Beware of Unscrupulous Internet Wig Companies

A friend facing breast cancer treatment decided to invest in a wig before she lost her hair. Having looked at the limited (and some would say, less than convincing) wigs available through the NHS, she decided to try her luck on the internet.

She found what looked like a lovely real hair piece in a style and colour similar to her own on a UK website, measured her head to ensure she obtained the right size and ordered it. The company warned each wig was ‘custom made’ and therefore it would take up to five weeks to arrive. There was only just enough time before treatment began so F kept her fingers crossed it would arrive in time.

With days to go, it did. However F was shocked to discover it had a bald spot at the front and sections of hair which seemed to be missing at the back. In addition the fastenings had been sewn in the wrong way round inside which meant it was not securable. It was also much darker and courser-looking than on the website photograph.

F immediately emailed the company to complain and demand a refund, informing them that the hairpiece was unwearable as you could clearly see the lace through it. The company (who turned out to be Chinese, despite the UK web address) asked for photographs. My friend took photographs of the hairpiece and emailed them. There then followed a two-week email battle where the company repeatedly attempted to convince my friend (in polite but pigeon English) that there was nothing wrong with the wig and she just ‘wasn’t used to wigs’ but she ‘would grow to like it’. They failed to provide a return address to send the wig back to, despite repeated requests and kept telling her ‘it was custom-made especially for you’ as if that were a reason to deny her her consumer rights. F pointed out the company was contravening the Sale of Goods Act which entitled her to return faulty or unusable goods. It was the last thing she felt like doing when commencing the stress of cancer treatment and she ended up resorting to gaily coloured scarves when her hair started falling out, rather than the stylish wig she’d hoped for.

Eventually my friend complained to PayPal where she requested a refund from the seller twice, only to be turned down. She then escalated with PayPal who found in her favour that she should receive a full refund of £147. The company finally produced a return address – in China. Which didn’t show up on any Google search. However F sent it anyway and submitted the tracker number and details to PayPal. That was three weeks ago and no refund to her credit card yet. She can only hope that PayPal will freeze the company’s trading account if they delay the refund for much longer.

The moral of this tale? If you are thinking of buying a wig, always check out the company reviews carefully first. Also check their returns policy and returns address which should be clearly displayed on their website. If they are trading as a British company they should  be abiding by British consumer laws and you can probably complain to Trading Standards. My friend F had seen only the good reviews for this company, but too late realised that these reviews were all on the company website and some real stinkers were to be found elsewhere from other customers who had also lost their money and been left with hair products they could not wear.

Obviously with cancer you always hope that your hair loss will be temporary, but if you can afford to think beyond wigs, it is worth considering hair replacement with the top UK provider to tide you over for that most difficult of times. Furthermore Aspiration Hair runs its own Hair Foundation to provide free hair replacement treatment to two customers per month. However my friend was too proud to apply, taking the view that ‘someone else, perhaps a child, might need that more than I do’ Now her hair is growing back, so she will probably be free of her scarves in another month, touch wood.

However when I asked if I could use her experiences, F was keen that I should share her story to prevent anyone else from falling prey to dodgy wig companies.