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Amazon's policies promote counterfeiting (elevationlab.com)
433 points by hop 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 223 comments



Apparently, the US Customs and Border Patrol is in charge of seizing counterfeit goods.

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/cbp-interce...

I wonder if contacting US Government representatives to ask them to have CPB investigate Amazon warehouses as a nexus of counterfeit goods would be useful.

I bet if CPB officials raided an Amazon warehouse and went through and seized all counterfeit goods in the warehouse, Amazon would quickly find a solution to this problem.


Full disclosure I work for Amazon (on the web services side).

The author of this article clearly doesn't know much about selling on Amazon, because what he is asking for is possible. It's called the Amazon Brand Registry. You can contact the infringment team using the details here and initiate the process of getting your brand / ASIN locked so that other people can't sell it without your permission: https://www.amazon.com/report/infringement

Also check this out: https://services.amazon.com/brand-registry.html

If you have a popular product then counterfeiters are unfortunately inevitable, but you do have options to fight back and stop them.

There is also Brand Gating which is a little harder to get. Look up ASIN or Brand Gating for information. Basically you can order the counterfeit product and report it to Amazon. It can cost a couple thousand in legal fees to register your brand and get all the paperwork unless you are capable of doing it all yourself, but it is possible.


You really think the author of the post (me) doesn't communicate regularly with the Brand Registry team? Day 5 for them to do anything on this latest one.


>There is something extremely simple Amazon could do about it. 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.

This isn't going to work because companies will lie their pants off to prevent distribution. I've personally had false IP complaints from multiple billion dollar companies, which are submitted under penalty of perjury, and I know of other companies that do the same.

What you should do is buy up their entire stock (it's FBA, and seems like not a lot of stock) and file not as described complaints with notice@amazon and also cc seller performance, then return as wrong item.


Have you looked at Amazon Transparency as yet?

https://digiday.com/marketing/amazon-grows-transparency-prog...


Hmm what about brand gating then? Have you been able to try that out?


Almost everytime we contact them, we ask them to lock our products down. It's a mystery how sellers get Brand Gating, but there is plenty in the forums about it. That's part of the reason this was written, hopefully someone there can do something about it.


Hey man, this is a bit off-topic for this thread, but I have to mention that I got one of the Elevation Lab Anchor under-desk mounts when they were on sell for like 10 bucks a week or so ago. It's great, it works better than I was expecting (my main concern was the longevity of the adhesive, but I did some research into the 3M VHB and it's legit!)

Now for the part that's not off topic: to remind myself how long ago I bought it, I just clicked on the product link from my order confirmation e-mail from Amazon. I landed at a listing for the product, but "Sold by suiningdonghanjiaju Co Ltd" (not making the name up). That's not right I know for a fact that when I placed the order it was listed properly as "Sold by Elevation Lab". I just clicked around some more and eventually I got to the listing that is "sold by Elevation Lab" but both of those pages have the gray 'you bought this item on...' box at the top. That seems.... off that doesn't pass the sniff test.


For Amazon it's the same product from different sellers. And hence the confusion to the customer when there is fake counterfeit products mixed up.


Since you work on the web services side it's forgivable that you would think that link to reporting infringement is an effective solution / something that Amazon pays close attention to. We've sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of product on Amazon, found a company selling a counterfeit version of our product, and submitted a complaint to that URL. That was on 4/5/2016. We have yet to receive a response. The only solution we had was to call up the infringer and tell them to stop, which they luckily did.

But, as I said, from the outside, that report link does seem like a viable "option to fight back"; in reality, it's a customer support black hole.


Gotcha. Yeah I don't sell on Amazon myself or work on the retail side so I can't speak to the effectiveness on that side. It sounds like something they need to improve upon.

Have you looked up Brand Gating too? My (admittedly limited) understanding is that Brand Registry is step #1 and Brand Gating is the next level beyond that: https://www.helium10.com/blog/selling-on-amazon/brand-gating...


Yes, we looked into Brand Registry -- this is my first time seeing the Brand Gating, which looks like it would solve this problem. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

In general, I think there's frustration for smaller companies and brands that Amazon (understandably) doesn't retain resources to support individually.


From my own experiences, and the various answers available on Amazon forums, Brand Gating is a black box. There is no one you can talk to in order to request it, and for now it seems to be an invite-only program.

Somewhat perversely, someone claimed on the forums (I’ll try to add the link if I find the topic), that one way to get brand gated is to buy up the counterfeit products being sold under your listing/ASIN, and document and/or send them into Amazon. It seems that until you’re being widely counterfeited, there really is nothing you can do proactively.

Amazon has been an overall net positive for our company, but the difficulties of trying to get a knowledgeable person to answer pressing questions usually create headaches for me at least once a month. Even as a large volume seller through Amazon Vendor Central, we’ve been given boilerplate legalese about needing to provide photocopies of the certificate of our trademarks in order to initiate DMCA takedowns of stolen or copied images and text. As great as Amazon is for consumers, the vendor support can often make you feel like you’re howling at the wind.


why do you need to provide photocopies to initiate DMCA takedowns? I thought one of the complaints about DMCA was that it was ridiculously easy to do to someone, but Amazon has made it difficult for you? I wonder if it would be easier for someone not selling through Amazon and thus not dependent on them.


You'd think this would be an unnecessary step, since we provided a link to the USPTO filing, and we provided our incorporation documents when becoming a vendor.

The issue with the Amazon case management system is if you encounter a customer service rep who has no idea who you're talking about, there's no way to escalate the support case at all. There's no live person to talk to. So, you end up playing roulette, often having to submit the same case multiple times until you get a rep who is able to help.


I recently got reorged into brand protection.

you can probably get somewhere by messaging seller-performance@amazon.com


There are tons of new tools for brands that were launched in 2017 to help brands proactively prevent this sort of behavior.

Apply to the brand registry with your trademark info and you’ll have access to tools to proactively protect your brand.

Amazon is taking this sort of behavior very seriously and has added systems in place to help prevent this.

In addition to the brand registry you might also want to check out their transparency program.

https://digiday.com/marketing/amazon-grows-transparency-prog...


Is anyone else disturbed that somebody would create a throwaway account just to defend Amazon practices in this submittal's comments?


No. Despite it being a defense, sometimes its not worth shining a light on yourself or maybe they just don't feel comfortable speaking out.


I wonder what would have happened if you filed a lawsuit against Amazon?


Great question! Answer is, you have to have a legal team the size of Mercedes Benz:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/wadeshepard/2017/12/05/amazon-g...


Why is Amazon not actively seeking out patterns of counterfeiters and suggesting this to sellers.

Just doing simple image machine learning should get 90% of scammers.

He AWS team is great about this. Looking for abnormalities. Looking for posted AWS keys. Proactively. The retail guys need to get some of the cloud guy smarts. Or ethics. Either/or will help stop this.

I don’t sell, but I can barely buy from amazon because of all the scam copies and fake reviews.


I second this strongly. Have basically stopped shopping from Amazon entirely.

Haven't ever read a single word from Amazon to reassure me (as a buyer) about counterfeits. At least nothing beyond completely cookie cutter PR stuff that my brain just dismisses.

Let's see some stats. Let's see some action plans. Let's get all these sellers' horror stories out of my various feeds. Where's all that?


> Let's see some stats. Let's see some action plans. Let's get all these sellers' horror stories out of my various feeds. Where's all that?

Not sure if you're aware, but Amazon's doing pretty OK by all publicly available signs. To the extent what's bothering you is even a real issue, it's not bothering anyone else enough to stop them shopping on Amazon. I doubt Amazon feels much pressure to post action plans to satisfy the tiny minority of people who have strong opinions about this issue.


