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.
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.
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. 😀
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. 😉
Immediately I noticed discrepancies on the packaging. The bottle integrity is a little bit off and finishing is compromised.
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.
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
Upon opening the box, I knew I got screwed over big time.
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 bottle has parts that are hazy, as if it was subjected to too much heat and chemical that the bottle warped for some reason.
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.
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.
Or how the serial number at the back of the bottle is missing on the counterfeit one. BOOM.
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.
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.
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!