Double 11 was no more for me than a double disaster
It was 11:50 pm Friday, November 10, just 10 minutes before the start of Double 11 – China’s once-a-year online shopping extravaganza. My alarm clock beeped, waking me up for the forthcoming frenzy: “buy, buy, buy!”
I bounced out of bed, grabbed my mobile and opened Taobao’s app. The ticking of the clock and all the annoying ads on my phone increased my heartbeat and shortened my breath. At that exact same moment, tens of millions of other Chinese customers were also waiting for the biggest online sale of the year.
I personally hate this so-called “shopping festival.” Someone said that shopping can make a woman happy, but I’m the opposite. The reason is that the occasion is filled with so many tricks and deceptions, many ordinary people who participate to save money wind up spending more than they intended.
For the past week I have been consecutively bombarded with WeChat and Weibo ads such as, “Buy two get one free at my shop! Only on November 11!” or “Get a 35 percent discount off at our store! November 11 Only! Three days Countdown!”
Every single day leading up to the big event I also received at least 10 text messages from online retailers who “happened to” have my phone number. On November 10, just hours before the shopping festival started, I was blasted with 36 messages!
After being lured into installing and opening the Taobao app, I realized how I would suffer from its deceptive promotional tactics. For example, here was a pair of branded shoes I’d like to buy: the store claimed its original price was 999 yuan ($150.46), but the Double 11 price was only 399 yuan.
However, to get this discount, I had to complete a series of tasks: 1) share the link with five WeChat friends; 2) join the store’s “online customer group” and sign in for seven consecutive days; 3) pay a 50-yuan deposit before November 9; 4) pay the remaining 349 yuan on November 11 between 1-2 am.
The shopping platform also offered me a “spend 400 yuan to get a 50-yuan rebate” deal. The shoes I wanted to buy cost 399 yuan. Interesting. As a result, just to save 50 yuan I had to buy another item priced at least 1 yuan.
What’s worse, after a lot of effort to get these discounts, I found that many were fake. In 2016, I spent 300 yuan on a branded coat during the Double 11 sale; its original price was 808 yuan, but when I visited the physical store weeks later, I found the coat was only 308 yuan.
There has been plenty of media coverage about online retailers cheating shoppers on Double 11. In 2016, a woman surnamed Deng told Guangdong’s Foshan Daily that a canvas handbag she wanted cost 75 yuan one month before the sale. However, as Double 11 approached, she saw the same store running a deceptive ad claiming the bag’s “original price was 480 yuan; but only 75 yuan on November 11.”
After getting caught up in the occasion, this Saturday my Alipay (Taobao’s online payment system) account balance dropped from 7,000 yuan to 2,800 yuan. I have no idea how I spent so much money, but it goes to show that even the most aware shopper can lose control on Double 11. We are all vulnerable to their psychological tricks.
Statistics show that Alibaba’s Double 11 sales hit a record-breaking 168 billion yuan this weekend. China’s e-commerce growth in recent years has been amazing to watch, but now it is more necessary and urgent than ever to develop an honest, regulated and customerfriendly online trading community for China.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.