What showed up was a DVD case with a very clearly photocopied cover for a Mac version with a Verbatim CDR inside and a hacked version of the software.
Amazon processed the refund just fine but didn't seem particularly interested or concerned that they had just sold me pirated software. Not a big deal for Quickbooks, I can just buy the download version. I also want to buy a new Ipod Touch and, for the first time ever, don't feel like I can buy it on Amazon.
Long term Amazon customer since 1999, Prime since the first year, this counterfeit issue is a real problem that's going to cost them seriously if they don't get a handle on it.
Initially i though that Amazon did not store it properly and warehouse heat must have destroyed the smell. Then i saw one star reviews. For last 6 months people were complaining and getting refund for this perfume. My refund windows was already closed. Anyway, lesson learned. Amazon is a hit or miss these days like eBay.
Here is one example, 84$ Magpul sights. If you have never seen the original product, you cannot spot the difference.
edit: Added "Sold and fulfilled by Amazon"
The reviews are from fall of last year, so plenty of time for Amazon to address the issue.
The sellers mentioned are still selling the sights. So, either they were selling fakes, and Amazon doesn't care. Or, they weren't, and it was a commingling issue, but Amazon hasn't fixed the reviews....Innocent parties are being blamed.
Has to be one or the other. Either way, Amazon isn't doing the right thing.
If you buy many items from Korea or Japan, expect to get some plain plastic bag without instructions or traces of original packaging.
Sold by MSP Sales LLC and Fulfilled by Amazon.
Unless the product category or brand is "gated" (and to be fair, many are), meaning it requires pre-approval to list on Amazon, anyone can hitch onto any ASIN by telling Amazon they have that product in stock (if FBA, by sending in "that product").
Do you disagree?
>cities compete to offer the biggest tax
So it would be actually better if they did less intervening, by not offering tax breaks to Amazon.
Military housing, as long as owned directly by the federal government, doesn't pay property taxes and the residents do use local police, fire dept, and schools as well as drive on local roads. Any local or state services are fully available to to them just as any other resident. I've also personally seen both local and state police respond to emergencies at the base.
Service members can also elect to file income taxes in the state they lived in when they were called to active duty rather than their duty station location.
I'm not saying military bases don't add to the local economy, they do, just not anything like a civilian operation of a similar size.
Those aren't accessible to all the civilian workers and contractors who work on-base.
>Military housing, as long as owned directly by the federal government, doesn't pay property taxes
Civilian workers and contractors are not military, and don't use this housing. They live off-base, and pay property taxes and sales taxes. With the generous paychecks they get (relative to the locals who work at Walmart), they can afford to buy or build much larger houses and nicer cars, so they pay a LOT more in property taxes.
>I'm not saying military bases don't add to the local economy, they do, just not anything like a civilian operation of a similar size.
No, what you're really saying is that you have no clue at all what goes on on a military base, and you have some ignorant idea that everyone there is in the military when in fact it's usually a small minority of people on-base who are active-duty military.
They're pretty much universally a rounding error for total population and jobs in their respective metro areas.
Anecdotally, most of the people I've spoken to regarding this haven't even considered that something they get from Amazon might be counterfeit. Many don't really understand the 3rd-party seller system, Fulfilled by Amazon, etc.
You think Amazon is clueless? They're not. They know they're shipping counterfeits. They've done the math, and it's making them money.
I don't think we'll see a significant change unless there's a lot more bad publicity, or the government gets involved.
Or until consumers start to become unsure enough about whether they are getting legit goods on Amazon that they become wary of shopping there.
>they don't understand that's a serious crime.
Oh, they understand this well. They are a multi-billion dollar company with teams of lawyers.
But, as long as they can get away with a passive response--like processing refunds when requested--without taking too much of a reputational or legal hit, they will continue to do so. Effectively, it's cheaper to outsource the policing to customers vs. trying to vet vendors at scale.
You'd be surprised what being a big company can do to protect you from such actions by the FBI.
With the FBA situation, why would amazon even care?
Amazon will just tell the seller, "X from your inventory was just sized by the FBI, talk to them if you want it back"
The seller has no leverage against Amazon, Amazon is out no money, Amazon will just get another shipment of counterfeit widgets the next day.
No, if you have FBA, once your item enters their system, it's their item. If it's seized by the FBI, AMZ will pay you fair market price for your item they've lost the possession of, or will replace it with a likewise item.
I mean, if they had any actual idea/proof that you're the one who supplied them with the counterfeit, they'd not put it into their space in the first place; once it's on the shelves, it's all shared property, and sellers don't own any individual stock.
And, before you ask: Yes, this results in situations where 100% legitimate sellers on Amazon can sometimes ship (via Amazon/FBA) their buyers counterfeit goods. Shitty situation to be in as a seller.
They allow return of counterfeit and will reimburse you fully, and they'll have the item return to them for inspection.
If they know you've frauded before, they try and block you from the platform by fingerprinting you and your accounts.
The issue is that there's too many sellers and too many product, it's a really hard problem to solve. Counterfeit has improved considerably too, sometimes it even comes from the same factory, they call it the "night shift".
And while we try to prevent it, we also have to balance out false positive rates, not to hurt the seller's buisness without real cause.
I'm afraid most websites will suffer from this, if you want to be sure, try to buy straight from the manufacturer, but even then, make sure you double check the website, not all manufacturers sell directly and online, so that could also be fraud.
It's hard to solve under Amazons business model whilst retaining Amazons profit margins.
It's a problem they chose to ignore for a long time because they could.
while amazon will not see the individual user receiving counterfeits, it will feel the bottom line slowing down, rest assured.
edit to add: if I wanted counterfeit goods, I'd go to aliexpress and at least save a buck.
Considering the strained relationship between Bezos and Trump, I can actually see that happening.
Prior to this I got a set of grey market Gillette blades that were fulfilled by Amazon.
