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Deal or No Deal: The Fake Perfume Edition

By March 6, 2015 58 Comments

Earlier last month I came across a pretty ridiculous deal on perfumes on a well-known group-buying / flash-deal site. Hermes’ seminal Terre D’Hermes was being sold at less than half the retail price in stores. Now while I’m no stranger to these sites selling counterfeit goods, the promise of a 7-day money back guarantee if product is not authentic pushed me to place an order for it anyway.

Oooh. :)

Oooh. 🙂

 

Fact: Perfumes in the Philippines are more expensive than that around the region. I honestly do not know why. The average perfume costs Php 4000-6000 here while the same perfume would drop down to Php 3000 – 4000 if you purchase them in Hong Kong, Singapore or nearby countries.

So when I saw the Terre D’Hermes being sold for Php 2,200.00 I just grabbed at that opportunity. Hey, if it turns out that said product is indeed a fake, I could always refund my money. As a new learning experience (and being the fragrance lab-rat of Unpacked.ph) I happily obliged to the assignment.

Hermes poster

 

Here’s What Happened

Before clicking the BUY button, I did a few quick researches on the site and any bad customer experience that may have occurred. Known issues were seen but they seem to be dated – the latest entry was logged in on 2013. Reading the fine print on return policies and guarantees of authentic product, and contacting their customer service to really verify if I can return said product if I feel that I’ve been handed in a fake one, I was convinced that these guys know what they’re selling.

 

Boy was I wrong. 😀

Le Voucher

Le Voucher

 

The initial ad voucher was for the Terre D’Hermes (2006), a luxuriously oriental-woody scent conceived by  Jean-Paul Ellena, the person behind Acqua Di Parma’s Colonia Assoluta. The scent starts off with orange zest and other fine citrus before it nestles on warm bed of woody & powdery cedar, patchouli, vetiver and benzoin. While this is happening, a sharp, round spiciness can be detected playing around citrus and woody scents – most likely from the black pepper. Overall, it has a very refined masculine feel; a modern man that knows when to have fun and knows when to talk business. If you haven’t had the chance to try the scent out, I suggest you do. The opening could be a little bit intense if you’re not fond of pepper – but the dry down is to die for!

 

When the courier delivered the product, lo-and-behold, they gave me the updated version. Terre D’Hermes Eau Tres Fraiche (2014) – a lighter, more citrus blend of the original Terre D’Hermes. And while the scent does have almost the same accord as the original, it comes across too light and citrusy for my taste. Or maybe because what I got was a counterfeit product. 😉

 

So close...yet so far away.

So close…yet so far away.

 

Immediately I noticed discrepancies on the packaging. The bottle integrity is a little bit off and finishing is compromised.

 

The aluminium finish of the cap was done poorly -- or looked scraped off.

The aluminium finish of the cap was done poorly — or looked scraped off.

 

Not only that, the actual scent is a little bit too weak for its own good. Usually Hermes perfumes, even at EDT (Eau De Toilette) level packs a stronger staying power. Top notes are gone in the first 15 minutes and the scent immediately settles to its mid and base core. This means the balance of alcohol to perfume (or parfum) is greatly imbalanced.

 

Aside from the scent, the print on the text seems jaggy as well. Uh-oh.

Aside from the scent, the print on the text seems jaggy as well. Uh-oh.

 

Trying to give the deal site the benefit of the doubt, I contacted them about the mix-up of products. After all, the only Hermes I owned was a Terre D’Hermes and not its more modern and Summer Edition counterpart (although I have sampled this one before).

 

To be fair, the customer service was quick and painless and I got the replacement product in less than 2 days’ time.  So bravo, for that! This is where things get interesting. :p

 

Finally! ...or so I thought.

Finally! …or so I thought.

 

Upon opening the box, I knew I got screwed over big time.

 

Which is which?

Which is which?

 

Let’s go over the physical attributes first. While the bottles are identical, they are not the same. Again, the bottle integrity of the one purchased on the deal site is too substandard to pass for “authentic”. The metal finishing isn’t aligned and was badly damaged (there were some cracks to the metal finishing as well).

 

The metal guard should be leveled with the bottle. Why is it protruding?

