Toilet paper con artists are preying on Americans during the coronavirus outbreak, and it's not just price gouging at US$10 (RM43) a roll.
Online shoppers say absurd variations of toilet paper are showing up on their doorsteps, inspiring such terms as “mini rolls”, “baby rolls” and “doll paper”.
Shirley Ann Hodges of Florida told McClatchy News she ordered 12 rolls for US$16.99 (RM74) from Asia, which seemed reasonable. She got the 12 rolls all right, but they’re a fraction of the size she expected.
“Yeah, they took advantage of us. I put some in Easter baskets as gag gifts,” Hodges said. “I didn't send it back. What happens if I get desperate?”
Hector Cruz of Charlotte said “the TP shortage of 2020” compelled him to order a 10-pack for US$14.99 (RM65) and he ended up with rolls one-third the normal size.
He says he saw the ridiculousness and shared photos on Facebook, figuring others could use “a good laugh”.
“Maybe they thought I had Lego figures that needed TP,” he wrote on Facebook.
Some commenters on his post confessed they, too, had been “ripped off”, including a woman who said she received 50 rolls of cash register paper rather than toilet paper.
Stranger still is an incident reported April 16 by blogger J.R. Reed in Medium.com, involving a 12-pack of toilet paper that arrived in an envelope — minus the cardboard rolls.
“This is what happens to people in the early days of the pandemic, with people hoarding toilet paper,” Reed wrote. “You force people like my girlfriend who are very intelligent and extremely sane to order Chinese toilet paper off Amazon.”
Toilet paper was the top search on Amazon in March as shoppers faced empty store shelves, according to Marketplacepulse.com.
The shortage occurred as panicked shoppers snatched up necessities in advance of coronavirus lockdowns and travel limitations. A month later, hoarding continues and shoppers are dealing with restrictions that include crowd limits and abbreviated store hours.
That means ordering online remains critical.
The Better Business Bureau has tips for those turning to the Internet. Among them: Avoid “too good to be true” deals that may have hidden costs or flawed products.
“Many sketchy retailers advertise great deals... that don’t measure up to the promotional type,” the BBB says.
Digital Trends compiled a list of tips specifically for ordering toilet paper, including creating a list of retailers like Walmart, Target and Amazon, then checking their sites often for new shipments.
“Another option... type ‘toilet paper’ into Google, and then select the Shopping option on the search page,” Digital Trends advised. “Google will list all of the toilet paper that's for sale on the shopping page. They’ve also created a policy remove any options that include price gouging.
“Once you’ve found a pack, don’t wait! Load your cart with as many packs as you need and head straight to the checkout,” the site says. — The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service
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