Ultimately this harms them. People said the same thing about Comcast sucking for years. It’s finally starting to catch up with them and will take decades to go out of business.

See also other shitty companies that made money.


https://www.google.com/search?q=comcast&safe=off&rlz=1C1CHBF...

? I mean it may be true that they will some day go out of business. In fact it's all but certain. But I don't think you could really say it's because of effect that is visible today.


You are right that Amazon clearly does not feel pressure to satisfy the tiny majority that care about Amazon selling counterfeit goods.


I see this sort of complaint ("I can barely buy from Amazon because of all the scam copies and fake reviews") somewhat often online, and I don't understand. I've placed 15 orders in 2018 so far (76 in 2017), and I've yet to find a detectable fake. (One of those things was even a printer toner cartridge, which I halfway expected to be fake given the stories you hear.)

What are people buying and receiving fakes of?


Anything and everything probably, it can be seen even in reviews. I was looking up some gloves and often the reviews are split 50/50 between great and complete garbage. I assume that the unlucky half got counterfeits. Recently I have bought some plastic plates to put under a flower pot. The dimensions were completely wrong: as in, the advertised plate was for a pot of 22 cm in diameter and this was even printed twice on the plate itself - it was not even 18cm large. This was on a product with over 4.5 star average.

I still buy stuff on amazon because returns are very simple, but I got into habit of immediately returning anything which is not good enough. I feel that most of the stuff one can buy there is garbage.


Everything! I mean everything! There's fakes of literally everything. Including items you wouldn't think would be profitable to fake.

Books, CD, electronics, baby products, stationary, personal care products including condoms, toys,...

Take a look at this cup. Would you know if Amazon sent you a fake if it's your only Yeti cup? http://www.wideopenspaces.com/fake-yeti-ramblers-on-the-rise...

Many/Most of the time it's going to be difficult to tell unless you have the real version already and do side by side comparison.


This is reminding me every PHB who ever said, "it'll just take a day or two." "It's just a little machine learning."


I agree in general, but literally all you have to do is reverse image search new product listings against existing products and then add a call out to manually review this. This isn’t even complicated stuff.

To get fancy you could compare against the millions of known frauds and apply that to new products.

The thing that bugs me is that they do nothing. This stupid “it’s all on you to register your brand and yadda yadda” would be cool if they also coupled that with a ton of effort and smarts to stamp out counterfeiters.

I mean they run mechanical Turk, they could just manually review shit.

They should keep a running log of how they think this is important and all the things they try.


You are missing the point. They are not creating a new product that is a copy of the original, they are registering with Amazon as a supplier of the genuine product, but shipping counterfeits into the warehouse. They are then pricing their counterfeits dynamically so that they always get the “buy box”.

There’s no machine learning to do. The only way to find the counterfeit is to inspect each shipment by hand vs a reference sample to determine if it’s legit.


“The only way to find the counterfeit is to inspect each shipment by hand”

This is basically what the Amazon transparency program is. Is tracks each item from manufacturer all the way through to your door with unique code scanned along the way. You can use the app to see where it came from.


This tells me why companies do not leave decisions on just developers. If we were in a company, someone had developed a machine learning app by now for a problem which needs no ML in the first place.


If an existing seller is listing the product that already exists. It can be examined against other listings and be reviewed. If it’s a brand new seller then interview the seller. It’s not perfect but will provide incremental improvement.


I think the point you’re missing is that the normal course of business for most products is that many distributors compete to sell the same item on Amazon. Go look for example at Canon cameras, you will see 10-15 different legitimate sellers all offering different prices, all on the same detail page - you have to click through to “this item available from xxx sellers”

If you’re interviewing sellers, what do you ask them in the interview? “Are you selling counterfeits?” What are your grounds for allowing them to list an item?

If you want to inspect a new listing, what do you want to inspect? Maybe you inspect the first shipment. Fine. People will figure that out and send a small first shipment of real items, then start sending fakes.


If simple image matching is effective, scammers will just rotate/warp/tint their images. These techniques might also take the legs out from an MT approach. Sellers might also get a product online with one image, then later change to another/reorganize the album.


Wouldn't that be a good thing? Buyers will see those slightly off images and it will set off red flags.


Perhaps, but that’s harder than you think. Look at all the shit Getty does to find images that have alters, changes, stuff like that.

My point is that they aren’t doing anything. You point out a couple of edge conditions as a reason not to try. Even reducing fakes by 20% would be great.

If this cost Amazon money they would be trying to stop it.


it's pretty cost effective for the counterfeiters to be mechanical Turks, or pay people to be mechanical Turks.



Amazon is in fact searching for and proactively blocking counterfeiters by using image searching, machine learning, etc.

There are literally multiple teams with lots of software engineers working on these problems.

Currently entry into brand registry is a requirement for these programs. You would be shocked to see the head count and money Amazon is spending in this area, they are investing heavily.


Since you appear to be an actual person working at amazon and there doesn't seem to be a way to report mass scams, I would appreciate if you could delete all items with the keywords "18650" and "9800" or "9900".

"18650" is a type of lithium battery and capacities above 4000 mah are technically impossible.

Usually the batteries with lower rated capacities are fake, too, but at least this would get rid of the most blatant scams.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Da...

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Da...

There are also many examples of fake power banks, but those have varying form factors, so you'd have to calculate the volume or check the weight to make sure it is technically impossible.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3...


i'm glad to hear that, and i assume it comes from personal experience, but do you have links to any public information about it?


> simple image machine learning

When did this become an acceptable statement?


A couple years ago.


Do you understand that this would have to be something that works reliably, at scale, and can be debugged? The exciting blog posts you've read are not going to solve the whole problem.


getting input data for counterfeiting is difficult. A good amount of bad actor behaviour is really easy to detect; customers will notice almost certainly notice if their package doesn't show up.

Counterfeits however, are difficult; somebody has to notice, and care that the thing is a counterfeit, and if this is the first time I'm buying one of these anchors, how am I to know how nice the seams are supposed to be? if it works, I'm happy.

To get around image section though, all you need is a real box of the thing. you can just buy a bunch of it and repackage, and sell the original separately.

(just for reference, the cloud guys are relying on us for a lot of their detection, not the other way around)


> Why is Amazon not actively seeking out patterns of counterfeiters and suggesting this to sellers.

Why would any company spend money to decrease their revenue? I have yet to see one company that does not test the boundaries of the legally permissible to maximize profits.


Because it behooves them to be a trustworthy platform for sellers but specially for buyers.

As a buyer I want to know I can trust what I'm buying is what I believe I am buying --and sellers don't want their brands tarneshed. Once bitten twice shy.


One of Amazon's leadership principles is Earn Trust

It's why their customer service has always been recognized as one of the best.


Did you read your own link?

"We do not enforce ... Detail Page Ownership ... Exclusive or Selective Distribution."

As long as the counterfeit is good enough, don't bother complaining:

"Other sellers can list their items for sale against pages that you have created or added your copyrighted images to. However, we do require sellers to list only against detail pages that exactly match their items. If you believe sellers are listing against detail pages that do not exactly match their items, we ask that you report the violation directly by using the contact us form."

Why do the counterfeiters get to use your own picture of your own product? Because Amazon claims the rights from you:

"Additionally, when you add your copyrighted image to a detail page, you grant Amazon and its affiliates a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right to exercise all rights of publicity over the material."

And that brand registry? Does it mean your brand is yours? No, it's just 'increased authority' ...

