As the title probably informed you, I was ripped off in a nail polish swap that started over a year ago. What stings even more is that it was by an indiepolish maker, Nastassia of Ooh La Lacquer. I would’ve never expected someone who makes her living by producing nail polish to do something so disrespectful…
In December 2012, I responded to a post on tumblr asking to do a swap. In the post, the girl, Nastassia, stated that she could swap several brands, including OPI, because she could get them cheaply at her work. This spurred me into action, seeing as I was dying for some OPI Skyfall nail polishes.
When I contacted her, she told me she’d made that post a while ago, but that she’d love to swap with me regardless. She gave me her private email adress so we could communicate via mail. I started emailing her to organise the swap and she responded the next day.
I’d never swapped before (which I told her), so I let her take the reigns. She suggested swapping 10 nail polishes, which I thought was a lot. But seeing as I’d never swapped before, I didn’t know what the usual number was. I’d also got some holiday and birthday money, so I knew I could splurge a little.
In the beginning, everything seemed fine. She wasn’t always very quick to respond, but I figured she was busy with her other swaps. As soon as I got the list of nail polishes she wanted, I started looking for them. When I couldn’t find some in the stores of my own city, I went to different places to buy them there. I wanted to be able to get her every nail polish she’d asked for. Eventually I was able to get every single polish on her list.
When I emailed her to say I’d been able to buy the polishes she wanted, I asked her if she wanted me to include a picture. She told me she wanted it to be a surprise. Never did she offer to send me a picture, nor did she ever instagram a picture of the package she was going to send me. Looking back, I should’ve noticed something amiss back then, but I was so excited about my first swap….
Her responses became sparser as time went on, but I kept having faith. After all, I was putting a lot of time, money and effort into the swap, so I assumed anyone who was passionate about nail polish ( especially an indiepolish creator like Nastassia) would be doing the same.
Eventually she emailed me to ask for my mailing adress and told me she was going to mail the package that friday. I gave my adress and started figuring out the logistics to mail my package to her. I got tissue paper and bubble wrap to wrap everything up for the journey overseas, I bought some extras (earrings, nail care products, a mini nail polish, chocolate), I got some skin care samples and I wrote a nice letter. About a month after she supposedly sent the swap package my way (during this time she gave me her adress), I sent my package to her.
Then the waiting began… I was just not getting the swap package… In the few emails she sent me during this time, she told me to be patient and that she didn’t know what was going on. Then suddenly, on 16 April 2013 (about a month after I shipped the package), she sent me an email to tell me that she’d got my swap package and she was so happy with what I sent her. She also put pictures on her Instagram.
In the meantime, I still hadn’t received my end of the swap… I kept mailing her because I was getting desperate I was never going to get the nail polishes I asked for. After a month of radio silence, she suddenly emailed me back. She told me the package she’d sent me had been returned to her. She was going to divide it in two seperate packages and resend the packages to me.
Reassured, I started waiting again. Months went by and again I received nothing. None of the mails I sent Natassia were ever answered. Getting very desperate, I emailed a blogger who’d previously swapped with Nastassia. She’d also had some issues with Nastassia and adviced me to do what she’s done: go on Instagram and ask Nastassia for an explanation.
When I did exactly that, suddenly Nastassia was reminded of my existence… She replied after a few days of me leaving comments on her Instagram pictures. I was told she’d stopped using the email adress she’d given me and that I needed to send an email to her professional email (aka the one she uses for her webshop where she sells her own indiepolishes.) For some reason, she calls herself Shakira on this email adress.
I promptly did what she asked and sent a mail to the new adress she’d given me. It would always take days (and several comments left on her Instagram pictures) before she would answer me. She would often reply to me on Instagram that she was going to return my email that evening when she got home and lo and behold, after a few days, I still wouldn’t get an email…
Eventually (after about 2 months of me mailing her and her stringing me along) she offered to buy me 10 nail polishes of my choice online. Happy that I was finally getting somewhere, I send her a list of nail polishes I wanted, seeing as the majority of the nail polishes I’d originally asked for where no longer available.
But of course this isn’t the end of this tale… Having the list of nail polishes I wanted and my mailing adress, she found another problem: none of the webshops she found shipped to Belgium. Of course when I started looking for webshops that shipped to Belgium, I immediately found 2 that did! One of which even shipped for free!
Now you might think, well that solves it! No way she can find a roadblock now! But she did…
She emailed me to complain that she couldn’t order from Beautybay.com (which ships globally, including to the US, so bullshit, she couldn’t order) and that she couldn’t pay on prettypolish.nl because of the different currency (which is also false).
When I (politely and delicately) called bullshit on her excuses, she stopped emailing me back and stopped replying to my comments on Instagram. Even though she’d offered to reimburse me in the last email I got from her (pictured above), I never heard from her again…
Except for a final message on a picture on my own Instagram, telling me to stop leaving comments on her Instagram:
After she commented this, she blocked me on Instagram and took away the last method of communication I had… Needless to say, she never sent me that email.
From what I’ve gathered by looking at her Instagram, she’s bought herself at least 51 (!) nail polishes since we started the swap over a year ago (of those, 29 since she received my package), and she’s had 6 swaps/ nail mails (excluding mine).
And here I am, no reimbursement, no nail polishes, nothing to show except a lot of emails and effort put into an unfair “swap”. While she is raking in the nail polishes and experiencing succes with her indiepolish business.
But to end this post on a semi-positive note, I thought I’d leave you with some tips to help prevent you from ending up in this situation.
What I learned from this experience (AKA some advice):
- Do research about the person you’re swapping with. You can also ask them for references if they’ve swapped before.
- If you’re unsure whether your swapbuddy can be trusted, ask them to send their package first.
- In case this is not a possibility and you can both afford tracking, ask your buddy to send the package with a tracking code.
- In case you can’t afford tracking or don’t want to bother with the hassle, you can both take pictures of the products you’re going to send and/or the package itself and email the pictures to each other. You can also ask your swap buddy to keep their receipt from the post office, indicating they actually sent the swap package.
Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Sadly there are unsavory people out there who will take avantage of your kindness.
If standing up for yourself (and potentially being seen as rude) can stop you from ending up in my situation, you are better off ditching the nice attitude. People with good intentions will understand when you explain why you’re being careful.
And just because someone is in the business, doesn’t mean they won’t try to take advantage of you.
Update: I finally received compensation from Nastassia. When I reached out to others in the nail community, suddenly I was back on her radar and after about a month of mailing her, I was finally able to get some money back.