Of Consumer Protection and Birkenstocks

Learning a lesson the hard way

Andy Spears


Photo by Sarah Sheedy on Unsplash

I write a lot about consumer protection — about the mainstream businesses that harm consumers through nefarious practices.

However, there’s still the threat from the good, old-fashioned scam.

A story from Orrin Onken about some Birkenstocks that never arrived offers some key lessons in how to avoid being scammed.

He tells the tale well and offers a deep dive into the key lessons he learned.

Here are my four takeaways that could help you avoid losing money to a scam:

  1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is an old adage, and it still applies. Be wary of the offer that is better than it should be.
  2. Check the website. In this case, the selling site was pretty sketchy. In any case, do a search for the site and read some reviews about it.
  3. Research. This is similar to 2, but if the site seems okay, check out the selling company — how long have they been in business? Can you talk with a live person for customer service? What is their return policy?
  4. Listen to warnings. In this case, a warning from the bank was ignored. But, if you get such a warning, that’s a good time to go back to numbers 2 and 3. Take a moment to pause and consider what you’re being told.

Here’s how this story ended:

I have no new Birkenstocks. My money and my credit card information are in the hands of bad guys. I have to go through the whole new credit card process, just like I didn’t want to do.

Consider this tale when you get a “too good to be true offer” — it may help you avoid the same fate.

In addition to consumer protection, I write about education policy and also write some short fiction.



Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .