NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — You see the ads all over the internet touting adorable dresses and clothes at a fraction of what you’d pay in retail.
But, while the pictures may look amazing online, what actually arrives at your door could be a huge disappointment.
Dance teacher Joy Cutrone said when it comes to winning a competition, not only does the routine need to be perfect, but so do the costumes.
She was thrilled to find an embellished cocktail dress online for $100.
“This was supposed to be the secondary dress after the main entrance for one of my students,” she told CBS2’s Alice Gainer.
Her mood shifted when it arrived in the mail.
“This is not what we would order. The material on the bottom part is very cheap netting. It’s not fluffy like it’s supposed to. There are these large plastic shaped stones that are held on, some have fishing wire,” she said.
Candace Burch was even more disappointed when her dream wedding dress showed up looking nothing like the one advertised online.
“This is the type of beading that I was supposed to have on this dress,” she said, “This is what I got, cheap sequins.”
Fashion expert Jeanette Zinno said it’s a classic case of online bait and switch, and thousands of consumers are falling prey.
“The wrong size, the wrong color, botched beading, awful stitching, the sleeves are not the right size,” she explained.
And it’s not just formal dresses.
“When I opened it, this really rank smell came out of the bag,” Abby Misegades said.
Jackets, coats, and sweaters have been arriving too short an too tight — nothing like the pictures on sites like Rose Gal, Nasty Dress, and She-In where they were sold.
“You could get a discount at one store for 10 percent, but if it’s discounted at 50 percent that’s definitely a red flag,” Zinno said.
There are several things you can do to protect yourself; read customer reviews before ordering, know the return policy, and check for contact information like a physical address and phone number.
“Call and ask customer service a few questions, and if something is off, don’t buy from them,” she said.
Experts said the great looking photos of the clothes are often stolen from legitimate online retailers.