Beauty Bitch: Recession Proofing for FABs

Mimi ON Nov 18, 2008 AT 4:24 pm

You only need to sharpen your hearing for a little while in the company of the right people to hear of further furtive adventures on Ebay. I’ve written before about the credit-crunch beating practice of fashion and beauty editors flogging their freebies on Ebay to boost their bank balances, but it seems this cash bonanza habit just continues to grow.

A famous handbag company employs someone full-time purely to track down those guilty of selling their goodie bag swag, and premium make up brands do the same, buying back their own products in order to track the culprits. Of course, I say goodie bag swag, when what I really mean is goodies called in for ‘photography’ or ‘testing’ that make their way onto the auction site having ‘got lost’ in the fashion/beauty cupboards. 

But, nobody takes the biscuit as much as a well known newsreader who was given a generous quantity of beauty products as a thank you for pitching up to a beauty launch (and a fee, I suspect), and then went around the London department stores trying to swap it all back for cash the following day. She was met with stony faced resistance at all attempts, no matter how much she varied her story of how it was bought for her by a friend/cousin/monkey. It’s good to know that the counter dragons breathed their usual fire over a fibbing celebrity, much in the same way they do to anyone trying to blag a sample. 

There’s also a new trend in bare faced blagging, I hear, that really has to beat any unseemly trading on auction sites. It’s the one where the beauty editor says, “I won’t feature it unless you send me one.” And by ‘one’, we aren’t talking about lipsticks or mascaras – we are talking massively priced (over £700) luxury goods that are virtually made to order that won’t make the beauty pages unless they are ‘gifted’ a set. Tut. In case you wonder what happens to these grabby goddesses, apparently the practice is to ignore such requests until they get the message. But, persistence is all, or maybe it’s desperation, but in my view if you want to negotiate an over generous freebie in something tantamount to blackmail, you should never do it via an email. Or seven, at the last count. 

As far as the Ebay sellers go, once they are tracked, a senior PR member will discretely telephone them and ask them not to do it again, or even notify their editor. Then, their details are consigned to the rubbish bin and their name is mud – and not the therapeutic kind. Beauty writers who haven’t realised that in many circumstances the samples they are sent have a code that lets the PR know who has got what. Once they are bought back by the beauty company from Ebay, the code number tells them all they need to know. 

So, while we’re all pinching the pennies right now, it’s probably advisable not to cash in on short term gain, because much like a face lift, there’s bound to be some long term pain.

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