How to swap a beauty box and avoid being scammed: Etiquette to observe

How to swap a beauty box and avoid being scammed: Tips, tricks and pointers
Swapping a beauty box with a stranger over the internet can be exciting and even satisfying but you have to be lucky not to meet feckless cheats, as I recently did. You also need to think, as I am now doing sadly - are you better off spending that amount on yourself at a nice makeup counter? But if you still love the idea of receiving a box of surprises, I'm sharing some tips and pointers for swapping a beauty box with someone, including where you can find a beauty box "swapper".
But first, have a look at my mistakes. You remember a beauty box swap I did with two Greek beauty bloggers - my second swap till date? The one where I received a tonne of PR samples, freebies and USED products after I spent EUR30 buying products from Dirty Works and Accessorize, and EUR15 on registered post? Please do read the full post to understand the extent of the subterfuge and duplicity involved in this beauty box swap.
How to swap a beauty box and avoid being scammed: Tips, tricks and pointersHow to swap a beauty box and avoid being scammed: Tips, tricks and pointers

I recently found out, during my weekend break, that they had, in addition to those offences, sent me products well past the expiry date. Which is why I am raking this all up now. Imagine my shock when I reached into my travel bag for a footcream and opened this sachet from the swap, only to find it was long past the use-by date. Here's proof, in these pictures above. The box was posted to me in late September and reached in early October, long past April 2013. No excuses. And here are links to what I was sent, already reviewed on their blog. The moment they received my box, my page was unfollowed by them. I wonder if the other girl they swapped with (see my earlier post) told them she received PR samples as well (all items in her box were also already reviewed on their blog, with the same packaging) and if any of her items had also passed the expiry date. Please enlarge the photos by clicking on them, so you can see they all have the same expiry date.
How to swap a beauty box and avoid being scammed: Tips, tricks and pointers
All my earlier attempts to contact them had been in vain. Once I found out about the expiry date, I left a rude message on their page from my personal account, the one you can see in the screenshot. The moment I sent this message, I was banned from their page and couldn't go on there ever since.  Lovely girls. WHERE IS KARMA? Oh, and I intend to leave this and my previous post's bloglinks on their blog, just so they know :)
If there is any justification on their parts or explanation, I would be glad to listen to it, instead of being banned and blocked all over the place. Or at least an apology. The banning and blocking serves only to assure me that this was a deliberate scam and con-job.
Right, no more ranting or unpleasantness. Now for the pointers for first-timers.

How to shop for a beauty box swap:

How to swap a beauty box and avoid being scammed: Tips, tricks and pointers

1. Agree on a spending limit, excluding postage costs - DO NOT UNDERSPEND! Exceeding if you're generous is up to you.
2. Discuss each other's tastes, allergies and skin type and if you prefer only natural items or don't mind anything. I always mention that I don't use false lashes, toners and lipgloss.
3. Discuss whether you would each like only local products or a mix; or makeup alone, or skincare alone or a mix.
4. Avoid nail polishes (unless you both are okay with it) and foundations or compact powder. One is tricky to ship; the other is tricky to match.
5. Do not send used or really hopeless items - would you like to receive used things? Shop for everything brand new as far as possible, though it is also fine to swap unused things from beauty boxes - Ipsy even has a section for this on their website!
6. DO NOT SEND FAKES. I can't emphasise this enough. I've read swap posts where the poor, decent blogger received fakes and had to put up with it and pretend to be sweet and polite about it. I've never received a fake in a swap nor sent one and have no intention of doing either.
7. Do NOT send PR items or freebies - or samples - unless agreed upon beforehand. If you think you have things to get rid of, add them to the box AFTER you cross the pre-decided budget. 
8. If you have too much of something and too few of something else, mention it so they can keep note of it when they go shopping for you. For e.g. I have too many mascaras right now so I can't open another for ages - avoid! Whereas I'm always looking for wonder mattifiers/eye-creams and running through moisturisers.
9. Stick to the same kinds of brands. If you're going to send Chanel or Tom Ford, you'll exhaust $50 in one product! Don't go for dirt-cheap with poor quality either; pick 3-4 items for $10 or more and a couple that are slightly less for your $50.
10. If you're including samples, sachets and freebies, do not include them in the budget. If you're including a gift/jewellery/a snack, don't include that in the budget either.
How to swap a beauty box and avoid being scammed: Tips, tricks and pointersHow to swap a beauty box and avoid being scammed: Tips, tricks and pointers

Whom to swap beauty boxes with and where to find them:

