Beauty box swap with Greek blogger duo: A horrible experience

I like the idea of doing beauty box swaps a couple of times every year. So far, I've done one with the awesome Elle Robson from the UK (blog here), which was brilliant - she painstakingly went out and bought me things which I specifically wanted, and some lovely surprises, including a special gift from Cornwall.
This time, my swap was with Jenny and Gogo Kourakou, the Greece-based sister-bloggers of Our Beauty Wonderland - ourbeautywonderland.blogspot.gr. Their blog is in Greek but you can find a translate button on the top right, below the header.
Jenny/Gogo and I decided on a spending limit of EUR30, apart from postage - we agreed that we would both send by registered post with tracking, to prevent nasty shocks. I had asked for purely Greek/regional brands, provided lip glosses, toners and false eyelashes were avoided. They asked for a mix of Indian and non-Indian brands, as they said several were not available, and asked me to avoid glosses as well. We discussed skin types and so on as well and told each other when we were "going shopping for each other" and when "our shopping" was complete.
They had packed everything in a pouch from Bioplasis cosmetics (posted on their blog), which will come in use for storing shampoos and conditioners. Read on to find out how this beauty box swap went horribly wrong and I was taken for a ride by some clever women.

Their box arrived today and I'm so glad they had used stamps. I am a rather nostalgic and nerdy stamp collector and I'm so glad life hasn't become dreary enough to root the pretty stamps out.
Inside were:
A note
Mastic Spa Cocoa Butter Cream
Panthenols 4 Action Aqua Repair
Golden Rose Diamond Powder
Mesauda Compact
Lavera Concealer
Golden Rose Eyeshadow Duo
Aden Cosmetics Eyeshadow Trio
Aden Cosmetics Baked eyeshadow
Beauty Line Cosmetics Eyeliner duo
Sample sunscreen
Sample sachets of foot and hand creams x 2 each
Sample sachets of serums x 2
Foundation sample sachet
Quite a few foil sachets in there (remember my rants about those?), and I find most items have been reviewed, photographed and mentioned on their blog as PR samples.

The Golden Rose Diamonds Powder has fine shimmer that you just brush on lightly. I'm still at page 7 or so of their blogposts, so I'll update this once I have proof that this was also a freebie.
I'll do an eye-look with the Golden Rose eyeshadow duo. Both greens are matte (shown on their blog in a PR post; also includes the duo pencil).
There are also a couple of baked shadows from Aden Cosmetics, which can be used wet or dry (shown on their blog as PR items sent for review).
There's a concealer stick from Lavera Naturkosmetik, made in Germany. The concealer is the right shade for me and offers light to medium coverage (shown and mentioned as a PR sample among other Lavera items on their blog).
There's a small sample tube of sunscreen from Castalia (shown as a PR sample on their blog).
I first thought the Mesauda was a powder compact - but it was way too dark for me and I mentioned it to Jenny and Gogo - it's listed on their blog as a PR sample and a compact and as being too dark for them as well - the exact shade, so I may be forgiven for my suspicious mind. They've told me it was a matte bronzer. This is an Italian product. I'm using it for contouring. You can see a swatch mark here as well as on the link to the post in their blog.
Panthenols 4-Action Aqua Repair: I did wonder if this was a moisturiser or a repair cream or a sunscreen or anti-ageing. The girls said it was a day cream with UV protection (reviewed as a PR sample, among other Panthenols products, on their blog, with the external packaging).
Mastic Spa Oinostherapy Cocoa Butter Cream in Mastic and Wine: The cream surface looks smoothed out. The cream is pink and there is a fine aroma of red wine - it contains Greek Ariousios Wine. I'll review it in detail once I begin to use it (shown and reviewed as a PR sample on their blog).
Beauty Line Cosmetics Double Cosmetic Pencil: One side is a deep green while the other is a paler green.
Some foil sachets of Lapitak Foot and Hand Care Creams. EDITED on December 1 to add: Expiry date seen to be April 2013. Shameful!
Ditto a couple of Castalia skin care foil sachets.
A matte foundation foil sachet from Biomaris, Germany. I hope the shade is right!
I'm very iffy about the many foil sachets and all the suspected PR samples, given that I went shopping instead of sending freebies, and I can only hope nothing has been used. 
Feel free to check out the blog and, over a few pages, you'll see the same items that I received, reviewed and marked as PR samples. I have purposely not provided back-links to each PR sample review so I don't have contributing to the traffic on my conscience but have added them below as inactive text (not removed as of the time of this posting). I've now seen their previous box swap with a British blogger contained items which have been specified as PR samples on their blog.
Here are the links to each of these products. I hope they are not removed, and am not responsible if the girls are privy to this and have removed them. Please type ourbeautywonderland.blogspot.gr/ in front of each link (don't forget the backslash):
2013/07/dust-cream-beauty-products-and-more.html
2013/09/bioplasis-review.html
2013/07/mesauda-cosmetics.html - Enlarge the picture of the compact here and you'll see the same swatch mark in my photograph above.2013/06/review-castalia.html
2013/07/lavera.review.html
2013/09/we-fell-head-over-heels-for-aden.html
2013/07/mastic-spa-review.html
2013/07/panthenols-products-review.html
I sent Jenny and Gogo full-sized items from a mix of Indian and non-Indian brands - as per their request - including Rimmel (lipstick, mascara), Dirty Works (body wash), NYX (10-shadow palette), Accessorize (baked shadow), Maybelline (blush) and Lakme (lipstick, kajal), VLCC  (lip balm), Nourish Foot Bar, Elle 18 (lipsticks). I had also popped in a couple of fillers after the EUR30-odd, such as a Tresemme sampler kit, a Nair hair remover and so on. I used recycled packaging as always, and let them know beforehand. They're yet to upload their box, but here is the screenshot of the message they sent me once they received the box I sent:
I would love to do another box swap this year for something up to $40 or so, preferably with some from a country/region I haven't swapped with - the far East? Italy? Croatia? Belgium? Korea? Scandinavia? Provided, of course, they agree that we both use registered post only! Sooner, rather than before the Christmas rush, and to get the PR-sample "taste" out of my mouth. Let's see.
A negative tone there, but I'm (okay, have worked as) a journalist and I 1. do not like being lied to about these things and 2. do a lot of digging.
Box swaps, apart from bringing you some pleasant - unpleasant in this case - surprises in the mail, are a way of getting to know beauty products from other countries. It's advisable, if you decide to go for swapping, to pick someone from a different region each time and ask for something that is local/regional for them rather than international brands which you can get at your place or online. Do decide beforehand if you will send each other PR samples, though - it's in bad form to send freebies and make it look like you've spent the money. It is okay to send things from beauty boxes, because you paid for them, but freebies aren't cricket, unless you're not counting the freebie within the budget. I'll do a post on beauty-box swapping for beginners soon, including lessons I've learnt and where you can find swap-buddies. What say?
  1. This is why, not everybody is ready for a beauty swap..
    at least not when you get to spend so much money and time on the product and buy stuff all by yourself and have that enthu and excitement from day 1 n till the day the package reaches them..
    when you finally receive your package and all you could find is the pr sample which are left unused(may be coz the other party didn't like? :/ )

