Consumers Challenged To Detect e-Commerce Counterfeits
Think twice before buying online products.
December 19, 2016, Los Angeles, CA - Savvy consumers know to avoid online pharmacies, cheap handbags and fake watches -- no one likes to be fooled by fake or dangerous products. However, when you buy online from e-commerce websites like Amazon® (AMZN), eBay® (EBAY) and AliExpress® (BABA) you may unknowingly receive counterfeit products.
Could you identify these counterfeit products purchased online?
(photo credit: The Counterfeit Report)
Shown: (clockwise) Vans Canvas Shoe, Novartis Lamisil, Gillette Mach 3 Razor Blades, Head Radical Series Racquet, Otterbox Defender Cell Phone Case, Marc Jacobs Daisy Perfume, Bear Grylls Ultimate Hunting Knife, Apple iPhone USB Charger, Montblanc Meisterstuck Pen, Streamlight TLR-2 Weapon Light/Laser.
Price and quality were usually an indication that products were counterfeit, and most consumers still believe they can identify a fake. "That is simply not true" says The Counterfeit Report®, a popular counterfeit awareness and consumer advocate website (www.TheCounterfeitReport.com). "Consumers looking for a bargain are handing over good money for bad products at prices near retail believing they are purchasing the real thing" says publisher Craig Crosby
Think you can spot a counterfeit? "Probably not" says Crosby who reviews thousands of counterfeit products, some dangerous or even deadly. "Serious problems and hazards await unsuspecting consumers who unknowingly use counterfeit products every day that are widely distributed over internet websites, e-commerce websites and swap meets." And, the counterfeit product industry is big, very big -- expected to exceed $1.7 trillion globally this year with over 60% of goods going to the United States.
The Counterfeit Report website features products from over 250 global brands and thousands of product photos to educate and help consumers visually identify the fakes. "If it's manufactured, it's probably been counterfeited and will likely fool you." says Crosby.
There is an avalanche of counterfeit goods from internet retailers and auction websites that look authentic, but are poor quality or unsafe. Global giants including eBay and Amazon feature listings from unvetted global sellers that convey an illusion of seller credibility, and can lead the consumer into mistakenly believing the product featured is genuine or authentic. The Counterfeit Report has received thousands of counterfeit products from e-commerce website purchases including eBay, Amazon, AliExpress and even Walmart.com.
The sales technique is the same and simple; consumers shopping for "a good internet deal" see website listings displaying the manufacturer's (stock) advertising product photo of authentic everyday products; fragrances, drugs, phone chargers, sporting goods, batteries and much, much more. However, what the consumer often receives is an expertly crafted counterfeit specifically designed, manufactured and packaged to deceive them – and they are.
Buyers usually give the seller favorable feedback simply because the product arrives quickly, looks authentic and they believe it is. The products may end up as a gift and often go unidentified for a period of time, or are discovered only after the seller has vanished. Many counterfeit products are identified when the products fail and are returned to the manufacturer for warranty or repairs, leaving the consumer out their investment, without a product, and unable to change the feedback to protect the next unsuspecting buyer.
E-commerce websites have varying counterfeit policies for consumer protection. Alibaba, China's counterfeit bad-boy, requires the seller to provide proof the item is authentic, and has a new triple refund policy for selected sellers. Amazon has a simple and strong buyer protection claim process favoring the consumer, with prompt dispute refunds. Inexplicably, eBay directs the buyer to return the counterfeit item to the seller, and presents a gauntlet of obstacles including unreasonable, confusing, or illegal instructions in its challenging dispute process.
Counterfeit products are also substituted for locally purchased authentic products and then returned to retailers for a refund. The barcodes scan correctly, and when accompanied by a receipt, may go unnoticed by untrained sales staff. The undetected counterfeit is often returned to store inventory and sold to an unsuspecting consumer. Retail staffers are often astonished at the appearance and visual quality of many counterfeit items presented by The Counterfeit Report, yet the retailers can usually detect the quality differences.
Counterfeiting is a $1.7 trillion global criminal enterprise; the criminals avoid taxes, destroy an estimated 750,000 US jobs, and cost US businesses over $250 Billion annually. Illegal counterfeiting activity is profitable, difficult to track and widely unpunished. While consumer awareness is only part of the global solution, counterfeited products are now very deceptive, and consumers often unknowingly purchase hazardous or deadly products. "It's the consumer who ultimately gets hurt" concluded Crosby.