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Amazon Is Complicit in Online Sales of Counterfeit Goods: Report (ipwatchdog.com)
253 points by vezycash on June 16, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 195 comments



If Amazon ever faces a reckoning or crisis of some kind, it will because their marketplace product is totally out of control. Sellers have completely gamed search, ratings, reviews, everything and Amazon, by design, makes it really hard to tell if you're buying something "shipped and sold by Amazon" vs some other shady seller whose products are only being fulfilled by Amazon.

I would say I'm more dissatisfied with things I buy from Amazon than almost any other merchant, and now I only buy things on Amazon if it's 1) either sold directly by Amazon (which is increasingly hard to find) or 2) really cheap and where questionable quality is not a concern.

Egregious example: Type in "wireless headphones" and the top results look like what you'd find on a corner in Chinatown than a legitimate electronics store.


> Type in "wireless headphones" and the top results look like what you'd find on a corner in Chinatown than a legitimate electronics store.

This is the most apt, insightful description I've seen so far of what is evidently a growing problem for Amazon: more and more retail consumers no longer trust the merchandise being sold by Amazon.

I write this as a longtime Amazon Prime member who, recently, for the first time ever, decided to buy a relatively inexpensive product (filters for a fairly expensive espresso machine) from a bricks-and-mortar retailer instead of Amazon, because I could not trust that the products listed for sale on Amazon were genuine (as opposed to knock-offs) or even the right kind (made with the right kind of silicon).


I first stopped buying memory cards, camera batteries and so on from Amazon, after I received a counterfeit battery.

Having found other retailers for those items, they now also benefit from other purchases. I haven't bought anything from Amazon for over two years.

I've also told my parents not to use Amazon for electronics. They won't notice if they get a counterfeit charger that could burn their house down. It's unlikely, but not worth a $2 saving.


Even before Amazon became a problem, anything camera related I always ordered from B&H or Adorama. Camera equipment is just so ripe for fakes and grey market stuff.


B&H openly sells grey market products.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/find/HelpCenter/USGrey.jsp

Just to be clear, the only thing that's really wrong with grey market products is they don't come with a warranty. The are the same exact products you get on the white market.


Plus, you know what you're getting; they're up front about that. When you buy from B&H, you are going to get the thing you paid for. It's up to you to decide how much the warranty is worth.


And aren't they clearly marked? I'm not against buying grey market equipment. The problem is getting sent grey market stuff when paying US prices.


  grey market products
... are still genuine. It's the product's authenticity that's the issue, not its journey to you.


Yep, to be honest I might even want to buy a genuine counterfeit item for some reason. If I see a listing for a counterfeit rolex then maybe that's fine (not legally, but it's not harming the consumer). The problem is when you buy a real rolex and get a fake one.


How can they come without a warranty? Isn't the seller responsible for returns?


Manufacturer's warranty.

Most products come with 6 months-1 year warranty. So, let's say I buy a Samsung TV that breaks six months later due to a defect in manufacturing, Samsung will replace the TV for me under warranty if I bought it from a Samsung approved retailer, say Walmart. If I bought the same exact TV from a retailer unknown or unapproved by Samsung, they will say the warranty doesn't apply.

B&H gives their own warranty on grey market products to make up for it. So if you bought a grey market Samsung from B&H, Samsung's warranty wouldn't apply, but B&H's would.

>For IMP items only, B&H provides a warranty identical to the provisions and limitations of the manufacturer's warranty for such items, with the exception of the time period, which is equal to the term of the manufacturer's warranty or one (1) year, whichever is less.* Your dated B&H sales receipt is all you need to obtain warranty coverage from B&H for a "grey market" product purchased from us.


Although I don't know if this has been tested, I'm not so sure that manufacturers can so easily weasle out of a warranty for a product simply because it was labeled for sale in another country.

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/05/the-wor...

You have expressed and implied warranty rights on products, regardless of what their actual warranty paperwork days.