The metal guard should be leveled with the bottle. Why is it protruding?

 

More bumps and cracks on the metal finishing. Yikes!

More bumps and cracks on the metal finishing. Yikes!

 

The bottle has parts that are hazy, as if it was subjected to too much heat and chemical that the bottle warped for some reason.

 

A couple more close inspection and you get to see the many differences. Like the details near the bottle's neck.

A couple more close inspection and you get to see the many differences. Like the details near the bottle’s neck.

 

You can also check the orange printing on the inside of the bottle. The one bought at the deal site had patches while the one bought from Hermes boutique in HK is smooth and clear.

 

The minor details paint a bigger and clearer picture.

The minor details paint a bigger and clearer picture.

 

Again, giving them the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume that the damage was done due to poor handling by the courier it still doesn’t answer how they could’ve misspelled parfum to parfurn.

 

I'm pretty sure this is suppose to read as Parfum.

I’m pretty sure this is suppose to read as Parfum.

 

Or how the serial number at the back of the bottle is missing on the counterfeit one. BOOM.

 

Oh, hello there.

Oh, hello there.

 

Even without smelling what’s inside you already know something’s off. But for argument’ sake, and because I wanted to craft a comprehensive side-by-side, I sprayed the fake Hermes and the real one on either sides of my arm. My left hand was sprayed with the fake one while the right was sprayed with the real one.

 

Without re-applying, the authentic Hermes lasted more than 6 hours before the scent started to fade away. The fake one, on the other hand, is gone in an hour or two – reapplied 6 times. I had to use 3 sprays for 1 of the original.

 

The authentic Terre D'Hermes is a uniquely luxurious scent that I've sampled. Perfect balance of oil and alcohol.

The authentic Terre D’Hermes is a uniquely luxurious scent that I’ve sampled. Perfect balance of oil and alcohol.

 

Then there’s the issue of the scent. The fake Hermes didn’t have the strong orange burst that the authentic one has. The scent of the fake one immediately died down to its mid and heart notes – pepper, patchouli and cedar.  So instead of having a strong oriental-citrus-woody scent all I got was a weak spicy-woody fragrance.

 

While it’s not bad, per se, the concentration of oils on the fake Hermes would make you spend more just to sustain a semblance of the original versus getting yourself an authentic one outright.

 

A clear winner!

A clear winner!

Lesson Learned

If the deal is too good to be true – it must be just that. I’ll be contacting the deal site to report my findings and hopefully they won’t fuss in giving me the proper refund. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that deal sites only sell counterfeit products, I’m just saying that sometimes they can’t police themselves as well and if you’re buying things at a ridiculously low price than what it is then you’re doing so at your own risk.

 

If you do wish to purchase from deal sites and any other online sites make sure that there’s a quick and convenient refund policy in case you do find out that what you bought was a complete and blatant fake.

 

While they do cost quite a bit, you’d still be better off buying from a reputable source like Rustan’s Department Stores, Art of Scent or the Hermes Boutique in Greenbelt 3. You have been warned. 😉

 

Terre D’Hermes retails for Php 5500 – 6000 for their 100ml EDT.

Update: Contacted their customer service and they’ll be reversing the charge on my card. No muss, no fuss. Now that’s excellent servicing there. Good job!

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Colin Chan

Colin Chan

All-around geek, Colin stretches his passion for fashion and fragrances (really, he's an addict). A once regular contributor for Unbox, he's jumped from site to site and juggles Ungeek.ph as well as Unpacked.ph. In his off time he scours through mounds of websites, youtube reviews and ads that talk about perfume (that's when he's not busy gobbling up TV series, movies and videos games left and right).

58 Comments

  • bernardo panes jr says:

    Comment
    hi. thanks for sharing your bad experience wd d online store. very informative. im planning to buy to (Perfume Philippines)they seem so legit and d discounted item is about 50% off. good thing i found your blog. is this the same store u bought ur item?

    • Colin Chan says:

      Hi Bernardo,

      Nope. It’s a different store. The one I bought from sells more than perfumes — they sell everything from fashion, food coupons and vacation stays. Hehe. It’s also a ‘Pinoy’ site. 😉 hehe.

