Clark Howard: No, those prices aren’t a misprint

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If you like cheap, you’re going to love these apps I’ve been testing.

Wish and Geek (also by Wish, Inc.) are two apps that offer opportunities for you to buy direct from Chinese manufacturers on the cheap. I’m talking about everything from watches, athletic gear, selfie sticks, shoes, clothing, toys, sunglasses and much more. And all at prices so cheap, you think they’re a misprint.

The one thing you need to know about buying through these apps is that shipping can take a month or longer. So this is definitely not for the Amazon Prime crowd who expects to get what they ordered in two days.

For Chinese manufacturers, reaching the American consumer is costly. They have to go through operators in China who work with the wholesalers, who eventually work with retailers who sell the goods to you. So there’s at least a double markup. These apps cut out two levels of middlemen.

The goods are off-brand, but not counterfeits. In fact, Wish has a strict zero-tolerance policy against counterfeit product listings. The system is entirely self-policing. Merchants have to submit take-down requests for product listings that infringe on their intellectual property.

Yet at the same time that you have apps like Wish and Geek, more and more Americans want to buy American. In fact, the higher up the income ladder someone is, the more likely their focus will be on buying American.

As for me, I never think to look at the label on clothing to see where something is made. That admission might make you mad at me, and me talking about these apps is probably infuriating to you. But if you like ultra-cheap prices and can be patient as you wait for your shipment, these apps are for you.

Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website

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