Like you, I've been with Amazon for nearly 20 years, but I've recently started being more selective about what I order from them. I'm surprised that they aren't tackling this more.
The long and short is that Amazon is not popular with anyone these days. They're not responsive to complaints about products from either buyers or sellers. You have to learn how to play their game. They're acting very monopolistically despite the fact that there are many well-qualified and well-capitalized wolves looking to poach their marketshare.
FBA is just so obscenely profitable for Amazon (the fees alone are huge, usually ending up to be 35-50% of the sale price, depending on the product). I think they are trying to straddle and put off anything that will cut into that margin as long as they can.
Sellers are punished for returns, buyers are stuck with an inferior product and either never notice or send in a return, which hurts the seller, not Amazon. They obviously don't need to carefully tend their reputation as they're already the default for a huge number of people, as long as they do enough to prevent a mass exodus. There's not a lot of incentive for them to aggressively pursue counterfeit sellers or put an overnight stop to it, because they're profiting handsomely in the meantime.
Eventually that will change, but it could take a long time.
Also, some Apple products are shipped and sold by Amazon, not third parties - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00W5Q06VU/ref=s9_dcacsd_b...
I'm surprised Apple hasn't taken any action against them for this.
Apple is pretty aggressive about how it combats counterfeit products, so it's not unreasonable to think that they'd pressure Amazon into to eliminating counterfeit Apple products.
Amazons response has been wholly inadequate thus far. Brands are destroyed because people get counterfeit crap and review the entire product/brand.
Why can't Amazon show the merchant used for every review and let people aggregate the reviews of each product by the merchant and product? Right now you have to check the overall merchant and hope you can trust it. This would be a good data point to watch too (if reviews for one merchant are significantly different than others for the same product). That should trigger a review of the merchant by Amazon.
Instead, Amazon conflates all product reviews as if they all came from the same place. Which is another reason reviews are hit or miss -- people reviewing how the seller got it to them, how fast, or in what condition.
Except, according from the information in the article, this doesn't matter:
> Shipped and sold by Amazon.com means that the product is shipped and sold by Amazon Retail (via Vendor Central or Vendor Express) directly. Basically, the manufacturer sends product to Amazon.com at a set price through a traditional PO process. This inventory is commingled with all other FBA inventory.
Even if you buy only items that are shipped and sold by Amazon, if those items are also _available_ from other retailers on Amazon via FBA, then the product you get as the consumer, could have come from one of those retailers, because they're all mixed together at the Amazon warehouse. In other words, you could still be getting counterfeit items when you purchase products that are shipped and sold by Amazon.
This is the same reason that, as far as I can tell, with their current logistics, tying reviews to merchant wouldn't work. They'd actually have to keep each merchant's products separate in the warehouse and _they'd_ have to know which merchant's product they sent you (which they don't currently unless the merchant opts out of commingled inventory, which costs the merchant extra).
This is all assuming I'm interpreting the info in the article correctly. One thing I don't understand is why Amazon would not keep all of their own "shipped and sold by Amazon" inventory from the manufacturers separate from ones that come from 3rd-party merchants. I.e. why wouldn't Amazon opt all of their own direct-from-manufacturer inventory out of commingling? That's the part I'm wondering if I'm understanding incorrectly.
EDIT: To further clarify my last question, it seems unwise to willingly mix products sent to you by a 3rd-party in with your own trusted inventory, such that you don't know what's trusted and what isn't. This seems analogous to allowing a SQL injection or XHR attack by not sanitizing user data on input, and then displaying it in the site, trusted as your own content without any sort of escaping.
New vendors should have a probation period of, say, a year, where they can only sell their own inventory (through FBA if they so choose, of course); then the reviews would reflect their real quality.
Amazon is extremely strict on vendor identity: you can't have multiple accounts tied to the same business or bank account or credit card -- but they don't mind if you sell utter crap or counterfeit goods. That's strange.
I bought a set of wire cooking racks that were highly rated, and the product used by America's Test Kitchen (highly rated there, too). I should have sorted reviews by 'recent', as every recent review was 1 star. The racks completely rusted over after a single use. The manufacturer had changed the metal or stopped coating the racks, presumably to make a cheaper product, and coast by on a 4+ star review from the 100s of prior, but old, ratings.
I've sold on Amazon via FBA. Yes, it does. If you are selling a new item, you ship it to Amazon warehouses. Amazon informs you, the seller, that your item is not distinct from that of Amazon's or other sellers' FBA items. Inside their warehouse, it is just an item with no seller attached to it. If someone buys it, they just find any that match the SKU (or whatever it is called) and ship it.
It was a good reminder that lithium ion batteries are dangerous. Not sure I'd trust buying them on Amazon.
The funny thing is that the Samsung website sends you an Amazon seller.
I noticed this the second time I needed a battery. The batteries look identical. The only difference was that the counterfeit battery only lasted a couple months.
Li-Ion batteries won't necessarily work after being stored unless they were charged to a specific level and stored in a very specific way. And you have to go back and check the charge and maybe recharge them regularly. More in this article:
Needless to say none of this would have happened if it was sitting on a shelf in some warehouse for 3 years.
When a product with batteries gets EOL'd and uses non-standard (e.g. AA/AAA, CRxxxx coin cells, 18650 Li-Ion) cells and/or proprietary controller chips, the specifications (mechanical, electrical and EC firmware source) must be made public.
To ensure that this gets followed and e.g. devices from insolvent manufacturers don't end up without reasonable possibility of new batteries, any manufacturer / importer of any device into the country must deposit said information at a public library/archive, similar to FCC/CE certification records.
This will come back to them one day, and hopefully soon. Obviously not all disruption is clean, in fact, it rarely is, but this is one area where they cannot afford to be lax and let things like this slide. I for one will be much more vigilant in the future about what I chose to buy on amazon and where specifically I get it.
