Is Wish Legit? Why the Cheap Shopping App Gets Bad Reviews

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If you are active on social media, you may have come across the popular Wish memes. They typically involve a picture of the “Wish version” compared to the original, referring to celebrities, clothing, menu items, or products purchased online.

The “wish version” is a similar item, but of poorer quality and less attractive, usually a far cry from the original.

Wish, the popular shopping platform is often promoted through online ads with millions of items ranging from home goods to clothes to beauty supplies. It’s notorious for its low prices and often makes people skeptical and wondering – is Wish legit?

Pig body pillow sold on the American online e-commerce platform WishPig body pillow sold on the American online e-commerce platform Wish

We’ve looked at their business history, customer reviews, and policies to determine the trustworthiness of the shopping platform.

The Business Behind the Website

Wish was founded by former Google engineer Piotr Szulczewski in 2010. In its first year, it was known as ContextLogic. To get started, Szulczewski received a $1.7 million investment from Jeremy Stoppelman, the Yelp CEO.

After Szulczewski’s friend Danny Zhang joined the organization in May 2011, it was relaunched as Wish. At this time, it was an app-based wish-list maker where users could add items they wanted to their “wish list,” and the app would then match them with the appropriate merchant.

Wish is a mobile shopping app that connects shoppers directly to over 100 million manufacturersWish is a mobile shopping app that connects shoppers directly to over 100 million manufacturers

The early days were like many other Silicon Valley tech start-ups, acquiring funding and guidance, evolving each year. After hooking up with Hans Tung, another major tech investor, it transitioned into an eCommerce website with items sold directly on the website.

The website has continued to see significant growth ever since. In 2018 it was the world’s most-downloaded shopping app, and in 2019 it was the third biggest eCommerce marketplace in the US. Wish continues to acquire major funding, and in August of 2019, its assets reached a whopping $11.2 billion!

How Wish Works

Many people believe Wish is one store and they sell all their Wish products. This is a common misconception that leads to a confusing reputation. You can think of Wish like Amazon, Alibaba, or eBay. It is a shopping platform that has over 1 million different merchants selling their products to Wish users.

With so many retailers selling on the platform, it isn’t easy for Wish to ensure the quality of products and customer service. When someone gets a poor-quality item, they said they got it on Wish instead of specifying the merchant.

This cat grooming bath bag sold on Wish is meant for bathing and grooming catsThis cat grooming bath bag sold on Wish is meant for bathing and grooming cats

Unhappy customers also leave negative reviews for Wish on websites like Trustpilot and Sitejabber. This has contributed to the shopping platform’s questionable reputation.

Further, despite Wish being based in San Francisco, U.S., the majority of merchants selling on the platform are from China and overseas distributors.

In many cases, customers don’t realize their items are coming from China because of an agreement with China Post, and the U.S Postal Service that provides fast, low-cost shipping.

Many of the shoe listings on Wish use images stolen from other websitesMany of the shoe listings on Wish use images stolen from other websites

You can go on the Wish website or download the app, but you will have to make an account before browsing. It is image dominant, and you will see various items that are typically small in size (easy to ship) as well as counterfeit goods like Rolex watches or Gucci purses.

Wish Criticism

Counterfeit goods and poor quality items that look nothing like their photos seem to be plentiful on the shopping platform, which has resulted in a fair amount of criticism. This has also contributed to increasing consumer complaints and a questionable reputation.

In an attempt to remedy this, Szulczewski brought on former Facebook employee Connie Chang. She organized a community of 10,000 Wish users that helped her identify unsatisfactory dealers. They became a large group of secret shoppers that were provided free goods in exchange for their reporting.

Mobile home steam sauna for personal relaxation sold on Wish shopping appMobile home steam sauna for personal relaxation sold on Wish shopping app

The fact that Wish has to use a group of 10,000 users to identify shady retailers using their platform shows how little control the platform actually has. This has also made it easier for retailers to sell illegal items. For example, just last year, a UK man was imprisoned for buying a stun gun on Wish, which is illegal in the UK.