It may not be that there's no warranty, it may be that it's in the country the product was designated for. If I buy a South Korea only Samsung product, they may say "call the warranty number in Seoul to arrange to ship it to the repair depot in Seoul, and by the way that line is Korean language only. You're also going to need your receipt from an authorized seller so we can be sure it didn't 'fall off a truck.'"


They come with a warranty in some country, but that country isn't the US.


Ah, right. I was confused because in the UK (possibly Europe) the retailer is responsible for returns. It doesn't matter where the retailer sourced the product from.


It's important to note that warranties and returns are different things.


Still, the retailer is responsible for both across the EU.


They probably do in the US as well if you press hard enough.

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/05/the-wor...

Some have, and have one. Though none that I know of were specifically for grey market products.


The real kicker is that I've gotten more consistently genuine electronic products from AliExpress than from Amazon.


This is so true. I don't buy dog products made in China for obvious reasons but it's hard to discern what is truly made in America, or what's packaged in America and made in China. So I typically opt for other reputable pet websites. My 2¢.


Even items “shipped and sold by amazon” can often be counterfeit. Below is one example, but I’ve also read on HN of someone receiving a dangerous fake Apple adapter that was “sold and shipped by Amazon”, and I have personally bought shampoo from Amazon that I’m pretty certain was counterfeit.

http://www.thefashionlaw.com/home/amazon-is-tricking-consume...


Absolutely true, bought an item sold and shipped from Amazon and received a broken counterfeit. They only let me return and would not replace with a real one, probably because they have no idea what they are selling anymore due to inventory mixing.


Amazon's "inventory mixing" situation seems strikingly similar to the mixing problems in the commercial meat production industry [often identified as a significant factor in contamination investigations].


I've wondered if Amazon co-locates its own stock with that of Fulfillment By Amazon stock which would mean you could end up with anything as long as it looks similar and has the same SKU.


This is exactly what happens. Items from different sellers are mixed together and then randomly dispatched by Amazon under their own name.


This is the reason why I quit buying anything from Amazon anymore if I can help it. They're not interested in fixing it.

What I can't understand is this: even if they comingle, they must know which seller owns which item. If they didn't, how would they pay the right seller once a particular item is sold? And yet, there seems to be no accountability at all.


They don't need to know which product belongs to which seller, they only need to know how many.

If someone clicks your listing and buys a product, they ship it from the commingled inventory and then pay you your share of the sale and deduct one from your inventory tally.

Then, if the item they sent ends up being counterfeit, whether from your own stock, from another seller, or even from Amazon's own stock, they will take it out on your seller account for selling counterfeits.


So then how do they decide which of the comingled sellers got the sale? Round Robin? Random?


The customer still ordered via the listing of a specific vendor, even if Amazon shipped from co-mingled stock.


Not necessarily, some items have only one listing for all sellers and you click the buy button that has the prime logo. Who are you buying from in this case as far as Amazon is concerned for their inventory accounting?


It's always been clear to me which specific vendor I'm buying from, it lists it right under the product. I can click on new or used in order to see other vendors and select one of them if I prefer. Based on my experience, the vendor defaults to Amazon if they have the product themselves, otherwise it is likely based on whoever they make the most money on. That is not a straightforward computation - they might make more profit on a more expensive listing, but then fewer people would buy it. I'm sure they use some proprietary ML algorithm to decide which vendor to show, but its always been very clear to me which vendor I'm purchasing from, both on the item page and also in the cart.


Yes, but that’s not I was talking about in my original post, at least. I was discussing the fact that even if you explicitly choose “Amazon.com” from that list of vendors, Amazon itself is shipping goods from other vendors and making it impossible for you to know that, which can lead to receiving counterfeit goods. There is zero indication, anywhere, that it’s being shipped from anyone else’s stock in these cases.


I don't think this is the case. If there is only one listing for all sellers, it must be from amazon stock.


Maybe, that would make sense. In any case, I quit playing the amazon lottery altogether personally.


Ah, it makes sense to do so but I'd imagine this practice would affect consumer confidence in Sold by Amazon options given time.


