Online Sample Sale Sites: No Bargains Here

(This post may sound eerily familiar to the one about there being too many “deal sites”, but instead of quantity, I’m wondering if there are truly any deals to be found on sites such as HauteLook, Beyond The Rack, Gilt Groupe, etc.)

Like clockwork, every morning at 11am, they appear in my inbox, emails from HL/BYR, hawking their wares at “discounted prices”.  Despite receiving and sadly, opening/perusing through each and every one of these emails for more than a year, I think today is going to be my last…I’m unsubscribing!

As I look through their merchandise, instead of thinking, “Gee, this is a great deal!”, it either makes me feel bad ’cause I can’t afford it anyway OR I’m soo disinterested in what they have to offer ’cause it’s stuff that I wouldn’t even take a second look at!

In any event, in terms of their target market, I think they’ve missed their mark with me, a true bargain hunter.

This may disgust some, but I *love* shopping.  I’ve come to terms with how vapid it sounds and I’m okay with it.  Similar to writing, I can even miss meals if&when I’m really in-the-zone with my bargain huntin’.

I’m also an avid eBay seller/buyer, more of a buyer lately ’cause it’s just not a good market to sell.  (Actually I joke that eBay should take away my PowerSeller title and replace it with “PowerBuyer”, due to my recent transactions. 😉 )

So purses with brand names that I’m not even remotely interested, being on “sale” on the above mentioned sites, for $1399.99 just doesn’t turn my crank.  Don’t get me wrong, I will pay that for something that I’ve researched, touched, assessed the workmanship, material, size, usability of, and finally, determined that it was an actual deal as opposed to an inflated “Was $2000, Now $1399.99” deal.

At a recent gathering with friends whom I haven’t seen in a while, one friend admitted that she has made use of these sites, buying a lot of merchandise.  I asked her if most of the items have “worked out” for her and she stated that even if they didn’t, the cost of return shipping wasn’t worth it, so she was basically stuck with an ill-fitting dress.  She also mentioned that the shipping rates were expensive.

Just how many unsatisfactory purchases off these sites were similar to my friend’s?  Have you found any good deals on these sites mentioned?

As for myself, I’m stickin’ to physical shopping and eBay!

15 responses to “Online Sample Sale Sites: No Bargains Here”

  1. Rachel says:

    I unsubscribed from all the sample sites too. However, I’ve kept my subscription to Shop It To Me, since they let me specify the dollar amount of stuff I want to look at. Mind you, there are still months where I send all their emails directly to the trash, to avoid temptation.

  2. Phaine says:

    I became disenchanted with Beyond the rack, when I noticed that some of their ‘bargains’, weren’t really bargains. Case in point, they recently featured a jewelry line by the brand ‘Police’ on their site. They listed items such as a bracelet marked down to $40.00 from $92.99 and a pendent for $54.99 marked down from $105 etc. They sound like great deals, yes? Well Sears Canada, is selling the exact same merchandise at the REGULAR price of $40.00 and $54.99. In a gist, BTR sale prices = the regular prices of Sears Canada.

    I noticed something similar with HauteLook. They had designer watches on ‘sale’, but when I looked at other stores, I found the products listed for identical…if not cheaper prices.

    I enjoy visiting both websites because they sometimes introduce me to new brands/products, however, ‘deals’ they do not offer.

  3. Sally says:

    Seems like you need to be well eductated in the actual retail value to see if these “deals” are really worth it.

  4. christina says:

    I hear you…I’ve stopped even looking at those anymore. The only I look at is because they have REAL bargains on great items like clothing, shoes, and even toys! Shipping is $2 per item and boy do they ever ship FAST (has to be to the US though), which cannot be said for BTR. Nomorerack sales are only good for 24 hours before it changes to new items…I like that as well!
    I ran into problems with the checkout because it didn’t like my canadian address but they told me to put washington as my home state so we got around it and had no problems since. Customer service is excellent! They’re on facebook too so you can preview the next days sale.

  5. Mfornalik says:

    I’m a hands-on shopper myself!

    You mentioned purses, which I LOVE! And at this point, some brands make awesome handbags.

    But instead of shopping on these online sites, I hit the stores, and if you hit Coach at the right time, you can find a bargain! I found an awesome spring/summer handbag, valued at $400 and paid $80. That, to me, is a bargain!

    Happy shopping all!

  6. Christa says:

    I absolutely agree. I used to check those sites religiously, but then I realized that the deals really aren’t all that great. Sometimes, there are amazing deals on that site but for the most part it’s all skewed in a way that makes one believe the discounts are greater than they actually are. Sometimes you can actually get better deals in-store or on eBay if you really know where to look. Also, the return shipping is atrocious.