1. This is best for bloggers and fellow-bloggers. Beware of scammers! (There's a way out below)
2. See if both of you have been blogging for a while or have a decent following. I don't recommend swapping if your blog is a month old and has three followers. Scam-possibility again! Whereas a reasonably established blogger isn't going anywhere. I can't vouch for this - so-called established bloggers have sent me PR samples.
3. Relax - there's hope for non-bloggers. Several bloggers host swapping-rounds, where some 20 people sign up and are assigned to a swapping partner by the host. And then you swap and send your host the pictures of what you're sending first, and the tracking numbers, on the same day. She'll pass them to you/your partner. If one doesn't send, there's time to stop the other. This is the best way to find a swap-buddy (I've been approached both times through my blog but if no one approaches me by November I'll sign up for my third and last one of this year).
I honestly recommend avoiding swaps unless either of the above criteria is met.
4. Pick someone from a different country and region each time. You don't want to end up with more of what you already have or can easily get, do you? I always want brands I haven't tried, or even heard of, so country/region matters!
How to swap a beauty box and avoid being scammed: Tips, tricks and pointers
Gift sent to me by the lovely Elle May in addition to beauty items

Sending a beauty box via international post:

1. Use only registered post and give each other the tracking numbers. The expense is worth it, believe me!
2. Pack everything thoroughly. And pack it all over again once more. Oodles of bubblewrap, a sturdy box, beans... the works. More bubblewrap. More! Use a few miles of it!
3. Write "Gift; No commercial value" on the customs declaration. It is a gift and isn't for commercial purposes!
4. If you're using recycled packaging, mention it. The recipient may expect a pretty gift box.
5. Gift-wrap everything as much as possible. Not only is this a nice unwrapping surprise for both of you, but few customs/postal people are heartless enough to tear open the gifts cutely packed by some adorable girls. Or steal.
6. Include a note inside, preferably specifying what's inside so you both know if anything has been taken.
P.S. All pictures except for those of the expired products, the screenshot and the last photo are from my successful and very satisfactory beauty box swap with the lovely Elle May.
How to swap a beauty box and avoid being scammed: Tips, tricks and pointers

After you receive your beauty box:

1. Make sure you write about the boxes received in your respective blogs, tagging each other. This is supposed to generate more traffic than guest posts! I've done my end two times now :)
2. This is a hit-and-miss, like a beauty box. If you are worried about getting the short-end of the stick or include shoddy stuff expecting to get shoddy stuff in return, spend the money on yourself.
3. Disappearing from the planet is in bad taste. Stay in touch at least until both your posts are up. Comment on each other's posts, say thank you; follow each other and remain on good terms. If you vanish, the other person will suspect your swap was dodgy, and dig deep, and realise who brought you into the world, and how they brought you up, as I have now done.
4. Most importantly, have fun! That's the whole point!

As for me, it is near Christmas and I'm trying to drum up some goodwill. I'll say this: I hope they enjoy the Dirty Works and Accessorize - and consider it my charitable makeup donation of the year.
UPDATE/EDIT: I've left the below comment on their blog and know it will be deleted soon! By the way, check here for proof that everything sent to me was PR or swatched. This and the other comments I left on their blog have already been deleted. I know I seem bloodthirsty, but I'm having fun irritating them when they're desperately trying to remove every trace of their con job.
  1. Thanks for the post. Have not swapped till now and I don't think I even want to now!

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    Replies
    1. Glad to be of help :( Baaaaaawl! It's not fair, WHERE is karma???

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  2. Oh no, I have only had good luck with box swaps. But I never directly paid anyone. I've only done exchanges. So sorry to hear about this.

    Barbara @ www.allmylivesnow.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the support, Barbara! I wish I'd met swappers as lovely as you and those you swapped with. I did one successful swap with a very sweet girl in Cornwall and we've become friends ever since, but this one did leave a bad taste in the mouth all around. Just to clarify - the 30 euros was the amount I spent on products for them, and 15 euros on postage - I hadn't paid them, but it certainly felt like it when I received swatched products and PR samples past the expiry date. Thanks again, though!

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  3. That sucks for you big time! Being scammed is awful. Hope karma will get those sisters down!

    http://eyelashforaneyelash.blogspot.com

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  4. That sounds like a horrible experience, and the fact that they blocked/banned you just takes the cake. You should still see if the expired products are any good! There are a number of reasons for expiration dates such as degradation of certain ingredients (vitamins etc) or it could just be arbitrary, you never know. Hopefully no one ever does any trades with these people again. Shame on them!

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  5. Dirty Works seems to have been apt brand to send them.

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  6. dats sound so bad...there r some ppl who dont even know what is karma and i think she is one of them....

    ReplyDelete

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