    • Shannon dohorte says:

      Don’t buy your perfume in there. The only authentic it seems is their bottle. Not the content. I just purchased one.

    • Queen says:

      I have the same experience. The “Pick a perfume Manila” which has a big market already, lots of positive feedback, with celebrities as their clients as well, turned out to be selling fake perfumes. The thing about their items deceiving a lot of people especially those who don’t do investigations and observations, is that the fake ones also got the batch codes copied from legit ones. So manufacturer can cover the scam. Apparently, I don’t blame the sellers online because they might also NOT aware of the scam however, it is still hard to believe their innocence. Also, the “Authentic Perfume and More” from Facebook as well, also does the same thing. They put every bottles and gift set on sale and broadcast authenticity. I purchased a lot from them when I was still “trusting” but out of the 20 bottles I purchased, only 4 seemed legit and everything else is fake. Mispelled, expired and some are even 5 years old perfume. Worse, when I asked for a refund, they told me NO RETURN NO EXCHANGE POLICY. That’s one hell of a trick. I am thinking of creating a dummy account to expose these shops.

  • bernardo panes jr says:

    Comment
    hi. Colin thanks for sharing your bad experience wd d online store. very informative. im planning to buy to (Perfume Philippines)they seem so legit and d discounted item is about 50% off. good thing i found your blog. is this the same store u bought ur item?

  • Sahar says:

    Hi! I was wondering if you could check out if perfumes.com.ph is legit? I am looking for a legit online perfume store! Thank you!:)

    • Colin Chan says:

      Hi Sahar,

      Haven’t realy tried perfumes.com. Checked it the other night and Google gave me a couple of warnings about the site’s certificate not being duly recognized by Google. Personally, you’d be best off with Fragrancenet.com, Fragrancex.com. What particular fragrance are you looking for anyway?

      • Sahar says:

        Thank you! Well I’ve been looking for Taylor Swift’s “Wonderstruck” and Miss Dior and I can’t find TSwift’s anywhere in Manila. Miss Dior is soooo expensive (6k for 100ml bottle) in the malls but online the USA price is cheaper. 🙂

      • Sahar says:

        I just checked fragrancenet.com and fragrancex.com. the former does not ship to the Philippines but fragrancex does! So I’m so happy, thank you! 😀

      • Linda says:

        I just ordered from fragrance net.com and received a fake Hermes Un Jardin sur le Nil. Packaging and bottle looked authentic but cap was tight and scent lasted only 15 mins. I sent it back for a refund which is pending in two weeks.

      • Dawn says:

        Hi
        Allbeauty.com sells genuine terre d Hermes …bought three last year for Christmas presents 200ml for the eau de toilette 79.95 .the pure perfume natural spray 200 ml 104.95 and worth every penny .hope thus helps
        Dawn

        • Jj says:

          Pls. Visit Facebook page PhiLondon.com where you can buy great improted stuff from london specially chocolates and perfumes..its all 100% authentic bcoz your the one who will search on the website of the store and the PhiLondon staff the one who purchase it for you then ship to your address or you can pick it up to their warehouse in laguna.

  • Pete says:

    I just bought Leau Par Kenzo and Versace Pour Homme from perfumes.com.ph. I think they are legit judging from the packaging, scent and longevity. But Im naturally skeptic so I want a 3rd party verification. I hope you can review them. This is a big help to Philippine fragrance community.

    • Colin Chan says:

      Hey Pete,

      Wow, thanks for the kind words. We’ll check the site out and give you our assumptions.

      Thanks!

      • Riesa Ann Laquindanum says:

        hi. has the perfumes.com.ph already been verified as legit? Need ur help guys. thanks

        • Colin Chan says:

          Heya,

          Sorry haven’t really tried ordering anything from perfumes.com.ph soley because majority of what they have you is easily found in various fragrance groups and some trusted grey market areas. That being said, upon checking the site, they do have a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee that lets you return the product if you doubt its authenticity. 🙂 Hope that helps! (Also prices seem decent — not the usual buy 1 take 1 for 1300).