It already is. As you can see by everyone here talking about it, it's beginning to cost them sales. I imagine there will be a big campaign by Amazon in some years from now about them "trying" to fix this problem.


Not always true; only if that vendor uses co-mingling.


As a vendor you have to pay Amazon extra to avoid comingling - basically you have to get a new item number assigned and product you're selling all has to be tracked by that number.


Probably because someone who has fulfilment speed as their bonus metric keeps prevailing over those with return rate as their bonus metric.


This was happening with Ziess lens cleaners which is a HUGE deal because counterfeit lens cleaners don't use isopropyl alcohol to clean. They use ammonia (like windex) which destroys lens coatings.

At least stores like Walmart (not counting their online which is a marketplace like Amazon) vet the in-store products.


Even genuine goods sold by Amazon can be problematic. I bought a consumer-grade router sold by Amazon, and what arrived was an obsolete version that had not been produced for 4 years.

They did accept it back though.


Have any other retailers (especially those with similar "marketplaces" like Walmart and Newegg) implemented the commingling idea?


You can only trust "shipped and sold by Amazon" if you can be certain they are not using inventory co-mingling. Basically everyone's inventory for the same product are thrown into the same warehouse storage bin, so when you buy the item it's a lucky dip as to whose product is picked and put in the parcel.

If another merchant is offering the same item on the listing I don't think it's possible to be certain. Does anyone know a way to be sure?


Actually co-mingling in the same warehouse bin is of little to no benefit to Amazon. The benefit is derived by having the same item in different bins, which are in geographically diverse warehouse locations. Amazon saves big bucks by shipping from the most cost effective location in relation to the customer.


As far as ordering is concerned they are the same. How Amazon handle within a warehouse or across multiple doesn't change the effect to consumers:

If FakeCo send 200 fake headphones to Amazon, co mingle, and Amazon have 800 genuine headphones:

80% of purchases from both Amazon and FakeCo will be genuine, and 20% fake. Amazon is effectively subsidising the counterfeiter and encourages legitimately good reviews for an entirely fraudulent supplier! If they're allocated to different warehouses then chances of fake may vary by which warehouse is nearest. In aggregate the effect is the same.

It's no wonder reviews are so often such a confusing and contradictory mess.


It's not about cheaper shipping - but also faster shipping. And where would Amazon be without faster shipping than their competitors ?


Considering how often I heard the "Customer Obsession" (https://www.amazon.jobs/en/principles) principle come up in both technical and business decisions at Amazon, I'm completely baffled that the marketplace product remains, and shows no sign of intending to clean up its act.

It's arguably wrecking intolerable damage to customer trust, the one thing that is supposed to be being held above all others there.


It's because fashion brands don't want to let Amazon sell their products. Lax counterfeit enforcement is Amazon saying "you can do this the easy way or the hard way." Kind of like how Youtube couldn't figure out how to enforce copyright until the music industry started cutting deals with them.

I fully support it, fuck fashion brands and their ridiculous manufactured exclusivity.


> Kind of like how Youtube couldn't figure out how to enforce copyright until the music industry started cutting deals with them

I mean, they still don't exactly know how to enforce copyright.


Same for eyeglass frames. It’s also a way of slowing Alibaba from growing US marketshare.


Haha, two of those principles are literally "Earn Trust" and "Insist on the Highest Standards", neither of which is happening here.


If I want cheap generic headphones I can go to monoprice and get something cheap but safe, legal, and decent quality - their $10 are surprising decent for what they are, throwaway headphones.

If I want nicer headphones I can go to a brick and mortar retailer (or their online counterpart) and get a selection of curtailed products from known brands provided by known suppliers with all the information about the products listed with a good search so I can compare. I have a choice but I don't have to slog through dozens of private label brands or poorly listed products with missing or incorrect descriptions/information. Or irrelevant products listed in the wrong product category.

If I go to Amazon I have to wade through pages of bad search results full of junky unsafe products from questionable sources (paradox of choice) with bad/missing information just to roll the dice that I don't get something counterfeit and/or unsafe.