"increased authority over product listings with your brand name"


> Why do the counterfeiters get to use your own picture of your own product? Because Amazon claims the rights from you: > > "Additionally, when you add your copyrighted image to a detail page, you grant Amazon and its affiliates a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right to exercise all rights of publicity over the material."

IANAL, but that sounds very thin. Maybe it would hold up under copyright law, but that seems dubious. What if the party agreeing to that contract doesn't have that right in the first place? But all this ignores trademark law. If that image contains a trademark and the trademark is used improperly, then the cause of action that the trademark owner has seems like it would have nothing to do with "publicity".


And then your tiny business can initiate a trademark action against a multi billion dollar company with more lawyers dedicated to defending trademark actions than you have entire employees.

A remedy that is impossible to get in practice is no remedy at all.


Brand Registry is the first step to applying for brand gating which does stop other people from selling your ASIN on Amazon: https://www.helium10.com/blog/selling-on-amazon/brand-gating...


This should be the default.

"Suzi Hixon - Private Label Lawyer - Providing strategic business and legal guidance for the proactive protection and enforcement of your Amazon listings and private label brands."

How bad must be the Amazon problem be that there's an industry dedicated to trying to deal with it?


This is wrong. A counterfeit is technically a trademark violation and you can file a complaint for that.

If you sell on Amazon and also sell elsewhere and someone got their hands on a legitimate item, they can sell using your images.


Amazon's approach here is, IMO, both BS and odd-seeming from a business perspective.

Once upon a time, I could go to amazon.com and buy things from Amazon. I trusted Amazon to sell legit goods. But now if I go to amazon.com, it's bizarrely difficult to buy from Amazon, and a large fraction of the goods sold seem to be junk. And Amazon presumably made considerably more money selling things that they sourced themselves.

So why doesn't Amazon go back closer to their original model? I wouldn't mind seeing a strong built-in preference for genuine Amazon listings and a very clear indication that I'm about to order from some random-ass seller.

(Also, I'm quite surprised that there hasn't been a giant trademark infringement and/or copyright infringement lawsuit against Amazon? Amazon.com de facto sells all kinds of counterfeit goods. I wouldn't be surprised if a judge wouldn't let them hide behind the "it wasn't us -- it was a third party" defense.)


They make more money getting a cut from people who do take the risk of selling online. This is probably the biggest contribution/problem of the modern web economy; it offshores risk and effort onto others and just provides venues and processing. No one wants to open a store, they want to be mall owners, but with barely any real upkeep for the mall.


Amazon doesn't want to be in the retail business, they want to be in the logistics business.


Amazon is and wants to be in the retail business.


They make more money being a platform and logics company thank they do being a retailer.


Is filtering products to only sold by Amazon not safe anymore?


Nathan, we own a Brand that's in Brand registry, don't wholesale, and hold trademarks on the unique products. Guess what? We still get people on the brand. We're told that others can't list on it (at least as new), but it still happens. It's a nightmare.


Your post comes off as quite condescending to me.

> The author of this article clearly doesn't know much about selling on Amazon

Or alternatively, maybe they know more than you do? Especially since the core of your advice is "use the Brand Registry" which the post already mentioned and which, according to your own link doesn't even do what you claim?


I have actually worked with people to pursue this and we got nowhere. The counterfeits just came online under a fake upc and amazon wouldn’t take any more action.

We gave up and just tell customers anything with our brand on amazon is a fake.


All you have to do is make another listing under a similar name, buy some fake reviews to pump it up, and sell it for cheaper than the real one.


It’s not a simple as you make it out to be. Amazon launched a new Brand Registry last year and all the companies in the previous version were dumped and told to re-apply.

Source: I’m a seller on Amazon and I actually bought one of these counterfeit headphone holders.


This is quite a ridiculous comment, which, sorry, isn’t surprising coming from an Amazon employee.

I too sell on Amazon, and I registered my brand with Amazon. I also have a design patent for the main object I’m selling.

Direct counterfeits can get blocked, although you have to send an email to each marketplace (I’m in Europe), and then Amazon stops the sales but doesn’t remove the listing.

But listing hijacking is hard/impossible to get rid of. I have a hijacker who sells a different product (different shape, material, color, and quantities) who’s been sitting on my listing for over 2 weeks, and Amazon won’t do anything about it. « Seller performance » wrtites back canned emails saying that they don’t communicate the result of their investigations... one doubts there’s much investigation going on.

Brand registry is absolutely useless.

The main problem is, Amazon thinks about its marketplace as something where multiple sellers compete on price selling the same items. It doesn’t want unique listing for unique products by unique sellers/manufacturers. It doesn’t like the idea, and it will never spend ressources to enforce it.


> which, sorry, isn’t surprising coming from an Amazon employee

This is in fact a little unfair (can't edit anymore so I reply to myself). In my experience Amazon employees are very courteous and want to help; the problem is, they usually don't know how the system works and can only read back policies (that are otherwise available to anyone -- we can read!)

Maybe it's just a lack of training (not their fault), or maybe nobody really knows how all the parts of the system work together. Anyway it's incredibly difficult to get a clear answer.

And seller performance is the worst, because they never answer or do any follow-up.


Amazon is the new eBay as I like to say. Ever try searching for a Chromecast on Amazon? The number of Chinese counterfeits available is staggering.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_6?url=search-alias...

And since Amazon profits from these third party sellers they are complicit.


That's a special case because Amazon intentionally hacks their own store to block people from buying Chromecasts.


Not only does Amazon intentionally hack their own store to block people from buying Chromecasts, but they also junk up their search results with Chromecast knockoffs just to make sure their customers have the best shopping experience.


Those don't look like counterfeits.


https://www.amazon.com/Display-Wishpower-Receiver-Miracast-A...

Wishpower is the brand, yet Chrome logo. Supports Airplay, I thought that was Apple exclusive? 2.3 stars.

Does seem odd to me, unless by some coincidence they licensed the Chrome logo from Google and Airplay from Apple and then also happened to get badly reviewed.


I tend to treat listings that say "this isn't a Chromecast" as cheap knock-offs, not counterfeits. The logo may be a trademark infringement, but I'm iffy on calling it counterfeit.


Of course they do. Not only do they copy the form factor of the version 1 and 2 Chromecasts they also copy the Chromecast logo and even place a G in the middle to further try and trick users. These 1 star reviews of the following copycat show just how easily people think they're buying a real Chromecast.

https://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B075KDML13/ref=acr_se...


Well, the top listing is manufactured by "Wishpower" so I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it's probably not Google.


It plays "High Defination" video so it's probably better than Google.


That listing explicitly states "this isn't a Chromecast".


No ?

Let me find the first 10 links matching "Chromecast". [1]

ONLY the 1st and 3rd links don't have misleading/deliberately confusing or outright stolen trademarks on them (but they aren't chromecasts). Examples include the "G" on 5 and 6 in the font Google uses or the Youtube logo on 7. Examples of outright stolen trademarks include links 2, 4, 8, 9 and 10 all have the Chrome logo.

For completeness, the (only) actual link to Chromecasts on amazon is here [3].

The first and third links are weird, as in they're an entirely different product category from a Chromecast. Why are they even in there ? They are very much not chromecasts.

I would like to point out that if you are looking for a Chromecast, ALL of those products will be sorely disappointing. 1 and 3 don't even support streaming web content to them in any way, and all the others are chinese wireless display mirroring devices, some are even low-res versions.

None of them have anywhere near the compatibility or functionality that Chromecast provides. If you buy these and expect them to do what a Chromecast does, you'll be sorely disappointed.

