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Life: A User’s Manual

Another week, another year older, but none the wiser

Written by . Published on October 24th 2011.

Life: A User’s Manual

LAST week I had a phone call from my flatmate. “A parcel arrived for you this morning,” she told me, “from China.”

“Really? That’s odd, I haven’t ordered anything and I don’t know anyone in China.”

“Maybe it’s a belated birthday surprise?”

Scammers are as crafty as they are ruthless. They often pretend to sell you something cheaper than its retail value, so they can steal your card details, or send you a worthless product instead of what you ordered, or simply send you nothing at all and buy themselves a flatscreen.

I rushed home, curious to see what gem was in store for me: a Vera Wang dress perhaps? Or a year’s supply of green tea? A Chinese orphan waiting to be loved? Turning the key, with dreams of little Chang all gooey-eyed and hopeful at the door, I looked at my feet and saw a small, grey parcel between them. It was labeled with my name, address and telephone number, but no sender information or return address. I raised an eyebrow. Peeling back the wrapping, which was scattered with Chinese writing I couldn’t understand, the ‘gift’ dropped out.

It was a rectangular, black tote bag, embellished with a print of Mickey Mouse offering a bouquet of roses to Minnie Mouse. I can’t tell you how many thoughts ran through my head at once – what the hell is this? Who on earth would send it to me? What have you done with Chang? I don’t even like Disney!


For the proceeding week, it haunted me. I couldn’t even look at it. I hid it in a cupboard and covered it with old magazines and train ticket stubs, but all along I knew it was there, an evil presence taunting me, Mickey Mouse and his cruel, laughing eyes.  

It was my 23rd birthday that week, and I had ordered a beautiful pair of Robert Clergerie shoes as a consolation prize for surviving another year without causing too much damage to myself or those around me. A silver lining if you like, on a blackened cloud of near-death experiences and shameful calamities. The shipping was free (bonus) and supposed to take just five to seven working days (from America!), but after two and a half weeks, there had been no sign of them at all. When the postman became sick of my constant pestering and morning look of dismay, I decided to send an angry e-mail to the company.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I regret to inform you that my Robert Clergerie ‘Vars’ shoes have still not arrived. I was told they would take no longer than a week and have been greatly disappointed to watch two and a half go by with no delivery. Can you please track the order and find out where they are? This is unacceptable.


Nicole Dalamagas

I held my finger over the send button, let out a satisfactory sigh, stuck my nose into the air and clicked. Nothing happened. I clicked again and still the ‘Contact Us’ page remained the same. Three more times. A hundred more times. The mouse broke. Not really, but it may as well have. Click, dammit, click!

A sudden realization dawned on me, but the thought was too terrible to bear. With feelings of dread, I Googled the name of the company, plus ‘scam’.

The company was www.Angela-Shoes.com.

To my horror, I found I had been the victim of fully-fledged, international, Internet scam. And I wasn’t alone.

“I received a package from China with a plastic Hannah Montana bag inside.”

“Do not expect your pair of shoes you ordered anytime soon, instead you will receive a MOUSEPAD from CHINA & YOU JUST SIGNED FOR IT!!”

“PayPal just sent me a tracking number that the seller sent them. So I'll prepare to receive my lovely mouse pad soon.”

Does this look like a Disney bag to you?Does this look like a Disney bag to you?

Paypal is not your pal, in fact, they should call themselves PayCriminal. Angela Shoes may look like an authentic, American, designer shoe distributor, but in fact, it is a crude cover up and Huang Lian (who the receipt is addressed to) is currently wiping his arse with tenners somewhere in Beijing. Unfortunately, Lian has a few mates there with him. They’re bathing in your money and throwing apologetic-looking Disney characters at you as recompense. Lian has got away with it time and time again because firstly, he has made his website look American ­– payment is in dollars, for example – and secondly, he has a postage receipt that he can show Paypal as proof of dispatching his ‘shoes’. Scammers like him are as crafty as they are ruthless. They often pretend to sell you something cheaper than its retail value, so they can steal your card details, or send you a worthless product instead of what you ordered, or simply send you nothing at all and buy themselves a flatscreen.

One friend told me, “Someone stole £600 out of my mum’s bank account online and donated it to the Pakistan flood appeal. Clearly thieves sometimes have a heart.” NOT.

Another ordered a pair of Vivienne Westwood shoes and received a broken Tamagotchi.

I’ve since done my research, you know, now it’s too late. But it’s not too late for you, so here are some warning signs to look out for:

- Products are usually advertised at a substantially reduced price.

- If your purchase is from an auction site, such as eBay, they will most likely have a very poor feedback rating.

- The other party will often insist on immediate payment, payment by electronic funds or a wire transfer.

- The website/seller has no contact information.

- The website/seller does not provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions or dispute resolution. 

A screen grab of my receipt to 'Angela Shoes'My receipt to 'Angela Shoes'

Other things to take note of, which are less frequently mentioned, but equally as important, are things like typos and grammatical errors. If its spelt Channel instead of Chanel, you’re probably not dealing with a real company. Real companies have copywriters. And although it may say that it’s an American or UK site, if they don’t know their ‘where’ from their ‘were’ or their ‘its’ from their ‘it’s’, it could quite likely be Huang Lian under some other pseudonym, cackling away in in his mansion, sitting on a pillow of assorted Disney mouse pads whilst a haram of beautiful slaves feed him grapes.

But jokes aside, whatever you do, do not EVER purchase ANYTHING from AngelaShoes.com. The piece of crap bag I received was most definitely not worth £140 of my hard-earned cash, or a good three hours of my time spent screaming down the phone trying to get my money back.

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