What purpose does Amazon service now in this situation?


I think you're over-exaggerating the case against Amazon here. Does any savvy user just blindly type "headphones" into Amazon without knowing any of the brands, models, etc? No matter where I'm buying, the first step is always to do at least a few minutes of research. From that point I generally have very little trouble finding either the same brand name as the B&M, or a functional cheapo version. It really doesn't seem that hard to navigate (again, this assumes a somewhat savvy user, I can understand how someone like my mom could be confused/overwhelmed).

So for me, Amazon still offers a wide range of items and selection, many of which I would be hard pressed to find in a nearby B&M, and usually for cheaper (at least there are more price points to choose from). A recent example is some gold chainette fringe. I was actually in the fabric store and they had some but not enough, and I found a suitable replacement on Amazon for about 1/3 the price.


...but the ones on Amazon are counterfeit.


Again, if you know what you're doing, it's pretty easy to tell tell the difference. I followed the link in the article about the Elevation Lab headphone mount. The counterfeit listing is actually more convincing than most, but wait, "sold by suiningdonghanjiaju Co Ltd?" Hmm.

I'm not saying it's great that Amazon is allowing this stuff, my point was just that, even with the presence of some noise, it's still a quite useful service and it seems silly to act like it's "over."


> Again, if you know what you're doing, it's pretty easy to tell tell the difference. ... The counterfeit listing is actually more convincing than most, but wait, "sold by suiningdonghanjiaju Co Ltd?" Hmm.

What you apparently don't understand is that Amazon co-mingles inventory from everyone who ships them a particular product.

It doesn't matter if you buy an "Apple USB Power Adapter" from Amazon, Apple, or Shady McCounterfeiters. You get a random sample from the same pool of goods. And that pool of goods often contains counterfeit products (in this particular case, about 90% are counterfeit).


What do you mean by "curtailed products"?


curated.


Yes, thank you, autocomplete fail.

Basically, Best Buy doesn't just sell anything JoeBlow45 who created their account yesterday decides to dump on their site, they have real suppliers and they know what they are selling.

And the listings don't end up like this: https://www.amazon.com/Paper-Illusions-Hearthstone-Colored-W... it's a listing for wallpaper but the pictures are for a Grateful Dead plush and another picture is a Grateful Dead poster.


>Best Buy doesn't just sell anything JoeBlow45 who created their account yesterday

You might be surprised. Many big box sellers now include third party listings from anyone and everyone. I believe Best Buy discontinued this last year or so. But many still do. Newegg, Walmart, Sears, to name a few.


I agree that I don't like seeing marketplace sellers on Walmart, etc. either. However, right now it's not a problem because they are clearly marked and easily filtered out as well as few and far between.


It’s the dangerous products that concern me more than the counterfeit ones. I’m more lenient than you, but yes there are huge category groups I won’t even bother trying to buy on Amazon. That list has been increasing, not shrinking. I still buy a lot from Amazon, but it’s probably more attributable to not going to physical retailers.

This has made me more bullish about non-Amazon e-commerce.


And some of these categories are surprising. A lot of the intel 10gbe NIC are counterfeit. I wouldn't expect a niche and sophisticated product like that to be affected, but twice I received a counterfeit card and forums are full of comments of people with the same experience.


What examples of ‘dangerous items’ come to mind? (Not to suggest the list is short by any means. I’m just curious.)

As an American company, and with so much power, and with the issue being so dispersed and untraceable, I imagine safety is not sufficient cause for regulation.


In a well-known incident in 2016, Apple sued a company making fake "Apple" power adapters, and in the suit alleged that 90% of the "Apple" products on Amazon were fake.

That such adapters are literally dangerous is clearly documented in Ken Shirrif's teardown:

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

http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2016/10/apple-su...

http://www.businessinsider.com/majority-apple-accessories-am...

https://lifehacker.com/how-to-spot-a-counterfeit-apple-light...


Surprised nobody else mentioned the possibly counterfeit eclipse glasses:

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/08/lawsuit-amazon-s...