  • Nadjah says:

    Hi colin, can you also check out if Lazada perfumes is legit?
    I searched for “gucci rush eau de toilette”.. I found one and the supplier’s name is “The Perfumery”.. and they’re selling it for only php2,899.00 from the original price of php7,000,00.. 63% off..
    should I trust them?

    • Colin Chan says:

      Hey there,

      Thanks for dropping by. Hmm…buying things in Lazada is usually a tricky ordeal especially if the seller isn’t the Lazada shop themselves. That being said, Gucci Rush is a pretty well-known perfume so you can easily compare the scent bought online to the ones in store. Lazada, I believe, has a return policy so you can try to buy the perfume there then if it turns out as fake, you can easily have the item returned and get your refund. 🙂

      Best of luck!

      Colin

    • micko says:

      Hi! I’ve tried purchasing perfumes from Lazada, twice. I returned my Versace perfume because it was fake; got a refund. Hoping that the first fake perfume I bought was just an isolated case from that particular seller (Lazada has various sellers or merchants which they allow to sell products on their site), I bought another perfume, a Bvlgari. Also, it’s FAKE.

      Seems that these online stores are taking the “consumers protection act” for granted. We also have laws against counterfeit items but it seems they are not afraid of it.

      • Colin Chan says:

        Unfortunately Lazada cannot police all of their online sellers (they get vendors elsewhere similar to amazon.com and other online stores. Usually these vendors are outside the Philippines too so that I think in part makes it hard to police said items. If you are going to risk shopping at Lazada for perfume make sure that the store name listed is Lazada itself. That at least ensures that the company will be held responsible for selling fakes and increases higher chance of getting authentic products. 🙂

      • Mae says:

        Just bought a J’adore from them and it sooo fake. Hope to get my refund soon.

    • Mhean says:

      Lazada sell Class A perfumes. Bought 3 from them, different fragrances, all look suspicious.

  • Rafael says:

    Hi, Colin! May I ask where I can get an authentic Creed Green Irish Tweed for less than what you would usually find it for in Rustan’s? Could you recommended to me grey market sellers whom you trust to sell authentic Creed fragrances? I read in another blog of yours that Creeds can be had for as low as 6000, so I just need to know where I can get them at that price.

    • Colin Chan says:

      Hey Raf,

      You’d want to check out Adam & Criselda’s in Greenhills and/or Cash & Carry. Price range for Green Irish Tweed would be around 5500-6000. The local fragrance community can attest to their stock’s authenticity. 🙂

      Sometimes Rustan’s will be having some Creed Sale, though. I was able to buy Virgin Island Water for 7500 (still more expensive than Grey Market — but at least I can use my credit card and split payment to 3 months, 0 interest).

      Anyhoo, hope that helps! Thanks for stumbling upon the page!

      All the best,

      Colin

      • Rafael says:

        Thank you very much for the tip! I just reserved a 120 mL bottle of Creed Green Irish Tweed for 5500 at Adam’s and Criselda’s Greenhills. Now that is a great deal! With what you have said, I trust that I will get an authentic product.

  • Nathaniel says:

    Wow thank you so much.. Ive heard a lit of news regarding cash n carry. Very skeptical at first but it hit me when my professor attest to those products . his wearing versace and from 5feet away i can smell the projection. Thank you so much

  • Justin jara says:

    Can I ask a huge favor to review this perfume store from FB if their perfumes are legit. Here’s the link. https://m.facebook.com/messages/read/?tid=H6Mm%2B%2BIHmSYI8oj0Jj8m6Q#~!/perfumephofficial/?tsid=0.3698745886795223&source=typeahead

    • Colin Chan says:

      Hi Justin,

      The seller already mentioned that he/she sells “U.S. Authentic Testers” frankly there’s no such thing as that. Plus if a store gives you a blanket price for all their products you should be wary already. I’d stay away from this if I were you. 🙂

  • Juan Gabriel G. Lopez says:

    Are the prices at adam’s and criselda’s close to the prices of fragranceX? How long does it usually take for orders from FragranceX to arrive and any feedbacks?