Eventually they'll raid an Amazon DC. Losing a day of revenue will get their attention.
Only solution... stop using Amazon. Go elsewhere for everything.
Amazon seems to be acting as a counterfeit goods launderer.
I have, twice, had to return "new" phones that were obviously repackaged/rebuilt ... dust specs under the screen protector ... awkwardly applied hologram stickers on the packaging.
I have visited the shenzhen mobile phone markets several times and see what people are doing in those stalls ... I have no intention of ever buying a phone from amazon or ebay.
Only a few could get burned before the vendor is flagged as a counterfeiter which would stop further purchases. That should reduce the amount of money you could make scamming people and make it a less viable criminal business. Amazon also seems diligent in refunding people as well.
So the solution might be that Amazon should invest more in shutting these accounts down faster but I'm curious if reviews are an immediate stop gap solution here until they get around to regulating each bad seller.
So there is no way to even know who the actual seller is. Amazon could end this particular fraud literally overnight by no longer co-mingling, but I suspect that would be wildly expensive for them to do.
Your method is fine for actual accounts selling scammy things - the problem is when those accounts send in product to Amazon and Amazon decides to mix it in with the legit stuff.
Another aspect is that it's not always obvious that you wound up with a counterfeit. I've had products where the longevity was not what I expected and when I look more closely it was in fact a fake. However by that point it isn't worth returning.
It may be cheaper in terms of short-term profits (which is what they can measure), but in the long run, it could be doing irreparable damage to the Amazon brand (which is much harder to measure).
I've been an Amazon customer since they first started out as an on-line bookstore, but at this point, I'm hesitant about every item I buy (even though I haven't personally been the victim of a counterfeiting scam). At this point, I'm ready to start exploring their competitors.
Perhaps it's legit. Perhaps I could have gotten what I wanted and saved $50. We'll never know.
Right now, the only option would be a third-party service which verifies and track this, but I'm sure Amazon would shut them down ASAP. It would have to be decentralized and anonymous.
My issue had nothing to do with the product itself although I suppose if enough 1 star reviews start to build up then Intuit and other larger publishers that might actually have some leverage with Amazon will start to take notice.
You sound hesitant, but I don't think you should be. Your issue has to do with the product you received after clicking "buy" on an amazon product page. That page may say Quickbooks 2017 from Intuit, but there's no necessary relationship between what the page says and what you're buying, and when they're different you should rate what you were sold.
With no way to differentiate between product and product supplier then you're right, the review page really the only outlet I have.
but those should be reviews of amazon, not reviews of the book.
You can check for yourself. If you find two listings for the same product, you'll find that they share the same reviews. Learned this the hard hard way when attempting to buy an e-book on Amazon. I was confused with the reviews until I figured out that half the people bought the wrong version.
Commingling inventory entirely muddles things.
It's not always possible to tell you received a counterfeit, especially if you were not expecting it as a possibility.
It's impossible for me to believe that it's part of Amazon's strategy to encourage, or even allow, counterfeits -- it might be fine for a smaller company, but it appears to be doing real brand damage at this point.
Yet Amazon shows no signs of stopping it -- this has been going on for years. Is it just a really hard problem for some reason that isn't obvious? (Like you catch one seller, and they'll immediately re-register under a different name? Or false counterfeit claims outweigh real ones?)
I mean, I still can't wrap my head around why Amazon would comingle FBA merchandise with merchandise Amazon bought directly from the manufacturer, and thus unknowingly sell counterfeits directly. People say this happens, that buying "Ships from and sold by Amazon" can still be counterfeit -- does that happen really? People certainly say it does... is it really something common? It's hard to believe Amazon could be so dumb to do that... why on earth would they?
I feel like this just doesn't make sense. Amazon isn't Uber. Shady practices don't seem like their thing at all. So why is this still happening?
I believe the FBA and FMA teams are a fundamental blunder opposed to Amazon's core values (and the business model they espouse), and that while the people on them are clever, they're not very prudent.
I think that the idea could be salvaged with some genuine mea culpa and revamping of FBA/FMA systems. I just don't think anyone at Amazon with the political capital to do so understands or acknowledges the issue.
Honestly, Amazon should just send someone on the team out with $50,000 in $50 giftcards to one of the shopping centers in downtown Seattle and hand them out to anyone who orders something on Amazon for them (on Amazon's dime; shipped to Amazon HQ). Will you get a disproportionately high number of bad purchases? Yep.
But that's sort of the point: isn't it a problem if a large fraction of 1,000 people know how to get bad purchases out of regular items, but you still operate your store that way?
It's also a good explanation of Apple's non-response to their increasingly poor software quality and their de-facto abandonment of the content-creator market.
I've been a seller for about 6 months (in Europe) and their systems are quite bad.
When you call support, most of the time the person on the phone, while very polite and "competent sounding", gives you advice that does the opposite of what they say it will do. When you point it to them they say "hmm, let me check" or "I'll get back to you" and then you talk to an "expert" who many times isn't sure either of what to do.
The problem is not that support is incompetent; the problem is nobody's sure how the system actually works, because it's too complex with too many layers added on top of one another.
I really think the system was built for a much smaller operation with fewer sellers, and it is now stretching beyond capacity. They have a huge team of people maintaining it but that only goes so far.
I mean, they clearly don't have a handle on a wide variety of bad actors in their ecosystem, but keep putting out awkward attempts at solutions. This suggests they're trying to fix perceived problems, but are avoiding the core of the problem because they either don't see it or don't have the political will to fix it.
Its expensive to check each good if its counterfeit. I think an easy solution would be to require all new sellers to put up a bond and slowly decrease the amount required as they become more trusted. Amazon is big enough to demand this and trustworthy enough to not abscond with the bond money (unless they are caught with counterfeit goods).
I've been aware of it too, but speaking for myself, I don't remember any mainstream or tech news stories about how it's been impossible to trust Amazon until just recently.
