Tuesday 21st May 2024

Beware dodgy sellers targeting wannabe influencers to peddle rubbish goods online

Offered a discount ‘luxury watch’ from Pierre Arden in exchange for promotion to his small numbers of Instagram followers, Paul Beadle decided to investigate whether the offer was too good to be true

The other day I was asked by a luxury watch manufacturer to become one of their brand ambassadors. I was contacted via a comment on one of my Instagram posts, which went something along the lines of ‘Hey! We like your fashion. Want to collab?’

Now, anyone who knows me, or at the very least has seen a photo of me, will know that me and fashion aren’t that closely acquainted. I assumed it was a mistake, a joke, or a bit iffy. But I was intrigued and thought ‘maybe I’ll get a blog out of this,’ so I played along.

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The watch brand was Pierre Arden, which sounds a bit like French fashion designer Pierre Cardin, but also, really not. It’s as if I’d set up a fashion label and called it Keith Saint Laurent.

Their Instagram page was full of images of moody looking men staring off into the far distance, wrist held awkwardly to ostentatiously show off a timepiece, usually accompanied with some inspirational quote: “My ambition, foresee the unseen.”

Interspersed with the obvious male models was the odd Mr Potatohead like me, dressed in their best JD Sports leisurewear, grinning uncomfortably while being photographed in their mum’s living room. “Loving my new designer watch from Pierre Arden. Hyped to be a brand ambassador!” was the usual tone.

This intrigued me further, so I did as the first message urged me, and “reached out” to the Pierre Arden account. It was early evening, so I didn’t expect to hear anything, but the reply was instantaneous – almost automatic!

“We have been reaching out to a few people who fit our style for a potential collaboration,” Automatic Pierre told me. “We don’t usually do this, but we want to offer you 50% off everything in our store, so that you can wear the latest timepieces. All we ask, is that you tag us in a picture of you wearing it and we may feature you on our page.”

“I have to buy a watch first?” I replied, incredulous. I’m sure the Kardashians don’t pay half price for all that clobber they’re seen waltzing around in.

“As much as we want to give away our products for a higher discount or for free, we can’t,” Automatic Pierre responded. “50% off our entire store is what we can offer you right now.”

I was crestfallen. My fashion model/brand ambassador/influencer career was in ruins before it had properly started. I’d had images of me and David Gandy sipping espresso in Milan.

I was directed to their website, which looked smooth and promised “exquisite Italian style combined with quality Swiss craftmanship,” alongside glowing reviews from publications including GQ and Esquire. A subsequent Google search didn’t uncover any reference to Pierre Arden on those sites.

All the watches were blingy, show-offy affairs with too much steel and leather. Priced in US dollars, they ranged from $150 to $250. Even with my 50% off brand ambassador’s discount, this struck me as pricey for an unknown brand. Particularly when something very similar looking can be picked up off Chinese shopping site Ali Express for less than a dollar, including shipping.

One brand ambassador had clearly taken on his role with much relish and had created an unboxing video of his new Pierre Arden timepiece. The plasticky leather-look strap and flimsy unbranded watch face was matched by the cheap quality of the packaging.

Back on Insta, Automatic Pierre was trying to woo me with a sweeter deal: 50% off, plus a 25% discount I could share with all my followers on my social channels, plus 30% commission on any sale resulting from my discount code. Now I felt less David Gandy and more Del Boy.

Despite the watches being ‘Italian-Swiss’ affairs, I was told they were made in the UK, but would take two to three weeks to arrive.

The reviews about Pierre Arden on www.scamion.com are all one stars, with comments slating the quality of the merchandise, slow deliveries and promised refunds that never came, most from people also tempted into becoming brand ambassadors.

When I pinged these over on my chat, the conversation quickly ground to a halt. I reported the account to Instagram on the basis that it was spam and it was removed from view in my Instagram in a few hours, although the page remains live at the time of writing with over 145,000 followers. The website and a dozen other ambassador scout Insta accounts also remain live.

I wondered whether I was being a bit harsh, after all something is only worth what you are willing to pay for it. I don’t value so-called luxury items, so I would never spend thousands of pounds on a big brand luxury watch (if I ever had the money), let alone a would-be copy.

The problem is that this kind of technique is rife on social media, with sellers tapping into people’s desire to be seen as an influencer to flog them overpriced products. My son likes to post pictures of his vegan recipes and was approached by a clothing company to be an ambassador for their vegan friendly brand. Once again, they broke off contact when he asked them to prove their clothes were actually vegan-friendly.

At best you’re being duped about the true nature and value of the stuff they’re selling, and at worst you’re handing over your details to somebody you don’t know. Forget Facebook stealing your information, we are now at risk of giving away our data for the chance of 15 minutes of fame on Instagram.

Sadly, automatic Pierre and I haven’t spoken since, and I still need to dig out my phone to see what the time is. Does anyone know of a good luxury watch brand?

Mouthy Money reached out to Pierre Arden for comment but is yet to receive a reply. We’ll update this piece if we do.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Paul Beadle

Mouthy Blogger

Paul has had a long and varied career in journalism, public relations and social media, mostly talking about money. He has a collection of over a thousand vinyl records that is worth “literally nothing”.

  1. Hey, totally agreed!
    I was fooled into buying one. Definitely not worth the money. Glad you did not make the same mistake I did. Very cheap quality and not even worth 50% of the 50% off discount that I paid for.

  2. Thanks for publishing this. I too was contacted by this company today, and to message them directly. I just hate scam artists.

