How to tell if a website is good deal or a scam

“Dad, I’ve found a great price for Air pods, is the website ok?”

This was the text I received from my son last week with a link to a website called Pricelulu, they were advertising the Air Pods he wanted for £178 versus a Currys price of £198 and Apple at £249. I had never heard of Pricelulu, which is not necessarily an issue, so I started to do some research. This article is intended to help all of us who like to find a good deal but don’t want to be scammed

First things first, let’s have a look at the website. First impressions are not great. Having been involved with the development of some websites I can see that they have not spent much money developing the website. Fonts are quite small, where as a retailer you would want big, images are fairly low quality, but you could argue that not spending on the website or premises is why they can offer savings. That argument is very logical but sadly a cheap website is frequently a precursor to a scam.

Reviews are the next thing to look at. Looking at Trustpilot shows an impressive 2,876 reviews with an average of 4.5 out of 5, so earning them an “Excellent” rating. A site having few reviews, or a poor rating can also be a sign of a fake site. However, having a look through the reviews it is noticeable how bad the grammar is of many of the positive reviews and the ability to use reviews as a guide has been blunted by service offering to sell good reviews to websites. The picture below shows one such offering we found today:

Given, the above we cannot simply say the site is legitimate based on its good review score, particularly when most of the positive reviews seem to be written by those whose English does not seem to be their first language.

Next, we check some of the Pricelulu details. Their contact post code is given as WX2A 2JR in central London, however the map next to it shows WC2A 2JR. This could be a simple mistake, but it would be a sloppy one on a professional site. The address is a virtual address, i.e. that address is one used by many companies and is not a physical Pricelulu office. It would seem strange that a company with nearly 3,000 reviews does not have a physical office and we are always very wary of companies who use virtual offices. Similarly, the contact telephone number is a mobile number, another worrying sign.

How do their legal bits look? Venturing into their Terms & Conditions give us some more clues. Pricelulu is a trading name and part of Meas Holdings. Meas was only incorporated in January of this year and has only one registered person/director who is a Chinese national who lives in China. Lots of warning signs there. The terms and conditions themselves are unusually brief and contain the word “outwith” which is at best unusual, at worst a sign that they have not been written by proper legal representatives.

What does the internet think? There are some other people who have noticed this site and have taken a look. One group has a YouTube video saying they think its legitimate. Another site has it down as High Risk. And other chat groups have noticed similarities to other risky sites and are very cautious.

We would suggest avoiding this website. There is a chance that it is legitimate but given our concerns about the website itself, the lack of real office or proper contact number, the lack of information on company directors and sloppy terms and conditions we would be very suspicious. As you can read, this is not necessarily an exact science but we all need to err on the side of caution to stay safe.