My theory: It's a big company, with lots of inertia and perhaps arrogance, letting things get worse and worse, until it reaches a boiling point, which is now.
Ummmm... Is this sarcasm? They are so shady "Amazon controversies" has its own Wikipedia page!!
You're buying some item. You're in New York City. Other websites sell it for $20. You go on Amazon.com and see that it's $14.99, here's where #1 comes in. Why is it so low?? In our scenario, let's assume "Fugazi FBA seller" just shipped in a bunch of counterfeit merchandise into Amazon's warehouse in Tennessee that cost them $5.00, $14.99 is a major win for the seller.
Now, Amazon matches the price at $14.99 and you buy it "ships and sold by Amazon". This is where #2 comes in. You're a Prime member. You expect to get it in 2 days. You're all the way out in NYC. The closest warehouse that has Amazon's legit inventory is in California.
Amazon says, "Hey we need to get this customer his/her item in 2 days. It's way FASTER and CHEAPER, if we just pick one unit from Fugazi FBA seller's stock that's in Tennessee and ship that out." - #2 and #4.
Once this product is end-of-life or Amazon can't source it, #3 comes into play and Amazon stops selling it "ships and sold by Amazon" and sellers (legit and illegitimate) are left to fight it out.
Then commingling is just a logistics trick, it makes inventory more liquid and so lowers costs and shortens delivery time.
Amazon likes to think of itself as the arbiter of a fair marketplace between sellers. It's not that they don't care, it's that they are proud of doing things the way they are.
It is important to understand that FBA largely pushes the administration and supply chain overhead down to small time individual resellers, utilizing their willingness to do free labor.
Amazon encouraged this behavior, gave blind eye to counterfeiters, and making ecommerce too hard to ignore for mfgs to compete on directly.
IP has never been efficient to enforce, old school exclusive/protective contracts masked this, but now the emperor has no clothes.
There is eBay that is a big player and allows anyone to distribute products. These days 90% of sales are done by professional in fix price format (not an auction).
eBay has a proper reputation system, sellers are clearly identifiable and so is the location of the product.
Amazon doesn't do any of that on purpose.
If Amazon keeps down this track it's going to kill the golden goose for eking out that extra tiny bit.
Or well, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. It's impossible to figure out where a product will come from.
I see two sellers offering an iPhone charger, ostensibly genuine and new, as low as USD 3.19.
Compare with the Apple listing for the same item for USD 19:
There is no way you can be selling the genuine product at that price and be making a profit. I don't know what Apple's wholesale price for chargers is, but it is presumably more than USD 3.19.
Amazon has lost at least two orders from me recently because I had no confidence that I would receive a genuine product.
I sell on Amazon via FBA and the counterfeiting and scamming is unbelievable. I'm glad to see these stories come out to raise some awareness because Amazon has done nothing to fix the problem.
Had two of them in the past 3 months ...
For phone accessories, I'd recommend sticking with a reputable 3rd-party brand. Anker, Puregear, IXCC, and several others make good-quality chargers and cables.
Am I missing where the ad says it's a genuine Apple product? I see that it says "compatible", but that's clearly a fake to me. Not that it wouldn't trick some people, but I can't really blame Amazon for that. It's a knockoff.
I think if someone goes onto Amazon and buys a phone charger for half the price of a genuine charger, that's a different problem than paying for and receiving a "genuine" charger that turns out to be fake.
It's not an entirely fair comparison since aria specialises in technology but when they do that and match price then Amazon has no competitive edge.
In the past few months I received much more price drops alerts than ever before. Most of these are by new stores that have no reviews.
Knowing that I'll be covered by Amazon, and tempted to give what I guessed would be a scum a chance, I ordered two items from different stores and as I expected I never got the items. Eventually got a refund from Amazon.
I'm not sure why Amazon isn't putting more effort to prevent these stores from popping up. Most of them I've noticed publish dozens if not hundreds of items for ridiculous prices. Even a simple capping mechanism for new stores would have made this much more difficult than it is to set up this scum.
While Ebay does not excel in that regard either, it does cap new sellers sales volume as well as allows buyers to report suspicious activity. Ebay's algorithm isn't especially smart - I often notice stores that were inactive for years yet retain good feedback record, pop up back to life with new low priced supplies and eventually turn out to be a scum (most likely hacked accounts).
After receiving a chinese knock off card instead of the real thing, I complained to Amazon. Even after rounds of communication with them, trying to alert them to the problem all they did was tell me to contact "Trading Standards" (the uk body). I've barely bought from Amazon since then, and I used to buy a lot from through them.
Instead I reached out to Intel Legal, who looked over things, then opened an investigation.
Now (some months later) it seems like there are almost no counterfeit Intel cards on Amazon. So at least some places do seem to have enough clout.
Obviously using Intel branding (there are other photo's in the same directory, mostly just other angles though).
Amazon didn't care.
People visiting Amazon.com intending to buy various items:
a) want the shipment and customer care to be handled by Amazon. (Since they have showed that they area really good at that kind of thing)
b) want to have the goods vetted for basic safety etc etc.
Basically, Amazon needs to rewind/rebrand/remove its second-supplier Bazaar style listings from its main index.
Maybe the could display a two column search result page? Most people have wide screens now. Amazon-handled to the left, rest of the world to the right.
is fulfilled by Amazon.com, but sold by tooldeals. Tooldeals ships the product to an Amazon warehouse, and Amazon handles all of the selling and logistics.
If Amazon were to eliminate the FBA program, their vast product selection would be greatly curtailed.
Exactly. So the mystifying thing is: why do they keep making it harder and harder for the consumers to do so? My thought: the have no fucking clue. They are not A/B tester ninjas, but rather clueless idiots.
Edit: Perhaps some additional manual effort to protect good sellers would stem the bad PR tide. The news stories all seem to start with a frustrated seller.