  3. I was also contacted by the same brand to collaborate, my internet search led me to your article before even contacting them. Thank you very much for writing it. Its not the first time I am approached in this way and its not always clear which brands are genuine or not. I should make a post /story and let my followers know.
    Kind regards

  4. They’re the second kind of company that has reached out to me with the hey we should collab message. Lol. I’m a nobody and just started my Instagram account for my music and within the first 2 weeks I got these messages. I just ignore them one cuz you’re right, if I was a real brand ambassador I wouldn’t have to pay a dime to sport their product. I suppose a company does have to start somewhere and it would only take say a guy like me to “blowup” and wearing their brand would skyrocket their stock so I’m not mad at their tactics. I’ll just ignore them for now and wait for Gucci or Louis Vuitton to contact me first. Lol. Good article.

  5. I was thinking the same thing and got as far into it as the crazy offers before finding your blog… Lol… I wasn’t planning on doing anything with them even for a blog and I definitely laugh when the photos the asked to colab on were me in a hat turned backwards and a sleeveless t-shirt… Lol… What a fashion plate!

  6. Thanks for the info Paul , had one of these messages but found you first before answering !!
    Need to buy a good watch get yourself a Rolex , my wife bought me GMT Master (Pepsi version) 25 years ago when we got married for £1,800 it is now classed as a classic and it’s value now is 10 fold 😱😱 but that’s only if I decide to sell It of course .
    Steve Wood

  7. Thanks for posting this. I had 2 styles in my shopping cart after being given the 50% discount + a Buy 2 Get 2 Free opportunity if purchased in 24 hours…but then I thought to myself, maybe I should do a little research. This was at the top of my Google search results and after reading it and the comments above the one I’m leaving, I’ll be heading over to the discount store nearby to pick myself up a new timepiece. I appreciate the input and information.

  8. I just got contacted by these wonderful people as well. All of my 200 followers that love the pictures of my cat are gonna be disappointed that I didn’t take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to hawk a cheap junk brand.

  9. Thanks for the article, even i received this message regarding 50% off and 25% for subscriber’s then 30% commission.. I knew it’s Fishy, cz in collaboration you get paid plus free product’s to showcase of the Brand.

  10. Thank you. I was hit up by an attractive female saying she was working for PJ. Fortunately, so many scams or exaggerated offers online because being on lockdown we have become easy targets. So because of that I googled and your review was highlighted. It’s not an awful deal if they’re offering legitimately 50 percent discount on something you like. But just be up front. Truly Branding would be free gear and/or commission.

  11. Thank you for the blog! I also was contacted but I thought this is too good to be true. Luckily, I found this blog and know now for sure it is a scam. I am going to report the insta page, I hope that will help.

  12. I am so happy I found this article, I got an invite today from Automatic Pierre’s good friend BriandMitchell (insert a ridiculous amount of random number) to be “brand ambassador” also. Like any of these types of messages I thought it was scam but when I saw the page branding with all the broody looking mens it just made me laugh.

    BrianMitchell must have been on acid or something to look at my Instagram page filled with semi-blurry pictures of my cat and all my 140 followers and think this would work.

  13. Thank you for the article Paul! I received the offer today and immediately did the Google search and your article appears right after their AD. I received offers from other companies with similar stories as well. Good to see this article before I lose my first follower.

  14. Hey, just wanted to say thanks for sharing this info. Feel kinda dumb for almost falling for this. Anyways, I like your style. Wanna colab? We’re looking for influences like you.

  15. Thanks for posting this. They just targeted a friend on insta, so I was intrigued. Keith saint laurent lol

  16. Glad to have found this article. I was offered the 50% off deal too but got suspicious when the replies were virtually instantaneous

  17. Hey, thanks for your post. Last evening I received a similar comment on one of my posts. I have an upstart blog that is barely worth a look, post pics of my 54, not too pleasant to look at self, fishing with my 6yr old or out in the woods surrounding the small mountain town I live in. In an amateur attempt to promote myself I tag a fitness band I wear and a friend’s endurance supplement company. As well as some silly ‘live your best life’ tag or similar.
    I wanted to believe but am a cynic…. a realist when it comes to my own chances as an influencer.
    Your blog was the first thing to come up for me, was a great read… although one never likes to have their fears validated.
    Cheers and thanks again.

  18. Good chat mate.
    I was also asked to colander with them!! 😂😂😂
    Like they say. If it looks to good to be true it usually is!!

  19. Like everyone else. Thanks 😊 exactly same experience, but I am on stage of wondering if they are even worth the full price but clearly not. And I have no desire to spend $100 on a watch as its half price. I will check the reviews on them and feel happy I dodged a bullet. Trying to take advantage of people who know little about fashion by saying we do, and pretending they are some decent level brand it seems. Lol

  20. You are brilliant. I also received the exact message from Pierre Arden ver batum. They were photos of my husband on instagram, which we had a good laugh about. Ofcourse we just did nothing about it. However after receiving another message today from them we found you post
    So hilarious, thank you. You confirmed everything we had thought it was. Your very funny keep doing what you doing. Cheers Renee & Pierre. ( not the auto one a real one)

  21. Wow, can’t believe this thread is from an year back. I just got contacted from Pierre Arden and the irony is I don’t post my pictures on my feed but only pictures that I click. LOL.

    Thanks for the blog, mate. Rescued myself from becoming an influenza. Sorry, iNfLuEnCeR.

  22. I wish I saw this earlier. The watch just arrived and I paid 50% of it which was around $150.00.

    Its big, bulky, crap packaging and no brand name written on it.. do not buy into the story. I wish I was more curious with this

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