Wish: take my money, or not

Think daiso, dollar store, aliexpress, plus any facebook mama co-ops, all mixed into one site; one that actually has a better mobile experience than a desktop one – that’s Wish for you.

I came across the Wish site and app through a Facebook advertisement, and was intrigued because the products were similar to what the co-op groups were selling (often from China) and at much lower prices.  So, I googled. Reviews were mixed, with many poor ratings from consumers, but write-ups on tech and business sites and mentions in local sites / UW seemed to be positive in terms of its success and business model. I gave it a chance though because I ended up finding out that the cofounder and co-CEO was a former colleague/MSN Messenger friend from my UW language lab days, with whom I eventually lost touch with after he moved to Toronto[1]…because how many “Danny Zhang”s are there in the world, and what are the … Continue reading – I attribute my impulse buy of Yahoo! stocks to his indirect influence (which ended up tanking and then only finally evened out a couple years ago, at which point we promptly sold it) ← this is to say that I trust-ed him. He’s a super smart/hardworking guy, so I was super excited to learn about this (ad)venture!

Cushion covers from Wish give unused cushions new life – under $5 but ended up being free

So what does it do well?

As seen from a Facebook post in a co-op group based out of Nova Scotia
  1. Refund policy on goods that do not arrive by the promised date. I just learned that packages tend to take forever to clear customs in Canada in general and not necessarily because of Wish itself, so it often doesn’t get delivered until past the expected date – one of my first packages was delivered within a month to Kitchener, but it stayed in some facility for two months, and then only came after I got my refund. You do need to stay on top of it and open a support ticket to request a refund though. I have received 6 out of 18 items so far before the expected arrival date; the rest have been refunded – some of which have since arrived while the rest are still missing or in limbo / la-la-land somewhere. My theory is that their algorithm will self-adjust based on when you tell them that you’ve received an item (after the expected arrival time has passed, it will ask you if you have received it and if so, when), so that eventually, they will estimate a more accurate (and likely more lengthy) shipping time so you don’t keep getting free goods.
  2. Additional discounts  – it uses the psychology of limited time offers (and limited quantity offers) to persuade you to buy something. For example:
    • Group buy pricing – cheaper if you buy with someone, or if someone buys with you, you get a rebate to be used on your next purchase (by a certain time)
    • Instant offers – cheaper by a very small amount if you buy it within a set time
    • Promotional pricing – the more you buy and the more you review, the more points you get towards leveling up. Every time you level up, you get a discount – which expires after a certain time
    • Cart savings. Pro-tip: if you do not need to buy something right away and there is no timed discount offered, leave it in your cart and keep going to your cart and leaving your cart. Some time later, you will be offered an extra 5% off if you buy it right away
    • Spinning the daily discount wheel – it seems to be based on items you have viewed or have in your cart, discounted for 10 minutes

What do you need to watch for?

  1. Don’t buy anything you need if you need it by a certain time; if history is a good predictor, it can and will take months – see first point in the section above.
  2. Look at the price – many times, it advertises “up to” a certain % off (either 50% if a referral, or 20%), but I haven’t actually gotten anything more than 5% off, and I’m not even sure how to get it up to the advertised discount. Don’t trust the regular prices – they’re over-inflated, and research your prices before buying even with the discounts; sometimes, you can get it locally or elsewhere for about the same price or even lower. And click on the Related section/tab to see if other stores with similar ratings sell it for a lower price. Remember, Wish is not a single store, so if you’re reading negative comments about products from the Wish site, you need to remember that it’s likely dependent on the reseller / shop and not Wish itself (similar to Aliexpress, eBay, Amazon).
  3. Reviews. My own rule is to read each product’s reviews and only buy something that is 4 stars or more with the more ratings the better (ie. 100+), unless you are willing to take the risk and throw that money away should it not meet your expectations. You need to pay for shipping if you send back an item, so most often than not, it’s not worth it, so I don’t buy big-ticket items.
  4. It’s hard to track down a specific item, unless you know how to search for it; if you are just browsing, it’s a better shopping experience
  5. Clothing sizing is often in Asian sizing. I’m Asian, so next time I might just go with that because a L dress ended up too big in the bust area despite reviews saying it’s really small (I’m a US XS, so I’m probably 2 sizes up as opposed to 3). I’ve been trying to avoid buying adult clothing just because you can’t try it on first, but I find children’s clothing to be easier to buy as I can always buy larger and hope they will grow into – that and the price point for children’s clothing is generally lower.
  6. Know that most products are made in China; they may not be the best quality, and you may be getting a product that is like its brand-name counterpart (or counterfeit – some product rating comments will say that despite the advertised brand, it’s not the quality they expect from that brand).
  7. Support, other than on shipping, seems to be miserable – you get a different rep at each interaction and the reps sound like they follow a script so response is slow and frustrating. Case in point: I tried to get technical support because the app said I had a discount that would be automatically applied before a certain date, but I tried adding items to my cart and the discount wasn’t being applied. I did get an email reminder saying that the promo would expire in a few days (before the posted date) so I asked them to send my feedback to the technical team; the Zendesk Help thread is still ongoing.
  8. Wish is not just one app / site – they have a few others focusing on different offerings: geek, home, mama are a few of the segmented branches. However, the user experience is a very disconnected, lacking SSO (single sign on) which means you need to create a separate account for each one and your point and level history starts at 0, despite it selling the same items at the same prices – for the most part. I have noticed that the separate apps tend to be more experimental first (A/B testing?) – for example, all items used to have a base cost, with shipping to Canada about $2-$3 for a small package. However, in the separate apps one day, I noticed the same item had $0 cost but the shipping went up by $1-$2; the final total was either the same, or cheaper by $1, so I ordered through the separate app. A few days later, this model was applied on the main site / app (for marketing effectiveness, it does seem that the “you just need to pay shipping” model is more enticing than a product that costs money with a lower shipping cost). So my pro-tip advice, is that you can look on the other more focused apps / sites if you’d like, but use the main Wish app / site to buy so you can keep your points in one place (for faster discounts), and you can keep a track of your purchases all in one place.

If by now you are as curious as I was about this Wish site, and you haven’t signed up, download the Wish app (on phone, don’t sign up via desktop browser), use promo code dpvwsfd to save up to 50% off your first purchase – do let me know if you actually save 50% , because I’m thinking you’ll save at most 5%.


  1. ALee

    June 13, 2017 at 3:45 PM

    It’s a chinese typo…that 5%, it’s just missing a 0

    1. simply.emily

      June 13, 2017 at 10:00 PM

      Haha, that’s a good observation :D

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