If this is what happens to Google, imagine what will happen to you on Amazon to the inventors of fidget spinners, or those cubes. The web is full of articles and forum complaints about fake products on amazon. Link to the trend [2].

Links when searching "Chromecast"

1. Fire TV stick with Alexa ...

2. Wifi Display Dongle,Wishpower HDMI 1080P Mini Display Receiver TV Miracast DLNA AirMirror Airplay for IOS/Android/Windows/Mac

3. Roku Express | 5X more powerful HD Streaming (2017)

4. WiFi Display Dongle,Wishpower 2018 WiFi Wireless 1080P Mini Display Receiver HDMI TV Miracast DLNA Airplay for IOS/Android/Windows/Mac(New Version)

5. 2018 Cymocho G5 Wireless Wifi Display Dongle, HDMI 1080P TV Receiver Adapter, Support Google Chrome for YouTube Miracast Airplay DLNA TV Stick for Android/ Mac/ iOS / Windows

6. Wecast E68 Wireless Wifi Display Dongle TV Receiver Adapter 1080P Full HD support Google Chromecast for Netflix YouTube miracast airplay DLNA TV Stick for Android/ Mac/ iOS / Windows

7. 1080P HDMI Adapter Wireless Display, PTView Miracast Dongle, 2.4G Streaming Media Share Player, Mirroring Receiver TV Stick, Airplay Dina For iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Samsung, LG, Android, Smart Phones

8. WiFi Wireless Display Dongle Receiver 1080P HDMI TV Stick Miracast Media Streamer for Phone TV Support Miracast & Airplay & DLNA

9. WIFI Display Dongle, WiFi Wireless 1080P Mini Display Receiver HDMI TV Miracast DLNA Airplay for IOS/Android

10. Miracast Wireless Display Adapter,Iphone Dongle 1080P Hdmi,TV Receiver Stick,Toneseas Streaming Media Player,Airplay DLNA for Ipad Macbook Laptop Samsung Android Smart Phones - Business Gift

[1] https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3...

[2] https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=amazon%2...

[3] https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015UKRNGS


Fortunately, if you search 'fire tv' there are no counterfeits in sight.

Curious that Amazon enforce their ban on Chromecasts so much better than their ban on counterfeits.


There's quite a few bits of trademark infringement, but they're not calling themselves Chromecasts in the title nor the manufacturer field.

When I think "counterfeit", I think listings like this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008ALAAV0/

Manufacturer: Apple. Title: Apple. Reviews: "arrived broken", "opened it up and it was fake", "Apple said it was a fake", etc.


Please, please, please try to communicate to the people you work with how important this is. I've lost all confidence in buying electronics from Amazon. I'd rather shop at walmart and bestbuy because I'm more certain I will get what I order.


You didn’t even read his post before replying. He specifically mentions Brand Registry.

Sad to see this poor level of attention to a well written customer complaint from Amazon.


Although i agree with the sentiment, Hop makes one mistake in this article. She claims that inventory is returned when deemed counterfeit.

This is often false. Counterfeit merchandise "may be destroyed" according to Amazon's help docs, and often is, from my experience.


The author specifically talks about Brand Registry and why it doesn't solve this problem. Did you read the article?


Instead of shaming the OP for ignorance, you should be contacting the OP and providing this information before it ever got to the point that this blog post was needed. The shame should be on Amazon's side.


A little over a year ago I listed some garments from my girlfriend's clothing line. Unless someone broke into our garage and stole the stock, then no one else could ever sell these products. I created the listings, did the brand registry, and we still were not able to get the Buy button on the listings. Something about not being an established seller, and that other sellers might come in and offer the same product. If that wasn't dumb enough, we also weren't allowed to buy advertising for three months. So amazon wanted us to just kick back for three months, paying the seller fee on products that no one will find and that don't have a buy button.

So, I completely agree with the headline of this article. The whole listing process was catered to listing existing products, and the policies did not make sense for sellers who completely control their product.


My experience is that the brand registry is used by manufacturers to prevent others from selling their product so that they can artificially inflate the price. Why would a company whose products aren't being sold on Amazon need to register their brand there.


Classic techbro. Knows virtually nothing about selling on Amazon; happy to accuse a retailer and author of a detailed blog post of not knowing much about selling on Amazon.


Did you read the article? It says right at the top:

> There is something extremely simple Amazon could do about it. 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.


I ordered an instant pot on amazon. instant pot box shows up, with mfr.s packaging.... I opened it and similar-looking - but much cheaper - chinese knockoff was in box.

if amazon's customer service wasnt so good i would have dropped them already. (I know it's not them making the mistake, but still..)

however I buy stuff there much less frequently now since i have no way to know if I'm getting counterfeits for certain types of goods.


This is a really important point that Amazon seems to completely ignore: counterfeit goods aren't just a ripoff, they're downright dangerous. A fake instant pot could burn your house down or scald you when it fails to depressurize properly; a fake phone charger could overheat and catch your bedsheets on fire; a fake smoke alarm could fail to detect smoke properly and not activate in time to save someone's life.

I can't believe there hasn't been a slew of lawsuits over this, especially in the highly litigious culture of the US. Could I just be mistaken in thinking this is such a serious problem? Or has Amazon just been lucky?


This is why after having a kid I shifted my purchasing 90% from Amazon to 90% from Target even though I have to drive 15 minutes to the Target. Amazon was the lazy mans approach.


I'm amazed some of these brands haven't sued over the reputation damage they're likely taking. It's really remarkable Apple hasn't.


Agree with the rest, but the US is not highly litigious, common misconception, probably created by corporations trying to defend themselves from "frivolous lawsuits".


Out of curiosity, what countries are more litigious than the US and why? I've always been told that the US is unusually litigious, but if I'm wrong about that I'd like to know better.


In this list, the US is #5, curiously having more lawyers per capita. https://www.clements.com/resources/articles/The-Most-Litigio...


It's strange that a company sells its customers counterfeit goods, and we still praise them for "good customer service."


Is it?

Customer service is independent from the primary business transaction being executed.

They are fucking up but compensate through good cust. Service.

Seems like a policy decision, as fighting it costs more than the break fix


You can't call this good. They are fucking up on purpose and have made a calculation that most people won't notice and it's cheaper to refund the few that do. That's terrible customer and feels very unethical.


> most people won't notice

if a customer doesn't notice it's a knockoff, then it's not a knockoff?


Go look at the atrocious reviews of chinese knock-off power supplies. I mean, they might not burn your house down, so we're cool, right?


Calling them "Chinese" knock-off power supplies is xenophobic and/or racist. The top-quality authentic power supplies are just as Chinese as the counterfeits. Same set of factories make all this stuff, but the counterfeits use cheaper materials and skip components.


Saying the truth is racist now? Are these cheap knock-offs Chinese or not? China remains the main source of counterfeit goods. This is a fact.

> Counterfeit goods are estimated to amount to approximately 12.5 % of China’s total exports and over 1.5 % of its GDP. This results in estimations that 72 % of counterfeit goods currently in circulation in three of the world’s largest markets for such products, namely the EU, Japan and the USA,have been exported from China.

https://www.europol.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/...


If I take money from your bank account and you don't notice it's not theft?


It is.

Good customer service should start with not selling customers counterfeit crap in the first place. Instead, the phrase "customer service" means something extremely specific, i.e., a good return policy for customers who realize they've lost at Amazon's game of counterfeit roulette.


To me, "service" encompasses the entire experience of dealing with the company. A company that makes mistakes and fixes them quickly shouldn't be considered better than a company that doesn't make mistakes in the first place.


