Catch Me If You Can - A Letter To Our Bikini Burglar

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 A New Era of Lazy Shoplifting?

To My Five Finger Discount Friend,

This is a letter not only to you but for my fellow online hustlers (aka e-com girl or guy bosses) and our loyal customers who we treasure dearly. From experiences that arise through our day to day lives it is important we draw lessons and take home some key reflections. If you have stumbled across this as one of my amazing Kulani Kinis customers then hello and a big thank you always for your support!

If you, yourself are a lazy shoplifter than perhaps you will glean your own take homes about how this particular girl could have executed her master plan a little better. And if you are none of the former and just curious, well heyyyyy; I hope you enjoy the story.

So I want to start by delving back into the mind of Five Finger Discount Friend...You're chilling out at home, summer is here, so you decide you need some new bikinis!! You might have found us on Instagram (insert shameless plug @kulanikinis). We have some pretty cute pieces if I don't say so myself. You click through to our store and start browsing...

You're scrolling through our pieces and I want to ask – is it at that point that you decide you are going to get sneaky...our minxy little cat burglar? Maybe you thought our swimwear wasn't affordable enough? Why should you need to pay for it....right?

Let me just stop you right there and tell you the cost of what it has taken to get where we are...years of sweat, tears, sleepless nights, anxiety, self doubt (to start...let alone sustain a brand)...then what it takes to actually create our amazing bikinis- literally hundreds of hours of work designing, painting, patterning, cutting, sewing by hand, photographing, editing, shipping, checking, packing....unpacking...all waiting in bikini land for our gorgeous customers to come along and choose each bikini's new home. Yes this was all before you found us. Sorry for the digress. Back to you.

It's a real pity that your moral compass is a little broken because you actually have great taste when it comes to swimwear. You ordered some of my faves from our website! The Powder Blue seamless one piece – so buttery, soft and great as a bodysuit. Fairy Floss is fun and super cute. And classic Latte – neutrals all day everrrrryday.

Kulani Kinis Fairy Floss & Powder Blue One Piece

Anyways we prepare your order with love, hand it over to our trusty DHL fairies who then magically transport your parcel to you within a couple of days from Australia. It is incredible, we can ship to the USA in just under 3 days. 

A few days later you send us a message via our website chat (sorry I'm not there, we are super small team and jump on there as much as we can as we LOVE to talk but we might have been running about wearing one of our other hats in the business). You leave a message asking me to get back to you urgently because something is wrong....

I'm a 'worst case scenario kind of gal' so immediately I want to know what is wrong so I can get to figuring out how I can fix it. I search your name in our back end – you have a big order (over $200 worth...gulp) and I'm worried that something has gone awry – I search your parcel tracking and your parcel has been delivered, but it was not signed for. Damn it DHL – we need the signature, that's what we pay for!

You tell me DHL gave you the option to leave your parcel with no signature if you allowed it via a text you might not be home (lesson 1 for fellow ecomm owners, you can disable this service, yes it can be frustrating for customers, but it allows them not to enable this option, and they have to arrange a different address, pick it up in person or have it delivered when they are home, ensuring they do actually get it, in PERSON).

And you texted DHL saying it was fine to leave it at your door. So they did leave it in a safe place and they showed us the text message so we trust this happened.

We confirmed that we have your correct address in our system (sometimes typos happen...) and my heart sinks. I get a sick feeling in my tummy. I hate nothing more than people being upset and I get it – you paid over $200 for a parcel, it was supposed to be on your doorstep when you got home and it wasn't...apparently.

We actually have a policy, and so do most online stores, that say once you authorise a parcel to be left – that's on you. We did our job, packed it safely, it was delivered. But it's a kinda grey area. If I ordered online and didn't get something, I'd be like well I still want it. But as you authorised it to be left on your doorstep unattended, that was your call, yet we still wanted to follow up with DHL to see if we could help.

So our scenarios, believing our customer is always right, are -

1. DHL delivered to the wrong address by accident; 

2. The DHL driver may have decided to keep the parcel for his/herself as they wanted a new bikini to tan in; (unlikely as people tend to like keeping their jobs)

3. DHL delivered it safely on your doorstep and some passerby-er decided they share the same great taste as you;

4. Or....You received it and are pretending you didn't...

I am immediately on the phone to DHL – lets open up an investigation. This is a high value parcel, and we need to find out what's happened. I'm hoping it's the wrong address by accident, DHL can go and collect it and re-deliver it.

I let you know to wait a couple of days as DHL Australia has to talk to the USA team. A couple of days later, DHL Australia tells me 'not our problem' – we were authorised to leave the parcel so that's what the team did. 

I feel horrible, parcels do sometimes go missing. I reassure you that I'm going to look after you. You tell me not to worry, you will buy bikinis at your local mall. Even after I assure you I can send another bundle (insert lesson here – usually someone doesn't want two of the same bikini, so ten times out of ten they'll ask for their money back). You start to get cranky – you don't want replacement swimwear – you want the money.

DHL in the meantime spoke with their driver who went back out and was like I definitely delivered that parcel to the correct address. Your word against theirs....'Uhhh awkward'.

