Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Craig Crosby
The Counterfeit Report 

Beware these Retailers on Black Friday: Amazon, eBay and Wish; Instead Purchase Directly from Companies like Kroger, Costco, Home Depot, Target, Lowes, Best Buy, etc.

Amazon Prime, Amazon Warehouse Deals, and the Fulfilled by Amazon offerings are plagued with counterfeit, fake, and replica items

 

November 27, 2020

Expensive pantyhose: On Amazon you'll never know if it's real or if it's fake

Consumers love a good deal and will flock to the internet for Black Friday bargains. However, online-shopping may be risky, dangerous, and little, if any, actual value. A Red Points survey found that 68% of consumers were worried about buying fake or low-quality goods online.

The Counterfeit Report, an award-winning consumer advocate and industry watchdog, has removed over 400 million counterfeit items offered on e-commerce websites, including Amazon, Walmart, Wish, Newegg, eBay and Alibaba. Still, the problem has spiraled out of control as website brand-protection programs are ineffective, dysfunctional, or deliberately obstructive. Over 200,000 brand-owners have signed up to fight counterfeits on Amazon, a glaring representation of the enormity of the counterfeit problem and the challenges facing consumers.

E-commerce websites are the perfect free-flowing platforms to enable and facilitate distribution of an inexhaustible supply of counterfeit, fake, and replica goods -- a $1.7 trillion global criminal enterprise. There is little consequence for the websites, and worldwide sellers operate freely while consumers spend good money on bad products.

Alarmingly, the e-commerce giants usually do not notify buyers they received a fake after receiving brand-owner counterfeit notifications, and have skirted secondary liability for enabling the sale of counterfeits.

Before buying online from the e-commerce giants, consumers should consider these facts;

The advertised bargain may be no bargain at all. A marketwatch.com study found Costco's prices 17% lower than Amazon's.

Search results and product reviews are no indication of authenticity or quality, and may not even be related to the product searched. The review systems are awash in fraud, paid endorsements, and manipulation by the e-commerce sites themselves. Worldwide scammers work to outsmart and trick ranking systems with fake reviews and ratings. Amazon and eBay block or remove negative consumer reviews. eBay blocks test purchases by The Counterfeit Report.

Amazon is a direct retailer of counterfeit goods; "ships from and sold by Amazon.com" in addition to enabling and facilitating counterfeit goods sales from unvetted worldwide marketplace sellers. Apple® reported that 90% of Apple products it purchased directly from Amazon were counterfeit. Amazon Prime membership, Amazon Warehouse Deals, and the Fulfilled by Amazon ("FBA") offerings are plagued with counterfeit, fake, and replica items. The coveted "Amazon's Choice endorsement lands on counterfeit and fraudulent products. "Amazon does not manually curate products. There is no unique safety testing for the "Amazon's Choice" products. There is no unique screening for authenticity to receive that badge," testified Amazon VP, Dharmesh Mehta.

Consumers who believe they are buying legitimate, safe products from Walmart.com may be in for a surprise. Walmart is a direct seller of fraudulent and dangerous items and allows third-party marketplace sellers to offer goods on its website. The Counterfeit Report purchased dozens of counterfeit or fraudulent computer memory cards, flashlights, and batteries from Walmart as the direct seller.

eBay has migrated from the auction house of garage sale items to a global "Marketplace" seller model. Unvetted marketplace sellers are about 80% of eBay business and can sell just about anything they want on eBay, including fakes. eBay sales figures reflect consumer purchases of over 965,000 counterfeit, fake, and replica items from only the tiny sample of products investigated by The Counterfeit Report - who received over 2,300 counterfeits from eBay sellers.

Alibaba and subsidiary AliExpress are 'go-to" websites for counterfeits and replicas and should be avoided. Both serve as a first-stop for brand-owners to check if their products are counterfeited. This marketplace model landed Alibaba (appropriately named after the fable "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves") and some Amazon websites on the U.S. Government's Notorious Markets List -- a designation reserved for the world's most notorious markets for counterfeit goods.

Consumers looking to Wish.com may be attracted to its brand-name products offered by China sellers at a fraction of retail. Shipping may take weeks, or over a month for customers who prioritize savings over speed of delivery. However, many items are counterfeit, fake, or replica products. Wish.com, a 2011 newcomer and reportedly valued at more than $8 billion, seeks a public offering. Wish built its fast-growing e-commerce businesses by offering a vast range of products that are "discounted" as much as 90 percent.

Newegg.com is an American company and direct retailer of items, including computer hardware and consumer electronics. Newegg also enables marketplace sellers, many from China, to offer counterfeit, fraudulent, and replica items. Counterfeit computer memory is not uncommon, and marketplace offerings have expanded to counterfeit auto diagnostic equipment, beauty products, first-aid devices, and fraudulent batteries. The Counterfeit Report removed over 70,000 of 93,910 counterfeit, fraudulent, and replica items identified.

A U.S. Government Accountability Office ("GAO") undercover investigation of e-commerce counterfeit goods sales revealed that about 50% of the items it purchased from eBay, Walmart, Newegg, and Amazon were counterfeit.

Consumers would be better served to shop at local retailers or online with the major authorized retailers (Kroger, Costco, Home Depot, Target, Lowes, Best Buy, etc.) offering consumers competitive purchase options for authentic products.

 

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