"A company that makes mistakes and fixes them quickly shouldn't be considered better than a company that doesn't make mistakes in the first place."

If the mistake is their normal way of doing business they should be rated as bad.


If the overall cost, including cost of returns and bad goods, is lower than the cost of buying higher-guaranteed stuff elsewhere, it's a net win.


It is borderline criminal. If they were not such a large organisation they would be charged with facilitation. They are knowingly allowing the sale of counterfeit goods.

You go down to a street corner and sell knock-off Prada bags and you will be arrested. You let someone sell counterfeit goods from your store and you are an accessory.

This will only change when Amazon are held accountable.


> if amazon's customer service wasnt so good i would have dropped them already.

I'd consider it good customer service if every time I had to return a counterfeit I got a 25% credit of the original price to cover my time and frustration, but that still leaves problems with undetected counterfeits - and of course it'd never happen because Amazon would have to eat the cost because commingled products mean they can't track it back to the supplier anyway. Oh, and yes I mean EVERY time - 25,50,75,100,125,etc. If I get 5 fake items, Amazon pays me 25% of the original cost. That's what it'd take to make it worth the hassle.

At this point I basically won't buy through/from Amazon unless it's something impossible to counterfeit (e.g. ThinkPads) or where I don't really care because I'm not looking for a brand or significant quality anyway.


What part of selling a fake and probably dangerous appliance is good customer service?

My favorite thing about Amazon is that they screw up and ship me things that I don’t order a few times year.


Thats usually a sign of getting someone trying to get fake verified reviews.


> I know it's not them making the mistake

It is absolutely Amazon making this mistake. They are responsible for their supply chain, and customers have higher expectations of them then they do of a flea market.


Amazon bills itself as a flea market. It's the "Everything Store".


>if amazon's customer service wasnt so good i would have dropped them already.

And this is why Jeff Bezos is sitting on (maybe) the biggest pile of money anyone has ever had, and why counterfeiting is not a problem Amazon will ever be interested in solving. It doesn't matter. People either don't notice that they've wound up with a counterfeit, or they don't blame it on Amazon. They just return it or write it off and remain customers.

...this and AWS.


The writer advises people to "look at the seller," but Amazon's commingling of products means that doing so is often useless. I believe I've also seen mention that there's a way to prevent that by assigning your own numbers and paying Amazon more, but for something like this where there is only one legitimate supplier I'm not sure it would do any good. (edit: NathanKP posted relevant links as I was posting)

What's amazing to me is that these days I'd consider eBay a safer option for a lot of purchases - at least there I know what seller I'm dealing with.


When I learned of the commingling they do I changed my mind about using FBA to list some products. It has also changed my mind on products I purchase when I see others are selling it FBA. Though I still use Amazon a lot, I have also increased my local shopping for products I would previously have just purchased from Amazon.


You need not pay Amazon to label your products with your FNSKU to avoid commingling -- sellers can do themselves with a printer and tape. Amazon simply offers the option and charges $0.20/unit to do it.


But if you're already the only legitimate source for that SKU what do you do? If a counterfeiter orders one of your items then duplicates the packaging including the SKU/UPC will it get commingled with your product even if it shouldn't?


> The writer advises people to "look at the seller," but Amazon's commingling of products means that doing so is often useless.

Only if the seller is Amazon or fulfilled by Amazon, since those are the only ones affected by commingling.


Counterfeit products [1] and scams [2] are persistent problems on Amazon. It's very unfair to the legitimate merchants who are trying to compete without screwing over customers. They've been yelling at Amazon for YEARS to do something about this. Presumably Amazon decided that making it harder to sign up as a third-party seller would hurt their metrics more than it would help customers.

[1] https://www.inc.com/sonya-mann/amazon-counterfeits-no-starch...

[2] https://www.inc.com/sonya-mann/amazon-fraud-scam-sellers.htm...


I have absolutely started to reduce my purchases on Amazon due to my lack of confidence in what I'm going to be getting. The counterfeiting issue is real and serious.

At this point, I trust that if I go to the trouble to ensure it's not "fulfilled by amazon" and I'm buying from the actual seller, I'll probably get a legit product. Otherwise, I have no way of knowing what I'm going to get.

I continue to be mystified why Amazon doesn't view this as a huge issue.


Really enjoy this post and the reactions of it. I also have been looking around on Amazon for small furniture and some other small products, but as a consumer, a great deal of research is needed to detect fakes or sub par products.

If you know what you want to buy, you are indeed best off buying directly from the product creators site and not get tempted by far cheaper alternatives amazon suggests... Birkenstock is a great example of this where it escalated https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/12/22/birkenstock-...


I think this is a pretty big deal and has been for at least a few years, yet there have been no repercussions for Amazon yet. It feels like it should be illegal to enable this kind of thing.


I think Amazon should go back to just being a bookstore, maybe seller of indie items, kind of like that etsy-like nichce and focus on AWS, which is their clear cash cow at this point.

This whole being an "everything" store thing is a drain on them, and a drain on our economy. Plus they aren't exactly winning in some of the categories they thought they would be now -- groceries for example -- Walmart has shown they will fight to the absolute death on that, and I don't think they can win in that space (buying Whole Foods was a nice gesture, but Whole Foods reputation was fading from that "cool grocery store that has all this organic stuff" to "just a really expensive grocery store" especially once all the other grocery stores started carrying organics).

Of course the kicker is if they can release their fully autonomous drone fleet. Which may be what, 10...20 years off after sorting through FAA regulations at the minimum?


But wouldn't having a lot of consumer mindshare contribute to their cloud infrastructure being more attractive? People choose names they recognize.


AWS was put on the map almost entirely by engineering blogs (which I am not saying is a bad thing -- it's a testament to their services), like the famous Netflix moving everything to AWS article. Before that it was blogs on S3 and SQS. They were well known and generating a billion in revenue as early as 2011, and this was well, well before AWS was "mainstream" in terms of you start seeing public adverts now for AWS everywhere.


I have sold on Amazon for about 3 years now, over 2000+ skus FBA. The items I sell are pretty easy to counterfeit (much easier than OPs). There have been plenty of sellers come in and undercut price and subsequently destroy my products ratings because customers received fakes.

I started moving my products into the Brand Registry and all of a sudden the counterfeit sellers started disappearing...and now they don't exist anymore. So at one point a few years ago I was on this guys side and was starting to write up cease & desists but I believe Amazon is getting better at it. Haven't seen any counterfeit sellers on my listings that last for more than 30 days in a while.


With so many SKUs, it's easy to relax. OP has nine so one fake seller can wipe out a substantial amount of revenue overnight for her.


I have all but stopped buying from amazon due to this problem. But I have to say, this part bothers me:

"For the record, I love Amazon as a customer, I buy way too much stuff with Prime, I'm a long shareholder, and think they are on track to become the biggest company in the world (unless they get broken up for anti-trust reasons)."

If you are actively losing money from this problem and still buy from them, you are actively sabotaging yourself!


Show me who among us is not contradictory in our behavour.


Because of the counterfeiting on Amazon, I’m becoming price-insensitive and ordering direct from brand websites. I’d rather order once at full mark up than burn time dealing with fakes.


I've become quite disenchanted with Amazon because of this counterfeit issue along with the fake review problem. In addition, Amazon customer service -- traditionally excellent -- has only been good to acceptable recently (they've started using Chinese agents who don't really seem to understand American customer service and also sometimes struggle with English).

