How to Shop Safely With the Geek: A Smarter Shopping App
If you do a lot of shopping online—particularly for gadgets and electronics—you might have been served an advertisement or two for Geek - Smarter Shopping. If you’ve taken this a step further and had a look at the app, you’d be forgiven for thinking, “this is too good to be true”.
The app boasts ridiculously low prices on many items, both useful tools and novelty gadgets. Seemingly absurd offers of free this and discounted that. But is it a scam? Is it all that it seems? Can it be useful for you?
Let’s delve deeper into the Geek - Smarter Shopping app.
Geek/Wish and How They Work
Just a brief note on the Wish - Shopping Made Fun app. This is exactly the same thing. Same company, same suppliers, same products. Even the app is all but identical, save for a different colour scheme. From certain small print giveaways and promotional email addresses, it would seem that Wish is the parent entity and Geek is a spin off of that parent.
I have not done an in depth survey of the products on offer, so I’m not certain that both apps are selling exactly the same products, but every time I have checked for the same product on both apps, the listings come back identical. It would make more sense if Geek was a specialised version of Wish, dedicated to a particular type of product, but in my experience they both seem to be selling the same stuff.
So, onto how they work. Geek makes a concerted effort to come across as a unified entity. In truth, the way it works is closer to eBay than Amazon. When you buy through Geek, you are actually buying from a third party seller (usually in China). Geek is merely the marketplace where they can list their items, and serves as a messenger between you and sellers for questions, shipment tracking, disputes, etc. The arrangement is more or less a slimline AliExpress (or similar dropshipping site of your choice), so expect long and varied delivery times.
Is it a Scam?
Depending on how strict a definition of “scam” you want to hold Geek to, it could be considered as one, but more on that in a moment. In my opinion, no, Geek - Smarter Shopping is not a scam. I have been trying this app out for a couple of months, have spent around £50 (just under $70) across about 11 items, and so far everything has arrived and nothing has turned up broken or not what I ordered.
Of course, there are stories of different experiences to be found online. Stories of undelivered items and faulty products. So far I’ve been fortunate enough not to have this happen to me, but it’s worth mentioning that those stories are out there. It’s also worth mentioning that you can find the same sort of stories regarding Amazon, or any other online retail outlet.
But it’s not so black and white as me ordering things and them turning up. I mentioned above that you might consider this a scam if your definition is strict enough. There are some questionable tactics used by sellers that I can honestly describe as attempts to trick shoppers into buying their products. Things like having a picture cluttered with related items that aren’t what you’re buying, or being intentionally vague with the descriptions.
I have yet to come across any outright lies, however, which is why I personally am not going to label this a scam. If you’re careful, you won’t get caught out by an attempt to make you think you’re buying a Macbook when really you’re just buying a screen protector.
Geek/Wish Item Reviews
Tips to Stay Safe
There's deals to be had, you just have to know how to look
So how do you use Geek safely? Below are some invaluable tips I’ve picked up for shopping smart in Geek - Smarter Shopping.
Take Images With a Grain of Salt
Sellers can get very creative with their images in Geek. Tricks used here range from displaying associated items in the picture to give the impression that those items are what you’re buying, right up to including things that mislead you regarding the size of an object.
An example of the former is the aforementioned Macbook Pro screen protector, where the image will clearly show the expensive Macbook front and centre, while any sign of the screen protector will be in the background, or just not there at all. An example of the latter is having an object in the image—such as a hand, or piece of furniture—that is scaled incorrectly, thus making the item for sale seem larger (or smaller) than it actually is.
The images usually give some indication of the product; I’ve yet to see one that’s blatantly nothing to do with the product, but always read the descriptions carefully before buying. And be sure to look all of the images of an item. You often find that, while the first picture might be misleading, by the third or fourth picture you can have a much better idea of what is actually being sold.
"Free" Wish Items
Read Titles Carefully
A particularly sneaky trick I’ve seen a number of times on Geek - Smarter Shopping involves packing a lot of unnecessary information into the title. An example of this is a listing I found for an Android tablet case, which listed most of the technical specifications for the Android tablet itself in the title. Obviously the specs of the tablet are completely irrelevant to a simple case, but it is a sneaky way trick some people into thinking they’re getting an Android tablet for less than the price of a Happy Meal!
Don't Be Fooled By Super Low Prices
There are two ways in which the pricing of items can be used to mislead you. The first is with very low price or free items. Obviously nothing is free, no business would last very long shipping products out for nothing. Remember, there will be postage on whatever you buy, and that postage isn’t always cheap. Also, there are no bulk discounts on shipping. If you buy ten items, you will end up paying the postage ten times over, even if the items are all from the same seller!
The other way the pricing can mislead you is by lumping a number of different products together as “options” and setting the cheapest one as the listed price while using the image and title of the most expensive one. The most common example of this I have seen is listings for laptop computers for less than £30. Upon trying to order this unbelievably cheap laptop, you soon find that the low price is actually for a crummy 7” tablet, and the laptop in the picture is actually more like £150!
Obviously this particular hoodwink will become apparent when you get to the checkout phase and see your total, but I’d wager there are people who just blindly click their way through to the end of sale without really paying attention.
Check the Finer Details
I’m not sure if Geek impose any rules on item listing, but it seems that every listing contains the information you need if you look hard enough. For example, there are a lot of “HD Projectors” on sale in the app for ludicrously low prices. However, a quick look at the technical specifications in the description reveals that, while the projector has a HDMI input, and while it can receive a 1080p HD signal, its native resolution is closer to an original iPhone than a HD television.
Always read the description in detail.
I haven’t gone so far as to purchase anything expensive on Geek yet—I’m still treating it a little like gambling; don’t bet what you can’t afford to lose, etc. So far my experience has been positive, but I went into this expecting to be scammed, so perhaps I was easier to please than someone looking for a good shopping experience.
In general, be sure to observe the above tips, and you should be fine. In addition, I would strongly recommend using PayPal as your payment method, just for an additional level of protection. And remember, these items are coming from the other side of the world, so expect delivery times in weeks, not days.
© 2017 John Bullock