Scammer would buy something like an iPhone, take out the phone, fill the box with clay or something, send it back to Amazon.
Amazon just accepts the huge majority of returns and the seller is who gets hurt. (Obviously matters much more to companies not the size of Apple)
Pretty much any marketplace (including banks and credit merchant accounts) puts the vendor 100% at risk for consumer fraud.
Want to know how truly bad it is?
Look at this listing:
Wow, seriously that is insane.
Amazon's crazy to let that happen with zero oversight.
Amazon's reviews are crap. Amazon's inventory control is crap. Amazon's seller support is crap. The only things they have going for them are good customer service and a near monopoly on online sales.
Walmart, however, also has great customer service, has brick-and-mortar stores that will help you deal with problems, and now has free 2-day shipping. I've been making a conscious effort to do more online shopping there lately, because Amazon needs to feel like they have a little competition.
Jet.com also does third-party sellers, but I hear they are very strict and work hard to make sure that all their sellers are authentic.
Amazon has made itself the de-facto e-tail platform. We're already seeing a Google-like effect from them, where if Amazon is not happy with you, your business can be destroyed overnight. There are consultants similar to SEO consultants who try to ensure that your products always "win the buy box", some of which is certainly done through attempting to hit competitors with false negatives as you've described, much like the negative links that competitors try to register against one another to hurt their Google ranking.
I really hope that some of the other players in this game can get together and do something to stop another monopolistic pre-eminence. Between Shopify, ShopRunner, Walmart, and other brick-and-mortars who are jealous of Amazon, it should be feasible to create an Amazon-ish experience that will at least keep one or two other big competitors in the game. Let's do it before it's too late!
You will find that what appears to be wide availability is usually 2 or 3 third-party vendors spamming the same thing multiple times to multiple sites. This becomes especially apparent once you actually order something, and it takes 2 weeks for the vendor to say it's not in stock. Repeat that process across 4 or 5 major sites like amazon/jet/walmart/sears/newegg/etc. and it gets a bit tiring. Seemingly everyone now has a "marketplace" section and purposefully makes it difficult to filter it.
Basically it seems the "long tail" of on-line retail shares the same very few number of marginal-at-best players who take an approach of spamming tons of low quality listings in the hope of fulfilling even a fraction of it.
Once you look for it, you notice this pattern (e.g. a spelling mistake in a given part listing you need) quite often and realize it might even be a single "root" vendor after you get through the chains of middlemen.
Reviews are long-lived, that pricing info is probably out of date in a few months, but the review will live on for a while, and lead to confusion (Especially since, I assume your reviews were well written, giving them more credibility, and thus leading to more confusion)
There is also the problem of confusion over price of a product and its legal implications... if you go to a store that relies on box stickers for pricing, and the stickers only have a price, and there isa box there with a wrong (lower) price on it, the store has to sell it at that price in most states... im sure the law wouldnt kick in over a comment, but you cant blame amazon for guarding against the swarm of people who's sole purpose in life seems to be to get one over on other people
Its another to list actual prices of various products side by side in a comparison chart, that data becomes stale real fast and is factually inaccurate at that point.
There is a vast difference in saying "For $500 I expected more" and saying "Product a works out to $4 per plumbus and product b works out to $3.50 per plumbus and product c works out to 3.75 per plumbus" ... that data becomes factually misleading as soon as one of those prices changes.
Please dont take this as an insult, but you are saying you'd rather be stupid than ignorant...
They've been fined lately a bunch of times for improperly shipping hazardous materials that have injured people.
Are you sure that it is counterfeit? 80% is a common charging cutoff point for Li-ion batteries to minimise wear-and-tear. Usually it is enforced in software.
I'm not sure what they are thinking here, to be honest. I don't want to use another eBay; I stopped using it entirely due to scammers and paypal. I previously had some trust that Amazon was buying and reselling genuine products, and I no longer do.
If FBA was restricted to original manufacturers who provide their own inventory, I'd have little to complain about. But thousands of unknown vendors acting as yet another middle man and pushing cheap counterfeit crap add no value at all, in my opinion. They do nothing but tarnish Amazon's reputation.
Yet, beyond that, counterfeits and scams are rampant on the platform. Scammers take advantage of genuine seller's good rank, insert themselves at lower prices, destroy the genuine seller's revenue stream and deliver cheap knock-offs or even dangerous products to unsuspecting buyers.
And past that, Amazon does something really crazy. They allow anyone to leave reviews on any product, whether they purchased the product or not. All you need is an Amazon account. You don't even need to have ever purchased anything at all. You don't even need to have a verified credit card on file. And so, what happens is that there are scammers using fake bad reviews as weapons of war to knock good sellers down in ranking and capture what would have been their sales. And, again, Amazon does not care.
On Amazon's advertising platform there's a similar issue. They will charge sellers for any click on ads. This means you don't even need to be a verified active Amazon user to click on ads and burn seller's advertising budget with zero ROI. Amazon does not qualify any click on their ads. Logic would say a seller is only interested in genuine Amazon users. A simple definition of this might be someone who has had an Amazon account for N months, has purchased an average of N items per year/month, has a credit card on file and has had product successfully delivered to their address. Seller's are not interested on clicks from someone in China hired to burn through their ad budget. Again, Amazon does not care.
Not sure where this mess is headed but these issues need to be addressed or it will get really ugly.
How does leaving a bad review for a product have any effect at all on the ranking of a seller? Reviews for a product are wholly unrelated to seller reviews.
You are allowed to leave feedback (including a star ranking) for sellers, but that option is only available from the summary page of your actual order, i.e., it is not possible to rank/review a seller without having purchased from them.
The only reviews that should be permitted should be from actual Amazon customers. They should also be weighted based on what I am going to call "karma". By this I mean that it should not be possible for someone to setup an account, buy a product and then leave a 1 star negative review within a few days.