I really wanted to drop Prime this year, but the wife uses it for some books and movies she likes and begged me not to. However, I've started ordering my stuff directly from sellers whenever possible. Occasionally, I order from Amazon if I need something quickly, but prefer to order directly even then if the seller has a rush delivery option (attention sellers! always offer an expedited delivery option, even if you think no one will use it!)


Chinese agents? Are you sure? I thought most overseas customer service was outsourced to Phillipines or India ... or to Amazon's AIs.


This is ruling out Amazon for so many categories of product and has been going on for years.

Yet they don't seem to be bothered.

So now I look on Amazon, then see if I can buy direct or from a different retailer.


I've seen this especially in the power charger category... Apple power chargers I end up always just having to go to the Apple Store for now. Sigh. I want to use Amazon, but have had so many sketchy "Apple" products sent my way.


It’s outright dangerous to buy that type of product from Amazon, even if you buy “ships and sold from amazon” their inventory mixing means you can get counterfeits just as easily.

If selling fake solar eclipse glasses didn’t hit them with the clue bat, I’m not sure what will.


This is good article you've probably already read on the topic of counterfeit eclipse glasses: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/09/science/eclipse-glasses-r...

Perhaps the worst thing in my mind about the lack of education (for one reason of another) with reference to eclipse glasses is that good pairs can easily be shared around with minimal planning (I always buy extra new pairs as souvenirs more than anything). The partial phases just aren't things that anyone stares at for minutes on end, and totality requires that eclipse glasses be removed.

Hopefully there'll be more experience at hand and education by 2024 to avoid a repeat of 2017 (which in the grand scheme, was mostly isolated cases of poor outcomes - for most people, the biggest risk would have been driving to an eclipse site).


It's really anything branded as by "Apple" on Amazon.

Look at the reviews of the Apple Thunderbolt Cable [1] -- 40% are 1 star reviews and many mention the cable being fake.

Similar story on the Apple USB Ethernet adapter [2]. I bought one a few years back and it identified itself with Chinese lettering in System Preferences.

Ken Shirriff did an amazing teardown of fake Apple chargers [3] and found a number of safety hazards relating to high voltage isolation. Teardown of the USB Adapter [4] found it used a part that doesn't exist (label does not match any known package for that IC).

1: https://www.amazon.com/Apple-Thunderbolt-Cable-2-0-White/dp/...

2: https://www.amazon.com/Apple-USB-Ethernet-Adapter-MC704LL/dp...

3: http://www.righto.com/2014/05/a-look-inside-ipad-chargers-pr...

4: http://projectgus.com/2013/03/anatomy-of-a-cheap-usb-etherne...


Amazon isn't my first choice anymore.

Not just because of the risk of fake products (I buy from ebay and Wish). But also because of the incomprehensible range of "add on" only items; prime only items; and then variable prices for shipping.


Do eBay and Wish have better reputations as far as genuine products go?


I designed a hardware product but haven't brought it to market because even if it is successful, Chinese manufacturers will reverse engineer it and then have a cheaper clone on the market within weeks, long before I can recoup even the cost of manufacturing, let alone make a profit. And since I can't afford to pursue legal action, it seems pointless to manufacture the product, and everybody loses. I wonder how much innovation is stifled this way.


There's a joke that if you're considering making something but think it would cost too much or take too long, just send the design out to some Chinese companies for a quote, but don't order any. Then wait a week or so for it to show up on Alibaba, buy a bunch and resell them under your own brand.


I remember a while back there was a kickstarter for a phone case that folds out into a selfie stick, it got successfully funded.

Within weeks of the kickstarter finishing, before the kickstarter had even delivered or even started manufacturing the cases, they were for sale on Aliexpress.

It seems so easy for someone in China to do this. Look for successful product kickstarters and you already have market validation. Something like a selfie stick case would be so easy to set up a production run for.


An engineer friend noticed this with civil engineering applications as well.

Chinese companies troll RFPs for bridge and other designs. In this case, my friend saw a unique bridge/overpass that he was associated with in some obscure province that was completed before the original. He knew it was their design because it did not include changes that were made after the contract award.


If you're not going to manufacture the product yourself, have you considered either:

- doing a Kickstarter to get people to prepay? That way at least your first batch can be paid for before you shell out any money, OR

- just giving away the design so at least your product sees the light of day, even if there's no financial gain for you?


> - just giving away the design so at least your product sees the light of day, even if there's no financial gain for you?

Do you work for free?


It's just one of many options, but do you put your heart and soul into something then not let it see the light of day after you find out you can't profit?


fpvracing has already worked for free: spent effort to design a product, without any revenue, and apparently now having given up hope of getting any revenue.

I made two suggestions: one of which might provide a path to revenue, and another which, whilst providing no revenue, would also cost nothing, and require virtually no additional effort beyond that already expended.


The one advantage you have is that your competitors aren't aware of you yet, so use that time to prepare. I'd say either pursue minimum-cost overseas manufacturing right away, before you have competition, or position your brand to be higher quality than Chinese imports.


Cool, then open source it to screw the scammers and make a harder to fake product next time.

Sorry.


What's the hardware product? It's not like the counterfeit version will take over your product that fast and you'll always be able to keep a local market.


I wonder how many consumers (not you) complain about counterfeits also whinge about copyright being morally evil.

I bet it's a large contingent.


So hire a Chinese company to manufacture it on the cheap to begin with. Isn't that what everyone does anyway?

The market doesn't care about who has the best idea, or who had it first, it only cares about who comes to market with the best deal for the consumer.


A friend of mine tried this. Chinese company delayed shipment to US and flooded amazon with counterfeits made on the same line.

By the time the product made it through customs his “partner” had sold thousands.


I was wondering if that would be an issue. It might be worthwhile to present it to the factory as something else. E.g. a quadcopter part presented as handheld fan for hot weather.


My mileage apparently varies, because I've been shopping heavily on Amazon for years and have never had a counterfeit item show up on my doorstep.


I'm a bit confused as well, because I've spent well into 6 figures on the site since the beginning days of Amazon, and I've literally never noticed a counterfeit product. So if this is a super common problem, they are some quality counterfeiters.


The things which really get my goat are the awful-quality print-on-demand facsimiles I sometimes accidentally buy when I'm looking for an old book. Seriously putting me off Amazon. Nationalise and break them up already!


Try AbeBooks instead.


That you know of.


I use this stuff for my fishtank that conditions the water. It is primarily for removing chlorine. So I got a bottle off of amazon. A few months later I am at the pet store and they carry the same stuff. I notice the bottle in the pet store has the label printed directly on the bottle. The one I got from Amazon was what looked like the same label but was just a sticker.

So I buy the one at the pet store and a water test kit. I test both bottles and the one from amazon did the same to remove the chlorine as just letting water sit out did. While the one from the pet store did what I was expecting.

The stuff is a clear liquid and has no odor.


I've basically stopped buying things from Amazon because it is so hard to tell where your goods are coming from. With co-mingling even if you buy from a legitimate seller it is impossible to ensure that you get a legitimate product.

I'd rather spend a few extra dollars and remove all of this hassle and buy directly, or from a more trustworthy place.


Last year I had two products I bought on Amazon arrive that were obviously previously opened. No warning at all when making the purchase. They didn't appear to be counterfeit but I still returned them. Now I avoid Amazon whenever I can.


> Jeff Bezos, if you're reading this, come on - this is day 2 activity.

It's always "Day 1" at Amazon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTwXS2H_iJo


Isn't it possible to bring a class action lawsuit? This is precisely the kind of things that a class action suit is a good remedy for.


