Amazon isn't exactly the most trustworthy company when it comes to sussing out counterfeit items. In fact, the online retailer has often been critiqued for the way in which it handles the sale of potentially dangerous counterfeit products. However, it seems like the worst is yet to come, as it has recently come to light that a counterfeiter actually hijacked a reputable Amazon listing from a legitimate company.
According to a report by BuzzFeed's Nicole Nguyen, Apple accessory maker Elevation Lab's listing for their Anchor under-desk headphone mount was taken over by a counterfeiter using the company name "Suiningdonghanjiaju Co Ltd."
Nguyen explains that this was made possible due to an unfortunate loophole in Amazon's listing system for sellers, which allowed an ever-so-slightly cheaper, very very fake version of the Anchor to overtake Elevation Lab's own listing:
It did this by manufacturing a counterfeit version of the headphone mount and uploading the counterfeit to the Amazon marketplace using the same SKU number (a unique string of numbers attached to every unit of a particular product). Then, by listing the counterfeit at a slightly lower price, its rip-off completely took over Elevation Lab's product listing for the Anchor.
Elevation Lab founder Casey Hopkins assured BuzzFeed that the company does not sell the product to other sellers with the exception of Apple, and even went on to pen a blog post entitled "Amazon is complicit with counterfeiting" in which he essentially put the online retailer on blast and suggested simple solutions that would make these occurrences less frequent:
If you have a registered brand in the Brand Registry and don't sell the product wholesale - there could be one box to check for that. And anyone else would have to get approval or high vetting to sell the product, especially if they are sending large quantities to FBA. I imagine there are some algorithmic solutions that could catch most of it too. And it wouldn't hurt to increase the size of the Brand Registry team so they can do their work faster. Keeping sellers 100% anonymous obviously perpetuates it too, just post their business registration you have on file.
Amazon responded by saying in a statement that it removes counterfeit items as soon as it becomes aware of them, and that the company is even proactive in seeking out counterfeit items before they ever go up on the site:
When a business registers to sell products through Amazon's Marketplace, Amazon's systems scan information for signals that the business might be a bad actor, and Amazon blocks most of those bad actors during registration before they can offer any products for sale.
Regardless, the lesson here for consumers is, as always, to really do your research before purchasing anything online. On Amazon specifically, you can view who exactly is selling the product directly underneath where it says "In Stock" in green letters to the right of the product image. If a quick Google tells you that that seller isn't who manufactures the product (or a verified third-party seller of the product), don't buy. Additionally, you can check a seller's feedback rating by clicking on their name. If a seller has a low rating, very few ratings, or no rating at all, it's probably not a wise purchase.
Amazon has since removed the offending counterfeit headphone mount from the site.
Have you ever received a counterfeit product from Amazon? What was your experience like? Share in the comments.
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