Amazon did in fact try to avoid shipping fake glasses, but some may have gone out.


Hoverboards were a big one a couple years ago - burned a few houses down and killed at least one kid. The vast majority of brands of hoverboards sold on Amazon, as far as I know, were private labels from the same handful of Chinese factories.

I would also especially worry about cosmetics and baby products/toys and I hope nobody's buying power tools from Amazon. There was an article here on hacker news a couple weeks ago that mentioned a lady who was (partially?) blinded by an unsafe dog leash she bought on Amazon.


Counterfeit nutritional supplements. No way to tell what's really in them.

Edited for clarity


That's true in grocery stores too though


What grocery store let random people stock their shelves?


There is no oversight of supplements (at least in the US). You just have to trust the brand, because legally there's nothing stopping a supplement manufacturer from using entirely different ingredients from what is claimed.


Yes, but at least you can trust the brand or not at most brick and mortar stores.

On Amazon, you can buy your trusted brand and not actually be getting that brand.

Granted, this happens at brick and mortar on occasion, but they generally have a relationship with most of their suppliers and it would be unwise to allow counterfeits through.


Electronics which have a UL sticker but are nowhere near UL standards of design. It probably won't burn your house down, but it's a lot more likely than with a UL-approvable design.


Baby formula is a classic one. Electronics with flammable batteries.


Cosmetics. Supplements. Medical devices. Bike helmets. Just to start the list.


In addition to the issues mentioned above, I cancelled Prime when returns of Marketplace items started being handled by the merchants instead of Amazon, meaning the customer handles the return shipping cost, even for faulty or misrepresented products, and the merchant is ground zero for customer service.


You may have to demand it, but I have never had to pay return shipping for a defective item on Amazon whether direct to Amazon or to a 3rd party. And I have purchased an unbelievable amount of stuff from Amazon.


I expect that requires a customer service call of unpredictable length, which includes an unsavory argument. This is a disgraceful way to live in my opinion.


No, I have never called amazon. It's automatic. And in the rare case where the automatic option doesn't work, I use the live chat help.


It’s literally a 10 second series of clicks on the “orders” section of your account, no call required.


I bought a pair of expensive Sony Bluetooth headphones from amazon. They shipped a pair that was refurbished, as in they had a crack and then had been glued together. Sent it back as for a replacement. A few months later that pair cracked in the exact same spot- and they were out of warranty at that time :/ Before buying I did not come across any reviews mentioning that issue. When mine cracked I did another search for reviews and came a ton of individuals on different forums complaining about the same problem, but did not find any reviews on Amazon mentioning that- by then- know issue. Bought directly from amazon...


Is this only a problem in American Amazon, or does like UK Amazon also suffer from this?

I ask because I recently started using Amazon since I moved to the UK and it's been fantastic. I haven't ran into any of these problems.


Yes has happened to me and several friends from Amazon UK. If it's a suspect category I'll try and buy direct or another retailer to avoid the hassle of returns.

UK & EU law places the legal liability on the retailer not the manufacturer. You will be able to return long after our US friends have been told it's outside the return window.

Unfortunately UK seems to have accepted Amazon marketplace as platform rather than Amazon as retailer. "Sold by Amazon" should keep you within Sale of Goods Acts protection. Guardian have been running a few tests recently[0],[1].

Traditional large high street retailers will typically avoid this by checking you conform to safety standards and are genuine, before accepting you as a supplier. Then randomly checking until you eventually rate becoming a preferred or trusted supplier. So I have high trust of everywhere on the high street, even including Poundland.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/27/amazon-si... [1] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jun/06/dangerous...


I, too, have more and more frequently been running into these issues with Amazon. I've been extremely dissatisfied with my last handful of Amazon purchase - all of them were clearly used items that were being sold as "new." I can no longer tell if I'm going to buy something from Amazon or a legitimate Amazon seller or some random company. It's really a shame, because Amazon used to be such a great place and I'm still having problems purging my trust for them since its so heavily supported by the years of great service.

