Friday, March 11, 2016

Personal Experience #4

My name is *name removed* and I have a fashion weakness for statement jewelry, particularly necklaces. That’s how I found Mirina Collections – while scrolling through my Instagram account one day I happened to see their page and went to check out the website.
Many “Mirina Girls” are approached by representatives who ask them to become a ‘brand ambassador’ and plug their merchandise, but I found out about the program on their site – ambassadors get a decent discount on the products, a discount code to share with followers, and can be featured wearing the “hand made in the USA” statement pieces.
Usually, if it sounds too good to be true, it is, so I did a little research, didn’t find much at the time, and thought that I would go for it – if only to be the owner of some beautiful North American-made necklaces. On the December 2015 I ordered the piece Mirina called “Amazon”, listed for $149 USD, used my ‘introductory discount code’ to get the necklace “for free”, and I had to pay “shipping and weight” fees, which was a little more than $54 USD (more than $80 here in Canada).
On the Mirina website they claim that each piece is hand made, and made-to-order, so they say that there’s an estimated 4 week wait prior to being shipped (this is when they claim they’re “making” your necklace/necklaces). During this time I happened to be on the Amazon.com site and – glory be – I spotted one of the “original designs” featured on the Mirina website, from a seller in China. Mirina’s listed price for ‘Andy’: $149 USD plus shipping and weight. Amazon.com’s price: $7 USD, and free shipping. This is when I got that sinking feeling that I was about to learn an expensive lesson. I searched Amazon.com for more of Mirina’s “original designs” and found nearly all of them for between $5-$15 USD. On another site – AliExpress.com – I found every piece of jewelry that was listed on Mirina’s site, rings, necklaces, and all, and listed for $2-$10 USD and with free shipping. Take a wild guess at the estimated shipping time to North America. If you guessed around 4 weeks, you’re right. When I finally received my order (which I haven’t yet unbagged – that’s coming) I had to laugh – the customs declaration waybill had the weight listed as 10 US ounces and the declared value of the necklace was $3 USD. Three dollars. Now, either Mirina lied on the customs declaration, or they lied about the actual value of their “hand made original designs”, because a $149 hand made necklace shouldn’t have a declared value of only three dollars.
Along with the jewelry, I started looking more into the ambassador program and “shout-out” program Mirina offers. Mirina targets ladies on Instagram, primarily, asking them to promote their wares in exchange for an ‘ambassador discount’ of 50%, a discount code of 20% that can be shared with the ambassador’s followers (of which, there are usually a few hundred per ambassador), and with both the shout-out and ambassador programs, ladies are supposed to be ‘featured’ on their social media. Typically, if a business approaches a person and asks THEM to promote their products, that individual DOES NOT SPEND A DIME of their own money. When you go to work, do you pay the company in order to perform your job? Of course not! So why would an ambassador, recruited by the company, have to pay anything – 50% of their listed prices or shipping – to do the “job” of promoting their merchandise? And wouldn’t a company seek out people with THOUSANDS of followers, as opposed to HUNDREDS? As well as the out-of-pocket spending, there’s the issues with the discount codes – according to the website, if ambassadors do not request a reactivation of their codes within 60 days of their purchase the codes will not work. Meaning, there are many girls giving expired codes to their followers, and it’s likely that they don’t know, but when you’re only getting 20-50% off of a piece of merchandise that is more than 90% more expensive than on other sites, wouldn’t you want to know that?
Any complaints and negative feedback or comments are promptly deleted from social media, and individuals who do speak out are blocked. Why does a business not want to publicly diffuse any negative publicity, instead preferring to whitewash their media outlets and pretend that we haven’t discovered some truth? How can Mirina claim that they are being defamed when they can’t show that what we are saying isn’t true – that we didn’t find their pieces on other websites, for considerably less; that discount codes must be reactivated every 60 days; that ambassadors must pay for the privilege of promoting Mirina’s wares; that their “shipping and weight fees” are several times that what USPS charges, and more? How frightened does a company get when they start issuing cease and desist letters to former ambassadors/customers like myself, or bloggers who have exposed Mirina’s business practices?
Mirina’s owner, Britt, claims that former ambassadors and customers are speaking out with the sole intention of gaining some sort of “fame” or more followers through our “continued defamation”, and while I can’t speak for everyone, I have been speaking out in the hopes of preventing someone like myself from falling for the same line. I have no financial stake in Mirina’s business – I’m not a competitor in the jewelry business, I have no business affiliation with any other company – and I don’t stand to profit in any way, financially or in followers, for being honest and upholding my personal ethics and integrity. I simply want to warn others and keep them from making the same mistake I made, or from learning an expensive lesson.



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