    Thank you

    • Colin Chan says:

      Hi Juan Gabriel Lopez,

      It really depends on the fragrance but the prices from Adams and Criselda’s are closer to that of online discounters like FragraneX and Beautyspin than those from the bigger department stores. 🙂 As for delivery time, I haven’t had the opportunity to have any packages shipped directly from FragranceX and/or Beautyspin to the Philippines. Usually I would use a third-party forwarder like Johnny Air Cargo to ship my wares which would take about a week or two at max. It’s more convenient than going through Phil Post Office (had a really bad experience with the Main Post Office here in Manila).

      Hope that helps and thanks for dropping by the site! 🙂

  • Dave Mustaine says:

    Hi Colin,

    You mentioned you used Johnny Air. I’ve used it once, for a pair of running shoes and it cost me a around 1.1k Php for delivery. I wonder how would be a 100ml or 125ml bottle of perfume, usually made of thick glass, will be assessed. I figure it could be as heavy as a box of shoes. If that’s the case, a shipping charge from JohnnyAir of around 1k will be too much just for one bottle of perfume.

    • Colin Chan says:

      Sorry for the late reply. Yup a bottle of 100 or 125ml perfume would cost anywhere from 800 to 1200 pesos. I believe that you can probably squeeze in one or two more but it depends on the box size. The minimum weight is 2lbs which is a lot (there are roughly 480ml in a lb). But they also compute volumentric weight (so the size of the container matters) and they’ll choose the higher of the two. If you’re buying around 3 perfumes then 800 to 1200 is fine. I tried getting around 5 and the cost jumped to around 2k. >_

  • Mike says:

    Hi, I was just wondering if anyone here has tried out PhilippineBoutique.com? Or can someone check the site and give me your opinion if they are legit, they’ve got an ebay and has a lot of good comments but then again based on experience, not all comments in a sellers page are to be trusted. Thank you 🙂

    • Colin Chan says:

      Haven’t had the chance to check. Will let you know when I do. 🙂

    • Hide san says:

      Yup i purchased my boss no.6 from them as i can say i did my own research for legit and fake, and now im their loyal customer hehe my second purchased was acqua di gio profumo you can also request for a hard to find perfume from them. Also theyre selling a 10ml decants for the customers peace of mind 🙂

  • Evangeline M. Dare says:

    There sure are less genuine products being sold at Lazada. It’s obvious. For example in perfumes, Lanvin Arpege or Chanel sell for a price range of 6 thou to 1 thou plus! (with the most expensive being sold at installment prices for 24 months). Imagine same brands having 5 kinds of prices from 5 different stores!

    I just hope that sellers would be more honest and indicate that their products are simply versions of the original, not really fake but honest to goodness versions.

    I do not mind buying versions of the original. They are less expensive and sometimes, imitations are all that we can afford. However, there should be truth and honesty in the way we conduct business. It is as simple as this.

    Can Lazada take care of this request and demand from their sellers to be more truthful, or do these sellers even know they are selling imitations?

    • Colin Chan says:

      I know how you feel. Hehe. I’m sure there’s a reporting channel for Lazada. And as far as I know Lazada is trying their best to ensure that what they’re selling are authentic. Selling counterfeit products is still illegal and is a punishable crime. From what I know once they’ve investigated a certain seller to be procuring and distributing fake wares they cancel the contract of the seller.

      The problem is not all sellers are locally sourced. They get a lot from other countries like Indonesia and Malaysia and some in Singapore. Not entirely sure how they go about screening process, though. So as far as going after these sellers, our laws may have very little (to no) effect.

      Going back to what you said though, what do you mean when you say versions? Wouldn’t that count as fake, still?

      If you do want to get your hands on certain scents and do not want to pay for full price, you may try the local fragrance groups on facebook. As for decants. These are usually 10-20ml bottles of the scent that you want. So they’re still getting it from an original source, they’re just splitting the cost of the bottle with people. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to finish a 100ml bottle of perfume. hehe.

      Other countries have this service as well i.e. Scentbird. But at least with FB groups you get the perfume from hobbyist. 🙂

  • Jeremy says:

    Is there any other stores for original perfumes in the philippines.

  • Jing says:

    Hi colin! Try to visit PhiLondon.com Facebook page where you can buy 100% authentic stuffs from london specially chocolates and perfumes.

