchased. You can find other examples on message boards too. The fact is that Facebook is just an ad supplier and takes no responsibility for any purchase you make from their ads. Not sure people understand that if you buy something from a Facebook add, it has not been vetted and even worse, is not backed by Facebook, so you have little to no recourse if you never receive the product you bought.

if you are tempted to buy a product from a Facebook ad, remember this caveat- Buyer Beware.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

25 thoughts on “Beware of Buying Products From Facebook Ads”

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  3. Have you considered working with an investigative reports team, perhaps 60 minutes, to do a series on Facebook (FB) ads?

    Your experience with outright scams is common in my small circle of friends. Yet last month, my husband still fell prey and ordered a bench top Anvil featured in a lengthy FB ad. Even when our credit card company flagged the purchase for a secondary authorization, he assured me it was legitimate. We’ll see.

    Two years ago I ordered three Roomba type vacuums as Christmas presents, after repeatedly watching a slick FB ad video touting how two former I-Robot engineers who helped develop the technology became disenchanted with the company’s exorbitant mark up.

    The video showed production, assembly and use of a device that was a match to one I owned. I bought 3 for the price of one standard Roomba. The products arrived, but were Not what was on the video. They were small flimsy toy versions. A perfect play house toy, but definitely not what was in the video. And not at the price I paid.

    I recently fell prey to another bait and switch FB ad, selling reasonably priced kinetic garden art birds. The majestic eagle and fierce owl I ordered turned out to be small, poorly cut and painted, flimsy thin metal. There weren’t even any instructions and I couldn’t get them to work.

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