Thankfully, many places now price match with Amazon, so the need to use them is becoming less and less.


These all look totally fine to me? The top items have 1000s of reviews at 4.5+ rating. For a general query of "wireless headphones" without any other specifics this seems like a pretty damned good result page. If you're specifically looking for high-quality headphones, the $200 & Above option is right there in the sidebar.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_13?url=search-alia...



This only solves the problem somewhat. It’s accurate 80% of the time in my country but I shudder to think what would happen when it becomes really prominent.


The “fulfilled” by distinction catches many an unawares shopper; legitimate merchants/manufacturers are also suffering revenue & brand damage too.

I recently came across a case[1] where a set of Marshall headphones that usually retail at USD$249 were being sold at USD$96. Reviews seemed legit, but it wasn’t the first party seller.

I reached out to Marshall over Twitter, and it looks like something has been done, but how does a manufacturer police this without dedicated staff? Amazon is undermining its customers (both you & I, and its merchants) by seemingly ignoring this.

[1]: https://twitter.com/elithrar/status/1005606803118252032


That's not even getting in to the current mess of Amazon Logistics deliveries. I thought perhaps it was just my bad luck, but a quick search online shows that their attempt to save money on shipping by doing it themselves has comically bad results. Unreliable quality with unreliable delivery, but unfortunately some of my attempts to shop elsewhere have also had very bad results.


In fact many of the results are almost identical to searches on eBay.

It’s a shame that just about the only stores that don’t have this problem are target and Best Buy as they don’t have third party merchant results.


And best buy only removed their 3rd party listings in 2016


eBay is every bit as terrible, and they also have worse browsing/searching


eBay makes it much clearer what’s going on. There are some things I buy there with the full knowledge that it’s coming from some rando, probably in China. I limit what I buy there to products where that’s ok. With Amazon they make it look like many products are more than they really are.


That's one of many problems. Fake buyers winning auctions with no intention to pay, fake buyers putting high bids seconds before the auction end to reveal everyone's bid limit, then cancelling the bid, then bidding £1 below the highest bid limit to max out bid limits. The UI is a train wreck with not a single page vaguely consistent with the others, not just the format, the content too (messages pending, items sold, etc).


I buy and sell a lot on eBay. I just always use buy it now. That solves all of your complaints above. (just make sure you require immediate payment).

As for the UI, I agree on that. But Amazon's seller UI is a nightmare as well. Many listing features don't even have a UI and require a huge bloated Excel file upload.


EBay doesn't have inventory co-mingling.


Okay. What's your point?


> Sellers have completely gamed search, ratings, reviews, everything and Amazon, by design, makes it really hard to tell if you're buying something "shipped and sold by Amazon" vs some other shady seller whose products are only being fulfilled by Amazon

I have to disagree with you on that. I've personally not had an issue seeing who the seller is, and to double check I went to Amazon, clicked on the very first thing, a moon lamp, and it clearly stated right under in-stock, who it was sold by and that it was being fulfilled by Amazon.


My point is the UI/UX for Amazon vs marketplace sellers is the same, and most customers are not as savvy or diligent as you or I to read the one line on the page that tells you the seller is Amazon or not.

The fact that you even have to be that careful is a bad customer experience.


As far as UI/UX design is concerned, I'm kind of surprised Amazon doesn't favor themselves more. Though I guess in their mind any customer going through them is still a sale.

Regardless, would a business want to sell on Amazon if they were treated second?

> The fact that you even have to be that careful is a bad customer experience.

This we can agree on, ideally Amazon would go through some evaluation process to determine that a seller is legitimate. Instead as far as I know they just let user reviews decide.

Side note though, Amazon really needs some competition. I can't recall the last time I bought anything online (that needed to be shipped) that wasn't through Amazon. For example, I used to buy computer parts from sites like Newegg, but unless there's a particularly good deal I'm probably going to Amazon. Clothing? Amazon. I don't want to have Levis and Hanes shipped separately.