    Take care Renu *get well soon from the heartache*

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    1. Thank you! Appreciate the support. Lots more homework needed, I've learnt quite a few valuable lessons here - check previous swaps first!

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    2. very true.. You must have checked it already. and You could have told them not to include any pr samples(hell, as if you dreamt about it)

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    3. I should always go through every blog post and comment first. But who dreams you'll be sent freebies when you're told specifically that the senders are "going shopping for you on Monday and getting you nine things in addition to another 6 another time"? I have a screenshot of that as well.

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    4. haa.. that is there too...
      forget it..
      its just not your day :(

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    5. True. I hope nothing worse happens today, that's all :(

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  2. Oh dear! Thats just disgusting... And where does conscience go? Knowing that you have put your heart into the box and bought things to their specification and they send PR Samples? Thats ridiculous.. Thank god you asked not to be sent lip glosses.. the thought of them sending you used lipgloss is giving me night terrors! Better luck next time <3

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    1. Conscience seems to be non-existent in this case. I've been well and truly scammed, that's what. And they've got away with this stunt a second time, with products from different countries, which were paid for, by spending postage alone. Well played. Ick, I never use lipgloss. Thank you for the support!

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  3. I would love to do a swap! But i think we would have similar products since I am based in the middleast. :)

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    1. Haha true... you'll get everything from here over there!

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  4. I'm glad that you liked the one I sent, I see you did get a good few things in this box but I understand your frustration and upset about this, I loved the swap we did and I use everything you sent :) take care sweetie xx

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    1. Thank you! You sent me sealed things which you had bought based on my suggestions! No sachet, no sample, no freebie! How can I not love it?

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  5. Beauty box swapping is good but box full of PR samples that doesnt sounds good and when u have generously spent money to get them wat they expected.. !!

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    1. And they said they were going shopping, bought nine things, would buy more and whatnot. I can barely see nine full-sized items anywhere there.

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  6. and you were a journalistt.. now I knew where u got ur writing skills from.. ;) :P :P ..

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  7. Didnt they realise that you would find and read about these products on their blog and you would know that these are PR samples??? It is shocking how they could lie to you and do this.
    I like reading about people's beauty swaps but somehow, its not for me. Best of luck with your subsequent ones. Hope you find honest people to swap with :)

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    1. Which is why I have unceremoniously been un-liked and un-followed over the last two days. I'm re-thinking it as well. Finding reasonably straight people is very difficult these days.

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  8. :) such a great idea Renu! Maybe you and I can do a swap sometime even though we both live in India! We both get a ton of stuff from all over the world, so it might be fun to just do a Christmas surprise box (with beauty and other items). I had fun reading this post.

