How Wish Built (and Broke) the Dollar Store for the Web

Customers have complained to the Better Business Bureau about Wish products that never arrived or were unrecognized. France, one of Wish’s biggest markets, last fall ordered search engines and mobile app stores to remove the company from their online listings, citing unsafe hardware and other products. Wish vendors have faced lawsuits from companies such as Peanuts Worldwide, which owns the popular comic book characters, alleging trademark infringement and counterfeiting.

Female shoppers complained about being shown ads for male genitalia products. Ads featuring animated penises appeared in apps that could appeal to children, including a game called Crazy Cake Swap. The ads have drawn attention from British advertising regulators, along with an ad promising unsubstantiated discounts of up to 98 percent on sneakers, as well as ads featuring a child’s revealing bottom and a woman in a corset with partially exposed breasts.

“It’s a strategy that looks more like spam than actually trying to reach a target market,” Mx. Grigel said. (Wish said it tightens its ad controls, distributes products only from reputable merchants, and filters out inappropriate ads.)

Still, Wish, which is run by a parent company called ContextLogic, did well at the start of the pandemic as stay-at-home mandates stifled competition from brick-and-mortar retailers. But last year, as shoppers shopped more and engaged less on Wish, digital advertising also became more expensive, causing the company to cut costs. (He was said to be planning to pick up the pace this summer.)

Pressure also mounted to force Wish over the years.

Managers were constantly changing — like chess pieces, one worker said — leading to high turnover among workers who were fed up with the revolt. Many employees complained that the company was not equipped to handle the orders that came in at the beginning of the pandemic, and colleagues burned out under intense stress and long hours.

Employees said their peers were often ignored or made to wait after raising concerns about quality control issues, such as the lack of standardized product sizes for merchants. According to them, the list of weapons and other illegal products was not often deleted. Nor were there many misleading listings, such as one that purported to offer the refrigerator for $1, but was actually selling the magnets pictured in the unit’s photo.

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