    I bought a pair of Gucci sunglasses for about $120 not including shipping, and they don’t fit me at all. And I can’t re-sell them because although their retail value is at $350, all of the online retailers that sell this item are selling it at about $150, so there’s no way for me to even try and make a profit off them. At this point, I just want them off my hands so I’ll probably give them away to someone or sell them for ridiculously cheap.

    I highly doubt I’ll be buying anything else from these sites, although I do have a $40 credit with Hautelook because they cancelled one of my orders I just haven’t found anything worth spending that on.

  7. Clarence says:

    Beyond the Rack is terrible – even if you can find a deal there it’ll take MONTHS for them to ship your purchase. I’ve got a $10 referral credit that I can’t even be bothered to spend there, not worth the hassle.

  8. Cathy says:

    My friend just purchased a pair of jeans from Hautelook that didn’t fit but she said returning was easy and free. Hautelook had included a return slip that Canada Post scanned and that was it.

  9. Debbie says:

    I’ve bought lots from Haute Look and have always been pleased with my purchases. If you know the selling value of the goods in the stores you can tell when they are good deals or not on the site.

  10. Reanna says:

    I personally love these websites. I’ve purchased a lot of high-end cosmetics from Hautelook at hugely discounted prices.
    I also purchased a Heys luggage set from Beyond the Rack. Although I found the Beyond the Rack shipping to be slower than that of Hautelook, I like that they ship from a Canadian warehouse to Canadian customers, so you bypass any customs that you would have paid if the products shipped from the US. Also — shipping charges I find to be great. The luggage set I ordered had the biggest suitcase measuring in at 30″, and the shipping was still only around $11. They offer a flat shipping rate regardless of the size and weight of the product.
    I love these sites and check them daily at 11AM.

  11. Jess says:

    I agree with the statement that they don’t seem like deals.
    The shipping is way too much.

    I do, however, like that I can purchase brands that I wouldn’t normally hear about. I only buy from Hautelook, and I’m very selective with what I buy. I’ve bought 7 things, and only one didn’t fit true to size, but I kept it anyway.

    I wish GILT shipped to Canada!

  12. thatgengirl says:

    I’ve had a lot of success with BTR, but I always make sure to research a product before I buy it, to make sure it’s a good deal. I recently bought some canvas prints (shipped in 2 weeks)from them after comparing the costs to other websites, and I’m pretty sure I saved about $80. My referral links had led to a total of $60 in credit, which made paying for the prints an easy choice to make. Even if they could be found cheaper elsewhere, I wouldn’t have credit at the other place.

    I’ve bought two purses from them, a Big Buddha and a Nicole Lee. I know there’s a good chance that both purses will end up at Winner’s for cheaper, but then I would have had to shop at Winners every day to make sure I got the ones I wanted. Not time-wise, in my opinion.

    My little sister bought a nice butterfly motif duvet set from BTR and it was shipped within 3 weeks. While she’s seen some really nice ones at other stores, the retail prices are more than double for the same quality. She paid Ikea price for The Bay quality.

    For the record BTR ships from a Canadian location, so you never have to pay customs/brokerage/duty, and they have a flat-rate shipping cost of $12. That’s pretty darned good considering some of their items are small appliances.

  13. Parisa says:

    I use to be a BTR buyer. They are from a Canadian location and I actually got the items rather quickly, if they are at all delayed, they do let you know and keep you updated.

    I agree with thatgengirl that you need to research the product before you buy from that site to make sure it is a good deal since a lot of items come from collections that are minimum a year old.
    I ended up getting a few items from a brand I love that closed down their women’s line a year ago and there were pieces I have wanted for so long.

    If you use these sites for long lost items, I think you will be happy.

  14. kd says:

    You all should go to! They are from Calgary and they have great deals!

  15. Maryna says:


    I was excited to use this site when I first saw it and purchased a few things, EVERY single item that came was either too big or too small, and I had to return it, not only did they deduct the shipping of the credit back but I also lost 10 dollars per item for shipping it here, in totaly I probably spend at least 100$ in shipping, all of their sizes are wrong. Recently I bought a body suit that was suppose to be a S and it was XXXS it wouldn’t not even go on. I couldn’t even return it although the package it came in was OPEN, anyone could’ve tried it on, I wrote them a message and they didn’t even more to read it! Also have you noticed that they say the item is coming directly from the designer/manufacturor and that is why it takes them so long to ship it, but then they have the same model modelling different items from different designers, so how does that even make sense? I think they delay shipment on purpose. My friend who purchased an item from here as well said it smelled like SMOKE when she got it. HORRIBLE SITE DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY.


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