Ever ‘wish’ you could just throw caution to the wind and finally just buy all the cool stuff you keep seeing advertised from Wish? Well, I did and I suggest you read my Wish review before you do the same.

After countless adverts popping up on Facebook and actually visiting the site, filling my cart and creating endless wish lists, I loaded my banking information and mustered up the courage to press ‘pay’.

For my first Wish order, I only ordered one t-shirt – just in case something went horribly wrong.

Related: Online shopping 101 – how to order from anywhere without getting off the couch

Wish review: Are things really as cheap as advertised?

Whether it’s the 96% off written under something you know you won’t find at the mall or the thought of paying just R12 for a t-shirt, sale addicts are Wish’s biggest targets.

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But be careful – the price that lures you in, is not the price you’ll actually pay for the item. In some cases (like my R12 t-shirt) it’s not even half the actual cost of getting your globetrotting garment home.

On the checkout page, a shipping fee that fluctuates depending on the actual cost of shipping the item is charged. This meant I was actually going to be charged R37 for the t-shirt including shipping, and not R12. This cost also doesn’t include the import duties you’ll pay at the post office either, which are also variable!

I paid around R40 in import duties, bringing the total cost of my R12 t-shirt to just under R80.

Related: The real cost of online shopping

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How does Wish work?

The Wish app and online store are both very easy to use. Just put what you want to in your cart and then pay! Online shopping is pretty much the same, whether you’re buying from a store an hour away or buying from a store on the other side of the world. You click and you wait.

The waiting is the tough part. Between our unreliable postal services and fears that you’ve been scammed, waiting months for items you’ve already paid for is an anxiety-inducing exercise. Rather assume that your item is unlikely to arrive on time, may not be what you actually ordered and that you’ll be charged even more once it does arrive to get it out of the post office. That way you won’t be disappointed.

One thing you need to remember that Wish is essentially a platform with lots of different sellers offering their (very cheap) wares to customers. If you order from more than one shop, you will probably have to pay more than one shipping fee, and your orders will arrive separately.

Related: online shopping tips

How long did my Wish order take to arrive and did I get what I paid for?

After reading all the reviews, checking Facebook comments and of course following threads on Hello Peter I was relatively certain that my R12 t-shirt (which actually cost me R80) would arrive. It would be as one reviewer had commented ‘great quality’, but as another had said probably ‘smaller than expected’. So I ordered a size bigger than my actual size, and then I waited.

And I waited.

Then I waited some more, all the while tracking my t-shirt through the Wish app all the way from Guangzhou to my local Johannesburg post office by ship, airplane and car.

Two weeks later than expected my ‘mom life’ t-shirt arrived. It was good quality and smaller than expected – just what I paid for. Whenever I wear it, people comment on it and ask me where I got it from. It might have taken six weeks to arrive, but I was happy that I hadn’t wasted my money.

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Is buying from Wish worth it?

Not everyone is as lucky as I was. The online shopping horror stories are endless, however, according to the site you are welcome to return items for a full refund within two weeks of receiving them. You are also able to use the app to communicate directly with the store you have bought from or are planning on buying from.

Based on friends’ experiences with returning items or getting refunds for things that never arrived, Wish stores are pretty good at refunding you your money.

In a nutshell, don’t be afraid to order from Wish, because if something goes wrong, you will get your money back, but keep in mind that it won’t be as cheap as the advertised price and may take forever to arrive.