It is. But read before you click!

“Any dispute or claim relating in any way to your use of any Amazon Service, or to any products or services sold or distributed by Amazon or through Amazon.com will be resolved by binding arbitration, rather than in court, except that you may assert claims in small claims court if your claims qualify. The Federal Arbitration Act and federal arbitration law apply to this agreement.

There is no judge or jury in arbitration, and court review of an arbitration award is limited. However, an arbitrator can award on an individual basis the same damages and relief as a court (including injunctive and declaratory relief or statutory damages), and must follow the terms of these Conditions of Use as a court would.”

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId...


This is why I only buy Apple products from Apple, Amazon is flooded with counterfeits.


Counterfeiters on Amazon have been hitting the board game market hard. From an interview [1]:

> We feel, and this number is speculative (but it's going to be somewhere on that range), that Asmodee North America’s sales are going to be affected somewhere between five and ten million dollars, this year alone. We believe for some games, that more than 70% of all sales in the U.S. market have been counterfeit.

1. https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/39296/icv2-interview-asm...


Not only that, Amazon India openly allows misleading product description and the cse "overlooks" it when you talk to them. In India it's a standard practice to overstate objectively wrong things about products. Eg. Hard drive model number product make: pvc dumbbells vs cheap plastic filled with sand. Yes that's a thing on the site. The attitude of Amazon India is we don't care about bad publicity as long as people are buying from us so not even shaming them here, just mentioning.


I always thought the counterfeit good program was fulfillment by Amazon mixing items with the same UPC code.

I ordered a power supply once and it had all chinese writing on it, and plus it didn't power up unless I kept turning it and fiddled with the connector. Was concerned, so sent it back. Didn't want it to catch on fire. It had a English brand name on the listing though too.

I was looking at new earpods, and even in the reviews people mentioned they got fakes. https://www.amazon.com/Apple-MD827LL-EarPods-Remote-Mic/dp/B... - I went to a local walmart instead and bought it online. Even Walmart, NewEgg and Sears website's have the same program as Amazon with counterfeits.

I don't trust them as much as I did when shopping online. The NBC nightly news did a story about this last week. https://youtu.be/klbPhwE44hI

"Ships from and sold by Amazon" I guess to look for... I still use Amazon for AWS and Kindle though... But for Physical products I feel like I got to be more careful. Edit: It looks like from "0xcde4c3db" Post, it still can happen even if sold by Amazon. Wow.

One of the things they recommended to do is to buy directly from the brand's website, which is kinda annoying since need a bunch of accounts, and Amazon Prime is a nice benefit too you can't use externally. Which is a great thing for digital nomads who don't want to wait for a package in the same area too long.

Another thing is fake memory too. SD Cards and flash drives. If you search "2TB USB flash drive" on Amazon and scroll down some. There's some 2-2.5 star ones where some of the reviews mention it's fake. One of them even mentioned no company currently makes a 2TB USB Flash drives. However they do make 2TB USB SSD's.

Plus I wouldn't want to try your luck with some of these items, as if you they are fake and you return it. I'm unsure if Amazon counts those returns towards the total returns before they close your account. I wouldn't want to risk it and be proactive. If i'm unsure about a item, it's less of a headache to just buy elsewhere.

I hope they solve this somehow, as Amazon is really convenience and I really want to trust them more. There's really no other online store like them that's a one stop for all. Still like Amazon but got to be more careful with all these stories lately.


>"Ships and sold by Amazon" is something to look out for I guess

Don't get too comfortable. Malicious sellers can open a vendor account with Amazon and sell their counterfeits this way.


A large chunk of the most important and/or profitable tech businesses are really private “markets.” That is, they don’t just sell goods and services. I would put all advertising businesses in that category too

Amazon is an obvious (and very literal) example, as are app stores. But, Youtube is another example. People post videos. People watch videos. People place ads on videos. Google is at the centre coordinating this stuff.

Very few markets are cleverly designed or run. Adwords was an example of a clever one. The auction, is the centrepiece and it reached its current state pretty early in adwords’ history. It was designed cleverly, with a ton of attention to incentives and 2nd order effects.

Youtube, as a marketplace, is terribly designed. The “monetisation” systems are almost designed to produce spam, and discourage unique “maker” content. The differentials in earnings of similar content on youtube, vs any other medium are immense.

Why does a podcast, TV show or other medium (lets assume it’s the same content) make so much more than a youtube channel. How is it possible that a million views a week is not enough to pay for a 2-man basement operation?

The big boys need to get some economists on board, good ones.


Amazon will replace whatever stupid crap you end up with. This is why it doesn't hurt their brand. You know they will fix it, so it's just a minor inconvenience to the customer, most of the time. Meanwhile, it shuts down businesses.

You'd think politicians might care about this, but they're too busy handing out billions to get them to move to their state.


It's hurting their brand, even if they haven't realised.

I don't want 3 attempts and returns to buy a battery, or charger, or any of the dozens of categories this affects. I don't want to be buying co-mingled inventory on lines I know are prone to counterfeiting.

So I think of Amazon as 2nd rate - (because of this). So do many of my friends who have been affected by this as it's become far from rare.


It does hurt their brand. People have to go through return and re-order.

It’s becoming like eBay.


I went through what must be five cycles of returning counterfeit Samsung batteries (easy to detect counterfeit -- the NFC didn't work) to get replacements which were counterfeit. Chatting with customer service was an exercise in futility.


They sold me a counterfeit Horowitz and Hill [0], since it was outside of the return window the support person basically said, "you have an interesting memento".

[0] https://artofelectronics.net/the-book/counterfeit-editions/


I don't want to buy books from Amazon anymore. I'm perfectly capable of "pirating" a copy myself and printing it. I want the real thing, not another cheap print out.


I assume mine is counterfeit, since it was $42.50 for the hardback, from a seller on AbeBooks (College Booksstore of Newark, Delaware) who no longer appears to exist.

If it is a counterfeit, it is flawless as far as I can tell. It has none of the physical problems listed on that link. They only thing suspicious is the price.


File a credit card dispute.


That's a great option until you realize they can close your Amazon account for chargebacks, which in my case would mean the loss of thousands of dollars worth of Kindle books.


Good point!

I've only bought ~10 Kindle books over the years because DRM, but had been getting more open to it. Then just recently they started delivering ads to the iPad reader as 'notifications' with a red icon that won't go away until you tap to see. They may think that's a minor new feature which they only use occasionally, and which their average user will appreciate. But to me it looks like the start of "I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further."


I don’t buy ebooks, with a few exceptions mostly from Apple.

Check out your library system. My library has an amazing selection of books, usually available in EPUB and Kindle formats. If you live or work in New York State, you can get library cards in many libraries including NYPL. NYPL also lets you access Brooklyn.


I didn’t realize that was a thing. Thank you and great point.


You know you can download them and remove the DRM.


Sure, if I thought to do that before the chargebacks. I'd also better have an iron-clad backup strategy for the now irreplaceable files.

What about the non-technical user who disputes a charge, doesn't even know what DRM stands for, and finds themselves in this situation?


Has the latest DRM been cracked yet?


I don't know if the new DRM that is applied to the books as they are on the device has been cracked, but there are links to download books to a computer (on the "Manage Your Content and Devices" Amazon page), and those can be unlocked by a Calibre plugin.


Then find a lawyer to sue them?


The "fight a multi-hundred-billion dollar corporation's legal team" approach has pretty dismal success rates.


Ironically, Alibaba is trying to fix counterfeits in the supply chain. Amazon should follow suit.

https://medium.com/@alitech_2017/blockchain-based-qa-the-end...