We have seen reviews posted before the product was delivered to the buyer! In addition to this, the buyer's "karma" needs to have an element of seniority validation. Someone who has been on Amazon for ten years and regularly buys products is not likely to post face reviews. Someone who just joined Amazon 30 days ago and only bought a handful of products should not be trusted.
Non verified reviews should not be allowed at all. The key word here is "review", which should mean "I bought one, I used it for a reasonable period of time and this is what I think of the product.".
Reviews also need to have a certain amount of minimum time from purchase built in. Say, 30 days. And, within this time, sellers ought to have access to buyers in order to try and make it right. In other words, just like a Walmart customer would when buying something from the store and don't like it. There's an opportunity for excellent customer service here and Amazon is not allowing it to happen.
That's a review. An unverified review is a fairy tale. It's fake. And it can be fake both in a positive or negative direction.
Amazon needs to put in basic provisions in order to ensure that reviews are from actual buyers with enough "karma" to be trusted.
As bad as it sounds, I dismiss most reviews unless the punctuation and grammar is correct.
I generally just roll the dice with Amazon on anything that is not food or electronics. The convenience trumps the money wasted on buying a bad product.
For electronics, I've looked at Walmart and Jet.com which have shady 3rd party sellers that are worse than Amazon sellers.
I believe BestBuy gets all its inventory from authorized sellers so I trust them, although they have limited selection.
I haven't found a solution for food (mainly specific branded supplements like magnesium/vitamin C/etc. that can't be found in regular grocery stores)
The ideal situation would be if Amazon didn't conmingle its "Sold by Amazon.com" inventory with 3rd party sellers and charged a premium for it (to make it economically feasible for them). Right now the current incentives aren't pointing in that direction.
Most customers don't know about the conmingling. If we could spread awareness of conmingling, the economic incentives could lean in that direction.
The news media's response is probably just as much to blame - they're more interested in writing fluff pieces about Amazon's hypothetical drone delivery than in informing the public about the current major threat to consumers posed by Amazon's policies. I'm willing to bet a lot of customers have received faulty counterfeit goods and don't even realize it.
This also underscores one of the problems with quasi-monopolies - once they feel they have a captive audience, they're only more than happy to screw over their customers in order to make a bit more money. If everyone gravitates towards one company, we end up in a very precarious situation when the company invariably decides that we have no where else to go and then can do whatever they want to us.
I can really only see three solutions:
1. We just buy everything direct from the supplier. Companies like amazon manage distribution.
2. We provide tools to allow the consumer to track the supply chain process. Products shipped with unique QR code, printed at the of manufacture? Users able to verify that this product was actually manufactured by the stated supplier. Could be an interesting startup idea?
3. Consumers get better at evaluating products on their own merits. Verifying battery capacity, performance etc.
3 is basically what you have to do if you purchase anything in Shenzhen markets. You can't just trust a particular supplier, or even that one batch has the same performance characteristics as the last.
1. The central authority takes pressure of the manufacture to build a verification system.
2. They could provide a single unified interface to consumers. Single QR validation app etc.
3. They could help track a product though resales. Which maybe more in the consumers, rather than manufacturers interests.
4. They could proactively investigate counterfeit claims. Potentially across different product lines.
We're now at the stage where we provide effectively a full supply chain solution. It works like this:
1. Product company has an issue like this and contacts us
2. We work with the factory, setup our quality control hardware+software.
3. The product company defines all of the procedures for validating that a product works and is legitimate. All of those are performed by our team on the China side. Individual units are serialized with QR codes and photographed and videoed during inspections.
The combination of unique QR in our system and natural markings on products is usually enough to validate authenticity. We have a few other systems we use to further validate the product, but on a high level and as the most cost effective part of our solution, this already helps far more than doing nothing.
We've helped prevent a large amount of fraud that was previously occurring for some customers. Interesting to see this start to become a larger issue on Amazon's side.
4. We're currently working on moving the serialization and validation to more steps in the supply chain, continuing to validate authenticity + quality closer and closer to the customer.
Then again, this is the same company that fell prey to Nigerian spammers. Wouldn't go near any of their products as they definitely have some roomtemp IQ's in that joint.
I really don't get how you can get fake product into you own fulfillment chain. But I guess if you sign off on fake invoices that could happen. :)
I want to know more about this. I'm not interested in buying from companies that have a tradition of having abusive or exploitative relationship with their employees, whenever it is possible to do so (I rightly acknowledge that its pretty hard to do. Almost every large company has been sued or been reported to have some sort of x y or z issue with their employees. I also try to be judicious about how I make exceptions. Its hard nowadays.)
Its one of the reasons I walked away from amazon.
edit: for what its worth, googling around with various search terms led to not much. The Glassdoor ratings also showed up at 4.x out of 5 (can't recall the exact number). So i'd be interested to hear more about it if you have anything to share
Once company I follow on glassdoor, after having an average rating of 2 for years has been getting a new 5 star review once a week for the last 2 months. This seems to be how companies get round any filtering glassdoor has in place, they slowly post good reviews over a period of months.
I wouldn't trust their review averages. Maybe look at the baseline number of negative reviews, and see if the comments seem valid.
The thing to do with any kind of rating system like this is to weight the positive reviews far less than the negative reviews. Also read the positive reviews with a critical eye; the ones by "plants" are usually somewhat obvious.
Yes, it does sound like a fantastic opportunity! How would it work though? Every single instance of product would have to have its own id that would "expire" as soon as it's verified by an end-user, to prevent counterfeiters from copying a number and running with it?
Even then, it would be possible to copy numbers from products not yet delivered, and use them on counterfeits. Or you have to have a destructive process to reveal the number (like a scratch-off).
There would still be many ways to cheat: opening the boxes and replacing the genuine product with a fake, or the used market, etc.
Still, an interesting problem!