Bizarre and questionable advertisements have also brought Wish under fire. At one point, you could purchase former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain for just $22.

This is one of the latest Wish offerings to attract media attention. Comedian Lewis Costello tweeted, “Great morning shopping on Wish. I’ve just secured a KFC onesie, a bow and arrow, and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Should be a good weekend.”

There are also Twitter and Facebook accounts dedicated to sharing the ridiculous items and advertisements found on the website.

Consumer Reviews on Wish

Although the reviews online aren’t the worst, they aren’t great either. On Trustpilot, Wish has nearly 100k reviews with a 3.7 rating. These reviews are a little odd after closer investigation.

Many of the 5-star reviews don’t match the message. For example, one reviewer said, “for the most part, I like the Wish website. I do not like the fact that I order stuff just to be told that I did not get the order. I don’t know what kind of shenanigans this is, but it makes for a very upset customer.”

Chewing toys for cats that supposedly are good for oral health careChewing toys for cats that supposedly are good for oral health care

Another reviewer stated, “All these positive reviews must be fake, this is the only company I’ve ever ordered from, and I’ve heard nothing for 6 days. I asked simply where my order was, the reply was ‘we don’t understand the question???’. Do not use Wish! About 2 days after the order, it says I can’t get a refund. They then ask me for the item order number, no record of it!!?? Avoid!”

The reviews are even worse on Sitejabber. It has a 2.4-star rating, with only 1.5% positive reviews in the last 12 months! Many reviewers say the descriptions were inaccurate, they never received the product, could not get a refund, and never answered their customer inquiries.

There is also a Reddit thread on Wish with differing opinions. Some say that you have to expect a lower-quality item from China, but overall it is a good option. Others say the website is full of scammer, third-party merchants that are only after your money.

Wish Pricing and Refunds

Although you can usually count on lower prices, Wish may show you and your friend the same item for different prices. They use dynamic pricing with an algorithm that aims to increase the number of transactions.

A merchant will set their target price but then Wish will adjust it accordingly. Some merchants (usually the ones with higher quality items) have complained because with already low-profit margins, Wish prices their items too low, and they end up losing money.

The underwear fake butt liter promises to make your bottom bigger, sexier, and more attractiveThe underwear fake butt liter promises to make your bottom bigger, sexier, and more attractive

Wish states, “We always try to make sure the final price is either the target retail price or something very close to it.” They state that they reserve the right to adjust prices shown to the customers to optimize sales.

Many eCommerce websites use dynamic pricing; however, it is often controlled by the retailer. You find many low-cost, cheaply made items with higher mark-ups and wiggle room in the pricing because of the way Wish pricing works.

Wish does offer refunds within 30 days of the purchase price. From the reviews, it sounds as though it is challenging to get through to customer service to make this happen. You may be eligible to receive a full refund, or you may get “Wish Cash,” which is a credit to be applied to future purchases.

It is important to note that some people have had luck on the website. They have received products they enjoy and that were delivered in a reasonable amount of time. The website itself is as safe as any other online retailer.

Catnip fish toy meant to excite cats and reduce cat emotions and stressCatnip fish toy meant to excite cats and reduce cat emotions and stress

When you create an account (which is needed to shop), they’ll have your email, location, and IP address. There is the same risk of hacking as anywhere else.

The key to shopping safely on the site is reading reviews carefully and reading every detail in the description. Is any information missing, like the size of the item? If so, consider it a red flag and move on.

You need to be more skeptical when buying products off Wish than if you were shopping on a well-known brand’s website or Amazon.

To maximize your online security, many reviewers recommend using PayPal when paying. In the event there is an issue getting a refund, you may have better luck going through PayPal than you would your credit card.

Lastly, don’t forget to look at the shipping time. Some have very lengthy shipping times, and if it takes over 30 days, it can make it more challenging for you to get a refund if it doesn’t arrive or isn’t want you ordered.

Another popular meme says, “be careful what you Wish for,” which again takes a jab at the shopping platform. Everyone loves a great deal, but some are too good to be true.

If you want to purchase something off Wish, be extra diligent, and you could be one of the lucky few who get a good product for a great price.