I have been purchasing more and more from Walmart. Initially I thought it was hopeless for Walmart to catch up to Amazon but counterfeits are destroying my trust in Amazon and Walmart has really stepped up their online ordering the last couple years. Amazon is feeling increasingly like eBay.


Jeeze, looking at the product page it's really hard to spot the seller and make sure you've chosen a legit vendor.

Also, Anchors are a great idea. I'm a VR developer and my desk is pretty crowded with headsets, so I just ordered a few to try them out. Hopefully the real ones arrive!


Oh my god, I want this product(original) but it is not available on amazon.de! It would be amazing to get your products in Germany. I just ordered it on amazon.co.uk as shipping was less expensive than getting it on www.elevationlab.com.


Are there the same problems with counterfeiting in their grocery department? How can you be sure that your organic flour, almonds and coffee or are really what they claim and not some relabelled non-organic GMO product?


Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s response when asked earlier today why inflation has remained so low for so long: “It’s a phenomenon we don’t completely understand... it could be partially explained by the Amazon effect.”


> And Jeff Bezos, if you're reading this, come on - this is day 2 activity.

That is a serious burn. It really drives home the point of how serious this issue is.


You should not have left a one star review on your competition. That's a surefire way to land in hot water if they report you.


Amazon should do what they can to weed out this kind of thing.

But consumers can also be more aware of the sellers on Amazon.


You can "buy from" a seller that provided 100% legit units and still end up with a counterfeit because Amazon threw them all in the same bin ("commingling"). This is the basis of the Daimler lawsuit: there were counterfeit items "sold by Amazon.com", whereas Amazon had previously gotten a pass because they weren't actually selling the counterfeits themselves.


Awareness isn't enough: even if consumers know that there are counterfeiters and other bad actors, they doesn't mean that they know who they are. This is in part because the review system is compromised.


I wonder how tolerant of Ring product knock-offs Amazon will be now.


What do people here think of rfid blockchain products like VeChain that are hoping to solve this problem? Is it a solution?


I used to shop waaaay too much on Amazon, but I’ve largely stopped and almost entirely as a result of counterfeits. If I wanted the experience of shopping in an open air market, I’d hoof it to one. I also really feel for people like the OP who do nothing wrong, but have a good idea and market it successfully.

Amazon, I’d be back in a heartbeat if you fixed this. Sellers and buyers deserve better, and this kind of thing, along with bullshit reviews are a cancer in your business. If you wait for the first frank signs of disease to register, you’ll already be in terminal decline.


Dear OP: I’d prefer a cheaper, “counterfeit” version of the product you discuss to the one you produce.


I can understand wanting to have a similar but cheaper product. Good enough is fine for most people. I don't understand why you'd want counterfeit branding too.


while i agree with your post, "The current counterfeit seller, suiningdonghanjiaju Co Ltd (yeah they sound legit), " could be construed as a racist comment


I think it could be CONSTRUED as a racist comment, but the person thinking of it that way would be really stretching, in my opinion.

1. All of these counterfeit items are coming from China.

2. The legit seller is ElevationLab, which "suiningdonghanjiaju Co Ltd" is not.

3. "suiningdonghanjiaju Co Ltd" is a Chinese name.

4. "suiningdonghanjiaju Co Ltd" is a very customer-unfriendly name -- not something you'd see from a big foreign-facing Chinese company.

So all in all, it doesn't seem racist at all to point out that this company name seems illegitimate.

If the author had MADE UP a "Chinese-sounding name" like "nihaobaobaomao," then yeah, I could follow an argument pointing out that statement as being reasonably construed as racist. But in the context of talking about Chinese companies producing cheap knock-offs, I don't see a problem with naming the company and pointing out that the name itself does not sound like a legit company at all.


Some counterpoints and comments.

1. So many legit items come from China that as a consumer you can't dismiss something out of hand just because it came from China. 3. Huawei is a Chinese name, Xiaomi is a Chinese name. See #1. 4. This is a legitimate point. The company did not optimize their name for a non-Chinese audience.

I think the main thrust of why that comment has racist tones is because it feels like the main complaint is that it's a foreign (non-Western) sounding name, hard to pronounce and funny looking, therefore it cannot be legitimate.

(Actually, I don't know if you did it on purpose, but nihaobaobaomao is a great name... It's very cute and sounds like "Hello bundle kitty"...)


Great comments, but I think I disagree with some of them. :)

> 1. So many legit items come from China that as a consumer you can't dismiss something out of hand just because it came from China.

This is true, but I don't think it's a counterpoint. Regardless of how many legitimate products come out of China, the fact remains that the huge, huge majority of counterfeit products are from China. So if you're looking at a counterfeit product, the odds are that it will be from China, regardless of how many other legitimate products out there are from China.

> 3. Huawei is a Chinese name, Xiaomi is a Chinese name

Those were ones I was thinking of, which is why I added the "not something you'd see from a big foreign-facing Chinese company" bit.

It's a foreigner-unfriendly name, terrible for marketing, searches, and sales. I can't imagine a legit company trying to use it overseas. Something like Huawei or Xiaomi (or in other cases, Samsung, Hitachi, BMW, Volvo, etc.) are short and sweet, simpler to digest and remember.

> I think the main thrust of why that comment has racist tones is because it feels like the main complaint is that it's a foreign (non-Western) sounding name, hard to pronounce and funny looking, therefore it cannot be legitimate.

I do completely agree with that, but in my opinion, with the evidence in this case, the complaint itself couldn't reasonably be construed as racist. In hindsight, my argument about "shorter, more professional names" is basically this quote ("hard to pronounce and funny looking") boiled into more reasonable terms...

> Actually, I don't know if you did it on purpose, but nihaobaobaomao is a great name... It's very cute and sounds like "Hello bundle kitty"...

You caught me. :P

I couldn't bring myself to type something really stereotypically racist.


> > Actually, I don't know if you did it on purpose, but nihaobaobaomao is a great name... It's very cute and sounds like "Hello bundle kitty"... > You caught me. :P > I couldn't bring myself to type something really stereotypically racist.

Hello cat buns!? Of course that's racist; accusing people of eating cats....

:)

(Yeah, that's how I read bao at first...)

More seriously, consider Fenix or Anker; they have "short professional" names, but are not particularly western (esp. the spelling). Both are newer companies, based in China, sell fairly heavily on Amazon, and are frankly some of the best providers of their product niches.


This is definitely one of those "if you squint at it, it could be racist" borderline comments. I feel that the problem with these comments is that it normalizes the acceptance of alienness as untrustworthy. That may have been true in society a long time ago, but with a global economy, this is a dangerous thought. It also has effects outside of commerce, such as marginalizing people with hard to pronounce or funny looking names. It's a subtle effect that may not have much impact in individual instances, but in aggregate can be very strong.


Incidentally, is "Co Ltd" even a meaningful designation for a Chinese business entity? I usually see it for British or Japanese companies.


Yes, especially those based out of Hong Kong for similar reasons (formed during the British Empire/occupancy/what-have-you).


Anything can be construed as a racist comment by an unreasonable person. I don't see any legitimate cause for a reasonable person to construe it as such however.

And although it shouldn't really matter, I say the above as a person of Chinese heritage, who does not speak for others of Chinese heritage. But if you aren't even of Chinese heritage, and are attempting to be outraged on our behalf, I would take a long, hard look at what misguided ideology brought you to post that comment.


if the company were based in Africa, one would not dare to call it an "illegitimate" company


By whom and why?


It could be, but to what end?




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