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Amazon Prime Day Shoppers Risk Counterfeits, Fraud, and Scams

Amazon's $139 Prime program fails to protect consumers from dangerous goods.

July 10, 2024 - Los Angeles, CA – Amazon's highly anticipated Prime Days are just a week away on July 16th and 17th, and consumers should heed a critical warning: "Buyer beware." Despite Amazon's hefty $139 Prime membership, consumers should be alarmed that it offers no protection against counterfeit, fraudulent, and dangerous product listings, fake reviews, and deceptive endorsements.

Amazon is a go-to for perceived deals, but the platform's unchecked monopoly has severe consequences. It bulldozes third-party sellers, manipulates retail partners, and misleads consumers to part with their money, all while profiting from transaction fees. The scale of this issue is staggering, with over 700,000 brand owners combatting the tsunami of counterfeit and inferior goods supported by fabricated reviews.

Amazon rarely notifies consumers that they have purchased a counterfeit or fraudulent product, leaving unsuspecting consumers with counterfeit, dangerous, and deadly items. What are the risks Amazon consumers face?

Counterfeit, Fraudulent and Stolen Goods

Amazon is a direct retailer of counterfeit, fraudulent, and replica goods, e.g., "ships from and sold by" alongside its third-party sellers. Almost half of Amazon's top sellers are based in China (the source of 90% of the world's counterfeits). Amazon's unvetted listings may be endorsed with the "Prime," "Amazon's Choice," or "Fulfilled by Amazon" labels, misleading consumers into a misplaced belief of quality and authenticity.

The "Amazon's Choice" Endorsement Is A Scam

The all-too-familiar "Amazon's Choice" endorsement is a scam. The product may be fraudulent or counterfeit. Amazon VP Dharmesh Mehta admitted to Congress that "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.".

Product Reviews

Amazon seller evaluations (feedback) and product reviews are virtually worthless. Product reviews are often no indication of a product's authenticity or quality and may not even be related to the product shown. Despite Amazon's claims of cleaning up its review system, Amazon endorses compensated reviews through programs like "Vine Voices," where reviewers receive free products, casting doubt on their objectivity. According to Amazon's website, Amazon's "Vine Voices" program gives selected reviewers the unique opportunity to order items free of charge and share their product experiences with Amazon customers to help them make "informed" buying decisions. A confusing array of online reports list Vine's cost from $100 to $2500 per unique listing (ASIN). Reports indicate that over one-third of Amazon reviews are fake, and negative reviews about counterfeit products are often removed (Fakespot).

Is Amazon "Prime" Any Real Value?

Your Prime membership includes free two-day delivery on over 10 million items fulfilled by Amazon, but not from third-party shippers. If your order is over $35, you might unlock free, one-day, or same-day shipping. However, Prime members report delayed deliveries while other non-Prime members are reporting 2-day deliveries from overstaffed and underutilized Amazon workers. Prime users will find that Amazon Prime movies are not always free, and users may have to purchase or pay for access to certain titles to avoid advertisements.

The Seller You Ordered From May Not Be The Product's Source

Customers may not receive products from the seller they ordered from, but commingled products from Amazon's closest fulfillment center. "Amazon virtually tracks different units that are identical, shipping the products closest to customers," says Amazon Consumer Trust VP Dharmesh Mehta. Sellers send their counterfeit products to Amazon's fulfillment warehouse to lend credibility and an implied endorsement by Amazon while obscuring the actual source (often China). The fakes may be commingled with authentic goods from other sellers.

Amazon is not a safe shopping choice for consumers. Even if consumers wisely avoid Amazon, they are still at risk of injury or death from other shoppers' counterfeit and fraudulent product purchases or gifts. Amazon's quest for prompt delivery has truckers moving Amazon goods around the country with catastrophic consequences -- over 75 dead and scores injured by unsafe trucking. Truckers moving Amazon goods were more than twice as likely to receive unsafe driving scores compared with similar outfits.

Amazon's unchecked monopoly may be perceived as another massive corporate entity to feel a vague sense of guilt about giving money to, but shoppers have a choice. They can avoid supporting Amazon's unchecked monopoly and opt for safer, more reliable shopping alternatives.

*Editors note: Dharmesh M. Mehta, Vice President of Worldwide Customer Trust and Partner Support, represented Amazon before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce on March 4, 2020. Mehta is responsible for and leads the team dedicated to preventing fraud, counterfeits, fake reviews, and other forms of abuse from harming Amazon customers, brands, and selling partners. His testimony about Amazon's business practices and behavior is a shocking confirmation of Amazon's reprehensible and manipulative global system of counterfeits, fraud, deception, misrepresentation, and false advertising. The Subcommittee record includes 1,287,997 documents and communications; testimony from 38 witnesses; a hearing record that spans more than 1,800 pages; 38 submissions from 60 antitrust experts from across the political spectrum; and interviews with more than 240 market participants, former employees of the investigated platforms, and other individuals, totaling thousands of hours.


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