  • Gracie says:

    Don’t buy from facebook.com/scentela. I got duped with a fake Clinique. Soo mad!

  • denise says:

    hey, may i know what freight forwarder you use when ordering perfume online? what website has the best deals? fragrancenet/beautyspin/fragrancex etc..? how long does it usually take for you to be able to get the item? does the store criselda/adam’s happen to sell testers as well? also, im curious if they sell 95% perfumes too? like the ones fragrancenet sells on ebay. thank you!

    • Colin Chan says:

      I usually use Johnny Air Cargo, well you can jump between Beautyspin (now renamed to Notino) and Fragrancenet. Haven’t tried fragrancex yet. You can save a few more bucks with fragrancenet but there’s a lot of workaround. Notino is slightly (like literally a dollar or two) more expensive but is a bit more straightforward

      • Geoffrey says:

        Do your order with a local credit card with notino and fragrancenet? Seems like it does not work. What’s the workaround you mentioned? Many thanks!!!!

        • Colin Chan says:

          Hey Geoffrey,

          Yup I’ve ordered using local credit cards with both site. Fragrancenet has a partnership with amazon where billing goes through them so that’s easier in a way? Bought a bunch from notino when it was still Beautyspin. I haven’t purchased anything in the past 4 months though, so not sure if they changed credit card protocols. Hope that helps.

          Thanks!

  • jhuwen says:

    Hi Collin!

    Do you know if Adams and Criseldas’ branch in Greenhills is still open? I was planning to buy Terre d’hermes in Lazada, but after reading the comments here, I rather buy in A&C. Also, am I correct in assuming that they’re selling authentic products which are way cheaper than the ones being sold at malls. Thank you very much and more power to this blog! 😊

  • Jhuwen says:

    Hi Colin!

    Would you know if adams and criseldas branch in greenhills is still open? I was planning to buy terre d’hermes in Lazada but after seeing this post and other comments about Lazada, I decided to just buy in A&C as long as its authentic. Thanks!

  • Dee says:

    Hi Colin!
    Bought someone from Facebook, as of now I’m happy with the result. The seller had a refund system but since the product was authentic (i think) I didn’t made a refund. 😛 She sold me a D&G Light Blue US Tester. Though I’m happy with the product, just wondering, are those sellers really selling testers?

    • Dee says:

      a perfume from someone on Facebook* hehe

    • Colin Chan says:

      Hi,

      That I can’t be too sure. Some testers will make its way to the grey market, some are authentic, majority (unfortunately) are counterfeit. I try to stay away with people who label testers as US Authentic, Dubai Authentic, etc etc as really there should be no distinction where the testers came from. It’s manufactured in one place (usually France or London) and just shipped to various countries.

      I buy my perfumes at Notino.com, Fragrancex.net, and certain Amazon sellers (as long as I can verify and do a refund if I have to). If you don’t mind me asking, how much was the D&G Light Blue tester? Since the product is so popular, the percentage of fraudulent perfumes out in the market is very VERY high. ANd because of this, legit distributors usually do a lot of promotions for the line that it might be better of getting your perfume from a legit seller (and taking advantage of huge deals). Example, LuxAsia (the direct Philippine distributor) usually will have one or two major warehouse sales within the year and you can get the Light Blue at buy 1 take 1 for probably less than 1500-2000. Just be on the lookout for those. Peace of mind narin. 😀

  • Hailey says:

    Hi I’m looking to buy Bvlgari Pour Homme Extreme. In FragranceNet.com the price is $46.99 while in fragrancex.com it’s $34.14 same 3.4 oz.

    Just wanted to know if both are Authentic for the price? and why it’s cheaper in fragrancex.com

    Have anyone of you bought the same item in the stores I mentioned above?

    Hoping for a quick reply. Thank you so much!

    This blog is indeed a greeeeat help!:)

  • Janice says:

    Counterfeit labeled as “Dubai” or “US” testers are usually priced 750 to 1000 in Facebook. But I found a store in which these can be bought at 480 pesos at least! Yeah, same packaging as original but there are obvious differences when you look closely. Uhmm, i tried D&G Light Blue and it’s a close match.

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