A week ago I posted a picture of me in the car on Instagram, where I announced that I found a grey hair. I got a message by someone called "Pierre Arden Ambassador Scout" (with 56 followers at the time of writing), wishing to collaborate. They told me to DM their main account.
I looked at both Instagram profiles. Both feature a bunch of fashionable and not-overweight dudes wearing watches. I figured, I never bothered before. Lemme at least see what they have to offer. So I messaged them. On a Sunday. At noon.
I got a reply back within minutes. All nicely typed out, saying I fit their brand—
Oh, hold on. apparently Stone Appeal is also going to try this out on me. Cool. Yep. Same deal. I got a message back immediately after responding (this one happened at like 2:45pm cos I started writing the message at about then). this one I got to watch real-time; they messaged me an entire paragraph in about four seconds. For these, I enter a code to save 100% off their products, but just pay shipping of $9 per piece. I suspect the jewellery they sell on their site is actually worth $5 or so, so they'd still be making money.
Well that was a fun diversion. Now, where was I? Oh yes.
So Pierre Arden (not to be confused with Pierre Cardin, an actual fashion brand) offers some nice-looking watches, but I've never heard of this company. I can't really tell if the watches are anything special, not by the pictures, and though the site shows testimonials from Forbes and GQ, I can't find an actual record of those reviews.
Oh, so Pierre Arden would offer 50% off their watches, which doesn't look generous enough given their brand awareness, but they'll also offer me 25% off (as if 50% is too much) and give me a 30% commission on anything they sell from my affiliate code. All for posting pictures of me with their watch.
The website scamion has a slew of complaints essentially ranging from "they are so cheap they aren't worth £5!" to "and I never got my watch!" And it looks like all the complaints came from people who bought into the 50% offer.
After all this, I think I won't bother.
Anyway, let's move on to Stone Appeal!
I think it's a good idea now to mention that
- I've been writing this post since like 2pm, and in the meantime I built a new web server, ate lunch, and installed a dual front/rear dash cam.
- Today I got three messages from people to DM another person, all with brand ambassadorship offers.
- All these sites are generic Shopify sites. So, basically, they're all red flags.
Stone Appeal's Instagram is pretty clever. They post 3x3 sets for enlarged images of nice looking stuff. I covered their pitch above, and that their site is a big, templated red flag. At least they're smart about it. The site doesn't have an "About Us" page, and they don't make testimonials from nonexistent reviews.
But I've already had a dubious cold-call with a deal today. So, thanks but no thanks.
Let's go take a look at the third one, Brute Impact!
They reached out while I was trying to stuff a USB cable inside the weather stripping of my car. I didn't know till I got back. Again it was a comment from a different account asking me to DM the main account. I didn't bother. I went straight to their Shopify site.
At least this one has a little more work done, with a slightly snapper design and even blog posts! (As of this writing, it looks like they only wrote sparingly from August, 2019 to June, 2020.)
A perusal of reviews on Trustpilot shows that the same scam is running strong even on their site. They tried to run a good-review campaign on November 4th, 2020 to help boost their ratings, but over half of the reviews are negative. Removing the November 4th campaign has them at 87% negative. That's 13 out of 15 reviews under three stars. Even the 3-star review wasn't very glowing.
I'm so glad me in my unkempt, hasn't-been-cut-in-five-months hair, gas station shades, blue American Apparel hoodie (which i got when they were closing)—in a damn Ford Focus—has garnered so much attention that scouts think I'm ripe to be their brand ambassador. But even if I was the type, I doubt I'd wanna affiliate with bad track records.
I'll be adding other brands that use these shady tactics as I find them.
- Vivienne Dufort: to be fair, they didn't contact me; I contacted them first. The difference in this one is that—as the company's merchandise targets exclusively women—I kept getting called "dear".
- Coldest Jewelry: looks like an account associated with Stone Appeal changed the company they're peeling for, according to the old DMs. I imagine it would be the same deal.