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    1. It is supposed to be a fun process, shopping for someone else and getting surprises but in this case, it has been such an unpleasant shock, receiving PR samples. It hasn't even sunken it properly!

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  9. Gosh! This is so unacceptable, what I dont understand is how do such people face themselves when their lies are called upon? Its so beyond my understanding to dupe someone like this. sorry you had such an experience.

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    1. The more I see of the world the less goodness I find in it - I know I should move on from this, but it has been such a shock; to an extent we all think ourselves immune to being scammed.

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  10. That is just wrong...Hope you have better experience next time.

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    1. Thank you! In retrospect, I need to take a break from swapping and do my homework well before thinking about a next time.

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  11. Wow I am somewhat disgusted that the majority of the products they provided have been reviewed as PR samples and I am hoping they're not the same ones. It goes to show how little effort, and possibly money spent, they put in in a beauty swap and take advantage of other peoples' generosity to get freebies. You should confront them because that is unacceptable. Euughh I would be so pissed; I hope you have a better experience next time!

    Louise | Vanity Corner

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    1. The compact definitely is exactly the same thing - enlarge that picture here and on their blog and you see a same light streak, as is someone has run their finger down on it. They even declared it was shade #7 and not their colour and then tell me it's a "bronzer". They've "unliked" my page and cut off all communication some three days ago. Now I know why.

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  12. Omg!!! Cutoff all connections frm u?? My my! Thanks for sharing this with us! I've learnt a lot in case I ever plan on doin a swap myself!
    xx

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    1. I'm planning to do a "What to know before you swap" sort of post; I've learnt so much from this!

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  13. PR Samples?? like seriously?? it would have taken you minutes to take all those foil sachets from your n number of beauty boxes and send it!! Seriously disgusting on their part..

    I so badly wanted to do a beauty box swap but this has got me thinking..

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    1. The whole point is that you have fun shopping for each other and actually spend that amount, not give freebies. Even beauty box products are acceptable, since you pay for the beauty box subscription (unless the box itself is a freebie), so I suppose you can calculate the cost of the product. Nonetheless, you expect each other to actually go out there and buy a few things. I'm extremely disappointed by this experience, and that's putting it mildly.

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    1. It gets worse. The swipe mark you can see on the "compact" when you enlarge that photo is there in their blog post about the compact as well. Eeeeek!

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  15. God! How can they turn out like this? I mean, After reading this they should atleast be sorry and should send you some good and genuinely send some unused products.

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    1. In an ideal world. In reality, thicker skins exist :(

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  16. very bad ... absolutely irritating..what ppl are they???....take care renu...hope it doesnt happen next time..

    well do share the beauty swap post for beginners and i would love to read it <3 <3

    Love,

    Iswarya

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    1. Thank you! Will post shortly!

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  17. They claimed these brands are Greek too? ( Sorry If I missed somethşng there cause I read you specially asked them for Greek brands.)

    Well Golden Rose brand is a Turkish brand and not the best brand around but fairly ok for a drugstore brand.

    Sorry to hear your experience withthem was a bad one but this is internet. People tend to think they can do anything using it and don't get caught. =(

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    1. Yes, I had asked for Greek only - and I had even mentioned Korres and Apivita. But ended up with Turkish, Italian and so on instead. I suppose Korres didn't send them PR samples, while the Turkish and Italian brands did. I really hope such a thing never happens to me again!

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  18. Not proud to be Greek in this case, Renu!

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    1. Oh, please don't say that! It has nothing to do with the nationality - I apologise for giving that impression. It could have happened in a swap with an Indian or American or whoever... basic human nature! I love Greek myths and Greek plays (Antigone being the favourite) and Greek cuisine and hope to visit someday!

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    2. I wish you'll come in Greece!If you ever visit my country contact me to guide you!


      Kisses from Athens :-)

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    3. Thank you, sweetie! Hopefully in the next couple of years!

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  19. Oh girl, I feel bad too cause I am Greek and follow their blog! That was a big shame! I didn't know until now that bloggers do beauty box swaps but if it was me the first thing I would think would be Korres, Apivita and Fresh Line! So sorry for what happened to you! :-(
    mariasbeautifulworld.blogspot.gr

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    1. Wow, Maria - people like you are why I'm glad I began blogging, else I'd never there are such fair, just and supportive people on the planet. There is hope for mankind! Well, those were the brands I had wanted to try as I had heard of them for ages but clearly they hadn't sent PR samples/freebies in this instance. Thank you so much for your kind words xx

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    2. Well, judging from the type of person they proved to be, even if they had PR samples from these companies, they would never send them to you cause these products are very good and a bit expensive so they would keep them for themselves!

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  20. wow that sucks.. i hope you will never had to experience this kind of horrible thing ever again. i don't get it why people do such things, it will only make a bad name of themselves. they should be ashamed

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