We already do serialize each unit for customers. So when cases started appearing like this we would also apply another code to the box the unit is placed into. Our system then associates both of them - taking photos of each when that occurs.
This prevents the changing of what unit is in a box.
Peeling off the sticker is actually pretty easily prevented entirely by the photo, humans aren't very good at placing stickers exactly the same way as they're initially applied. Compounded by our use of self-destructive stickers where possible.
A few thing could be used to prevent copying. Users could be allowed to register a name on the verification page. If you try and register a product and it's already registered you know it's fake.
I don't think it would work in every instance. But it would increase costs to the counterfeiter. Hopefully to the point that it becomes economically unsustainable.
Unfortunately the hard part is getting everyone along a supply-chain to participate in a new tracking standard that could easily reveal valuable information to competitors. So it's probably not going to be adopted except in cases where counterfeiting is an obviously greater threat.
I bought a new, high-end, fulfilled-by-amazon kitchen aid mixer for my ex-girlfriend. It looked legitimate, but it had clearly been re-boxed at some point, was missing parts, and had grease all over it. IIRC, it wasn't sealed in a normal way either.
Amazon accepted our return, and like you I just went straight to the manufacturer to make the purchase again.
I got refunds but nothing beyond that, even with in one case offering evidence that this looked like deliberate fraud due to half-cleared SMART stats.
i purchased clearly counterfeit bicycle brakes whose bolts were mystery metal. that's a legitimate safety issue; having a bolt shear off under braking load is very possible, and the results are pretty catastrophic.
amazon didn't especially care.
We use SAS drives so, unfortunately, we can't do the "buy the cheapest external USB drives from Frys and strip them" trick.
However, it is very, very hard to buy a new hard drive on Amazon if it is more than a year out of introduction. After a year or so, all of the "new" drives on Amazon have widely varying SMART statistics and lifetime gauges. We very, very regularly get entire batches of "new" drives with thousands of hours of use on them.
I would really like to name and shame specific sellers but I am traveling now and can't dive into old email threads. I keep meaning to do a blog post, etc.
In egregious cases, we return/refund. Other times, if we get a big batch with sub-10k hours on them and they all pass our very strict burn-in process, we use them.
It's actually quite difficult to buy a genuinely new 4TB enterprise drive right now and in 6 months that will begin to be the case with 6-8TB drives, etc.
Basically the same reason everyone uses amazon, for everything.
If we get a really wacko batch, the return is very, very simple.
The practice of selling "new pulls" (supposedly new drives that are removed from new servers by end users that wanted different drives installed all along) is rampant everywhere - not just at Amazon. The problem is that a lot of "pulls that are not new at all and are actually just used drives" drift into that channel. And, of course, all of them are sold as "brand new".
Amazon excels in short term thinking on this subject, I wonder how long it will take them before the coin drops.
The worst is it's actually getting harder to filter things to make it return only things that are actually sold by Amazon itself to avoid scammers. At least in Canada it seems they've removed options to filter it down to Amazon as the seller. Basically have to guess-work it by filtering it to "prime" or "free shipping."
To link this back in to the original comment, I bought what was clearly a counterfeited Spyderco directly from amazon. They didn't seem to care, but did refund me. (The knife sharpened extremely easily - VG10 is a tough stringy steel that takes more than normal effort to hone)
I won't buy new knives from anyone but the manufacturer anymore.
Edit for clarity: Most fakes were unstamped or generic Solingen/Sheffield stamps. Most branded razors pre1900 are authentic. Only a percent or two of those produced were fake. Still makes authentication difficult. And to make it even weirder, some fakes were actually better made than the brand they were being sold as!
Buying fake food and health products is dangerous.
I don't buy pet food from Amazon either for the same reason.
I just realized the other day that some wifi cameras I purchased in 2010 are knock offs!
As usual in retail, there are a lot of resourceful people gunning for Amazon. I'm optimistic that we won't have another Google-like situation for the long-term here.
Amazon seller / vendor here with over $5MM in annual sales.
We sell to both Amazon directly and fulfill via FBA when PO's are delayed due to their archaic purchasing system.
Let me tell you guys what the real problem is, you ready for it? CHINA
When Bezos opened up the platform to Chinese sellers in 2015, they FLOODED the market with not only counterfeit items but straight illegal business practices (the notion of piggybacking on listings and selling an item for 50-90% less than normal and never actually shipping a product until they get banned. Rinse and repeat).
The other side of the problem is the American consumer: I want it fast and for as cheap as possible. Some of the worst customers are in the US; they "rent" products and return them used and incomplete before the 30-day return window. Even worse, during Q4 when Amazon gives them 90-days to rent something for free. The American consumer is a big part of the problem and Bezos and friends simply know how to take advantage of this and bump up their bottom line for shareholders.
Amazon DOES NOT CARE because they take fees on each purchase sold by the Chinese trolls.
And like someone previously stated, before a major tier-1 brand gets burned hard, nothing will change.
Apple doesn't sell to Amazon, they don't need to. They have their own channels which are incredibly successful.
The small brands suffer and they suffer simply and purely because of the Chinese.
Most (>95%) Chinese sellers are cancer to the platform. But the consumer is seldom damaged because of Amazon's (still great) customer service.
Get rid of the Chinese and most of this will be resolved. Joe Blow isn't counterfeiting products and selling them on Amazon. At least 9/10 times.
The solution is two-fold:
1) Severely limit anyone without a legitimate US-based company (registered entity, taxed, EIN, etc) to sell on Amazon. Further, require bonds, throttle traffic, limit the number of ASINs "new sellers" can list on, initiate tariffs for non-US sellers (government can only do this).
2. Consumers simply need education that buying on Amazon today is a different game. Their risk is high and the reward low. PR and articles like this help but more consumers need to educate themselves on what is happening. But this is not easy - when you want the cheapest possible price, you're going to the new Amazon Bazaar.
