Online Gift Buying Risky for Holiday Shoppers
Deceptive counterfeits easily fool the savviest gift givers.
December 14, 2016, Los Angeles, CA – The joy of the holiday season has a new twist, there's no shortage of fraudulent online sellers trying to fool you this holiday season. With over 90% of holiday shoppers planning to go online to buy gifts at bargain prices this holiday season, sellers on eBay and Amazon are working hard at selling you counterfeit merchandise.
Both eBay and Amazon have channeled their business models into online “Marketplace” retail outlets allowing un-vetted global sellers to peddle hugely profitable counterfeit goods to unsuspecting consumers. The e-commerce websites are proving to be the ideal platform to distribute counterfeit goods.
Consumers are easily deceived and unknowingly purchase counterfeit products from eBay (EBAY), Amazon (AMZN), Alibaba (BABA) and others. Unlike authorized retailers, counterfeit sellers exploit e-commerce websites strict dispute and return timelines which often expire by the time products are received as gifts. Even if available, the dispute process can be frustrating and take months for a resolution. Of course there is no product warranty. Counterfeiting is a profitable $1.7 trillion global criminal enterprise, and consumers are easily duped into losing billions on these e-commerce websites and products.
With many retailers matching website prices, consumers are better served and protected purchasing from authorized retailers says The Counterfeit Report®, a counterfeit awareness and consumer advocate. "Consider the economic and personal risk of buying counterfeit goods, and be very skeptical of any online product, unless purchased from authorized retailers" says publisher Craig Crosby.
Popular gifts are common counterfeits, including fragrances, watches, sporting goods, electronics, shoes, and cell phone cases. The vendors often disappear after the sale and before the recipient unwraps the poor quality and worthless counterfeit gift.
Could you spot the counterfeits shown here?
Shown: Otterbox Defender Cell Phone Case, Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio, Invicta Pro Diver Watch. (Photo: The Counterfeit Report)
Counterfeit products are often listed as "100% Genuine" or "Authentic" and many listings use the manufacturer's own stock advertising photo to fool unsuspecting buyers, who receive a fake. "You just can't identify a counterfeit product from a stock photo" says Crosby. Consumers can view and compare 1,000's of deceptive counterfeits and their authentic counterparts on The Counterfeit Report® website.
Consumer confidence that the websites are protecting you may be misplaced;
eBay is migrating from the auction house of garage sale items to concentrating on Marketplace sales of new items from global sellers. That move is drawing an avalanche of counterfeits from both US and global un-vetted sellers.
For example, The Counterfeit Report identified over 2.5 million counterfeit items on eBay and reported over 1.8 million to eBay for listing removal. Over 603,535 were already reported sold to eBay consumers. The sellers usually remain and often relist the fakes, and the deceived eBay buyers are never told by eBay they received a fake and may be entitled to a refund. Unfortunately, many counterfeit items are listed and sold before eBay acts to remove them.
Remarkably, buyers can’t even turn to eBay's feedback as an indication of seller credibility – eBay admits it may be altered, and counterfeit listings that have been removed are not reflected in eBay seller feedback.
Many Amazon consumers do not recognize that Amazon listings present three distinct global product outlet channels, including its 2-million Marketplace account holders who can ship counterfeit products, which are never handled by Amazon, from all over the world.
Apple recently claimed that 90% of Apple products it purchased from Amazon Direct were fake. Birkenstock, a popular sandal maker, pulled the plug on Amazon sales citing an uncontrollable counterfeit problem. Smaller manufacturers complain that their business is being destroyed by the e-commerce sites counterfeit sales.
The Counterfeit Report conducted dozens of name-brand test purchases from Amazon Fulfillment and Amazon Marketplace sellers, but never received an authentic item. Counterfeits were also purchased from Amazon Direct and Amazon Warehouse Deals.
Infringement notices were submitted to Amazon for 12,217 counterfeit items offered on the website. Despite Amazon’s claim that the listings were removed, some listings still remained, or the sellers were allowed to relist the inarguably fake items. Amazon allows multiple sellers to list against “permanent catalog page” images (stock photos) making identification of counterfeit products difficult.
The Counterfeit Report recommends, "Buy from authorized retailers, pay with a credit card, and when in doubt, compare your item to a known authentic item. Always retain the product; it is your only proof in any dispute process of receiving a counterfeit and obtaining a refund. If returned, sellers will simply deny it is counterfeit and sell it to another unsuspecting consumer."