Eventually after hours of me calling DHL, they offer a refund for the lost parcel....they said I can fill out a form and they will reimburse me and meaning I can refund you. But something doesn't feel right....womanly intuition....gut instinct...your direct emails, challenging me to be in your shoes...I feel uncomfortable. So I take a punt and open my Instagram and search your name. You will never guess what I find!

Ahh there is a girl with your first and last name as her user name, she lives in your state and city....and her latest photo is by a pool wearing what strangely looks like our buttery Powder Blue one piece....the same one that was in your order...I zoom in and can't believe my eyes.

Well well well....but I always see the best first in people so I'm like it's prob not ours....can't be....but we chat amongst our team and decide we are pretty sure it is. Our colours and cuts are unique....especially the shade of was a custom dyed I take a screenshot but feel way too awkward bringing it up with you...I mean how awkward would that I just don't enter the claim with DHL and leave you hanging (lesson to myself, don't doubt yourself, or avoid sticky situations).

A week later you're like where's my money? You say you're getting impatient. I try and stall....Role playing Brian whilst you get all Stewie on me... (click, watch and beware)

You email again....telling me how outrageous it is you have had to wait this long to get your money.... so I think it's time I burst your bubble by busting out your photo.

I feel butterflies in my tummy (not the good kind) as I draft the email and I check your city, your name/spelling for the tenth time and again I'm so certain that's our swimsuit on you in your photo. I even find more photos of you in the pool on Instagram. I send all of it to you via email and ask your thoughts and to let me know if I'm I figure I will give you a chance to back off... I hold my breath and hit send on gmail.

Shots fired....

But you fire back... You tell my I'm discourteous and make me feel terrible for accusing you of such a thing. You ask me who this person pictured is.... I feel like maybe we got it so horribly wrong, and I'll just refund this. That's what you want. You are escalating and applying pressure – good work. It's almost enough...

But as a team we have one final check over – to reflect on it. This time we pull up google map satellite imagery (FBI style) of your address. You live in a cool & unique area – waterways with a giant community pool – less than half a mile away from where DHL say they delivered your parcel. The plot thickens.....

We google the community pool, and 'bingo' the photos show uncannily resemblance of the photos on the Instagram account of the girl who has your name and your swimwear but you swear isn't you....

A quick google image search of the community pool gave us this image showing the pool from inside the local community club house....boy do those rocks that those girls sat on look awfully familiar...

So in summary our team did some digging...

There is a girl with the same name on Instagram as you, using a community pool less than half a a mile from your house. If I was you...I would be calling the police ASAP as there is this other girl who potentially has stolen your identity. Creating an Instagram account, taking your parcels and wearing your bikinis to the pool. And your friends are hanging out with her and thinking it is you....

How to protect your ecommerce business

The next email we fire off to you includes all the above imagery to demonstrate our detective skills (move over Sherlock Holmes). Needless to say we haven't heard back as we assume you are busy now chasing the identity thief....

Don't we all want $200 AND bikinis....ohh the life that would be. Being paid to shoplift...

We are left wondering...can one lounge in the comfort of their own home and get away with this? I guess with the new online store era, we may need to rewrite the definition of a shoplifter (read: lazy shoplifter).

How can small businesses protect themselves from these sassy bandits? On a serious note my advice is that these perps can't count on is how hard you work and savvy you are....and at Kulani Kinis...we hustle hard. Use technology, talk it through as a team and trust your instincts. And don't let what you have worked so hard for, be taken from you.

Warm regards from Bikini Land as always,

Dani & Alex xoxo


  • paul: December 14, 2017

    As they say in Hawaii five o

    “book em Danno!”

    It’s funny how dishonest folk think everyone else is stupid

    well done, a fantastic article – one of the best blog posts ever!

  • Jane: September 25, 2017

    Ohhhhhhhh this article is so, so good. I’ve had the same thing happen to me many times over when I had my clothing line and it’s incredibly frustrating! I mean, when you’re in your own brain – which is not inclined to steal – it’s really hard to understand somebody who does it without any guilt. I’m going to share your post with all of the designers I work with and thank you for posting this! It really is a terrific PSA.

  • Kate: September 19, 2017

    What a great read, and a great example of a business writing engaging, readable blogs!
    I can’t believe the cheek of this girl and so glad you caught her out.
    I’d be contacting the cops!

  • Alex: September 19, 2017

    Hi Wholly and Peta!
    Thank you for taking the time to read and respond xoxo we feel truly so lucky to have ladies like you who provide such support!

  • Whollygrail: September 18, 2017

    Thanks for sharing ladies. I know just how much effort and resources go into developing your own line of products, and I’m so pleased to hear you were able to get to the bottom of this.

    I would have approached the same way- looking to solve the problem with minimal interference for the customer and believing the information presented. A good reminder to be vigilant and inquiring. You go girls!!

  • Peta B: September 18, 2017

    Brilliant read! Had me hooked and I wanted to know how that 5 finger thief was and if she got away with it. Had me OMG’ing out loud. Nice detective work, thanks for sharing.

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