So the mindset of the American consumer is flawed and Amazon plays into this beautifully. They're not stupid and they know exactly what's going on.
There are many technical comments here and they are all righteous. But the problem is a very top-level problem. It is simply the Chinese. Period.
Limit the Chinese and Amazon will be the Amazon of old.
Chinese (or any non-US) sellers should absolutely NOT be allowed to sell anything on Amazon.com. They don't pay income tax and this is simply another loophole Amazon has found in their domination of cheap e-commerce.
This doesn't happen anywhere else in the world. If you sell a product in Europe, you're on the hook for VAT, import taxes, etc.
Not the case in the US of A.
Big systemwide changes are needed.
As an aside: Shit will definitely hit the fan soon and Amazon will start to feel it. But it will take time. Their brand is already suffering due to this counterfeiting mess and it's not getting any better. As someone who used to buy everything on Amazon, I don't buy much anymore. I'd rather go to the brand's site and purchase directly or a brick and mortar.
As a consumer, you may want nice things, but most people want cheap things, Amazon is a business, they just want to make maximum revenue. If they're making profits operating this way, it will continue and unfortunately, maybe the competition is catching up too quickly to turn it all around.
I have family who actually buy from Alibaba because, they know it's dirt, dirt cheap, consumers love paying the lowest price, even if it means damage to society and in my opinion, Joe six pack doesn't give a damn about "quality". They don't care, so log as they're getting $5 dollar bed sheets.
How will Amazon change that?
One-day delivery is nice, but I'd rather wait a couple weeks and pay extra if it means getting an authentic unit.
Or is it that news articles seem official, while HN comments are off-the-cuff? It does seem strange to me that journalists treat internet comments and tweets as worthy of publication, but it seems to be a well established practice now...
I don't post on FB because it's me. But I am not cautious on HN and write more freely. I always knew it could get in the public but once I saw this article I knew it could - did - happen.
But srsly, I was just eyeing the new third edition. Thanks for the warning!
Amazon even shows that I purchased this version, https://www.amazon.com/Art-Electronics-Paul-Horowitz/dp/0521... for this price, but mine was sloppy copy.
I now buy direct from manufacturer or brick and mortar.
Is this really necessary though? Lots of manufacturers don't sell directly to the public anyway, and more importantly, Amazon is not the only internet retailer out there. There's tons of them. It seems like it's really better, in fact, if Amazon goes belly-up and we get more competition and more strong internet retailers to choose from, instead of having one giant one dominating everything.
Just one anecdote: my (now-ex) wife really liked some kind of sea salt from Sardinia. (Yeah, I know, how different is sea salt from Sardinia from sea salt from any place else?) Anyway, she uses a lot of salt, relatively, and we had moved so she couldn't buy it from her regular little Italian market, so I looked online. Amazon had it, but it was rather expensive per jar, and that was from some 3rd party seller. (This was probably around 3 years ago, before Amazon really went down the tubes.) So I did some Googling and Froogling, and found a website that sold nothing but imported Italian foods, and a lot of it. I bought a couple cases of this salt (both fine and coarse grain) for dirt-cheap prices, less than half the price on Amazon, and much cheaper than she used to get it for locally. She also added in a bunch of other items that were also very cheap because this retailer was the importer and was cutting out middlemen and not having to pay for an expensive storefront. To me, this exemplifies what internet shopping should be like: specialty retailers that cut out unnecessary middlemen, have excellent selection, and don't have all the problems that B&M stores have (location, limited hours, having to travel there, high rents, etc.), and are able to pass these savings to end-users. Amazon, by contrast, seems to exemplify the worst of capitalism: one single company able to take advantage of efficiencies of scale and brand-name recognition in order to capture the majority of the market, not specializing in anything, and providing a mediocre-to-bad experience overall, but no one else being able to compete because the barrier to entry is too high.
Remember, Amazon's long-term goal is to take over the world, and it needs to do all sorts of things to get there.
If I'm publishing a book then anyone else that wants to sell that book in large quantities must register with me and get my sign-off. Large quantities being somewhat vaguely defined.
Even when I bring it to Amazon's attention, I only get my money back half the time. When I tried to file a claim with my credit card company, my buying account was temporarily banned until I paid back the money (for counterfeit goods that I actually got inspected by the manufacturer and had the paperwork to prove it). The big problem is that Amazon will only give you your money back if you can prove it. It can sometimes take 5 months to get it actually inspected (if you are lucky) and by that time, you are well past the time to return it.
The worst part is that it nearly destroyed my business. I got two cease-and-desists in 8 months because I wasn't able to catch all of the counterfeits in time. Myself and my staff are well versed in catching these counterfeits, but it's still a very difficult task.
I had to hire an attorney, and I sent all of the sellers' info to the attorney of the manufacturer. I was lucky it ended here.
To this day, I still can't sign up with an Amazon seller account because 5 years ago, a single customer complained about an item I sold them. I returned their money promptly and even paid for a return shipping label. Amazon support didn't care. My account was closed, and I was out $500, because the buyer never sent it back to me. They no longer will even talk to me about it (all emails go into a black hole as if I never sent them) and I can't even manage another person/companies account without getting it permanently banned.
This is why it's so dangerous to allow a few companies to control so much of the Internet. They can potentially ban you from even making a living and there is really no appeals process. At the time, they had a few automated prompts that claim it's an 'appeals process', but I could tell it was just a bot.
I still don't understand how so many of these sellers can sell counterfeits, which is illegal in the US, and make multiple accounts, with almost no issues.
It has to be some sort of collusion with employees. It really doesn't make any other sense.
Why does it seem like people lose their sense online? If you're not buying from the manufacturer or a seller you're familiar with, do some research.
And don't buy from anywhere outside the Western world. The rest of the world is rife with liars and counterfeiters. There are still some here, but they are much fewer and are almost always trivial to distinguish.