Amazon is the Walmart of online retailers.


Amazon does have competition though.

Ebay Stores have been around forever, and Walmart and others have now also entered the third-party marketplace game.

But you can buy the same questionable goods they all peddle by buying directly from Alibaba and saving yourself the reseller markup. Shipping just takes longer.


How is Bezos not in prison? Pretty much all of Amazon now consists of knowingly counterfeit products, many of which contain toxic materials or are fire hazards, with knowingly fake reviews. Not to mention all the illegal drugs he's selling. It's absolutely insane.


I really, really want to hear the other side to this.

That there is a serious counterfeiting problem is obvious to anyone who buys certain categories of products on Amazon. It is certainly obvious to Amazon itself. BUT Amazon is also a very customer focused company. So how has this not been solved?

Critics will speculate that Amazon makes more money with this status quo, thus has little incentive to fix things. But that calculus doesn't make any sense---maybe in a very narrow balance sheet view, but Amazon has always taken a long view on these things, and there's no way the long term damage to their brand is worth whatever they make from sketchy third-party sellers. It doesn't add up. There must be something else factored in that I'm missing.


While they're obviously customer-focused in the sense that they sell products people want, they're nowhere near "Earth's most customer-centric company" (their claim) or even universally very customer-centric. Amazon's UX dark patterns to upsell members to Prime are infamous, as are their paid shipping upsell UI.

Those UIs aren't merely neutral between the customer and Amazon, they're deliberately deceptive. Even among very large tech companies, not that many have released UIs as deceptive as some of Amazon's. Try buying a medium-size or larger item without Prime to see some of them.

They are absolutely fantastic at convincing some of the public (and a much smaller percentage of employees…) they're uniquely customer-centric.


I'm skeptical of your claim that Amazon is a customer-focused company.

They're definitely a growth-focused company. At times in their history, and for certain aspects of the business, that has made them customer-focused.

In many other regards (like making sure the customer gets the product they want) they're clearly not at all customer-focused.

They won't address this until it begins to visibly impact their marketplace dominance.


Amazon’s slogan is “The most customer-centric company on Earth”. It seems like customer care should be a top priority. But it’s not. Especially for customers who pay Amazon for marketing and logistical services.


Sellers are customers too, but I think that in this context it means the people who make purchases on Amazon.


Amazon's customer service is legendary. It's why this whole thing is such a mystery. If Comcast were doing something so bad for customers, nobody would be surprised.


Legendary? Maybe in the past, but I’ve not seen anything special in the past few years. I’ve received counterfeits they won’t replace, only refund. USPS shipping ruins the 2 day guarantee, and ever fewer products seem to be guaranteed vs expected.

The worst was ordering a Netflix gift card for my mother, email never arrived with the code, and support said they couldn’t do anything. No resend worked, they refused to refund because the system said “sent”, and couldn’t give the code directly because they have no access. Netflix support tried surprisingly hard to help track down the card from their own system, but Amazon had blocks of codes and they couldn’t identify.

Escalated the issue twice to no avail, tried emailing the Bezos account and never heard a peep. My only option left is a chargeback, but then they are likely to just close my account permanently as a final f-you.

Results of course may vary, but their service is garbage imo.


As long as it is something that can be handled by throwing customer a bone, it is OK (nothing outstanding, though). Anything else, and Amazon would happily lie to you and promise things they know they can't do. That might be legendary, but not in a good way.


Someone on HN asserted that it is in Amazon's long-term interest by suppressing competition. Specifically, the arrangement they have now keeps prices lower than competitors can match.


Because consumers want lower prices. And consumers don't care that their anchor headphone hook is not made by the original manufacturer.

If the product is quality, and the price is good, the consumer is happy. Period. And that's all that Amazon cares about.


I think Amazon is determined to solve a hard problem. Fraud and counterfeiting are very difficult problems to solve, and many buyers are happy to buy a knock off product. In a way, many buyers and sellers are cooperating to optimize one metric. Amazon has also recently pushed for more direct relationships with far east manufacturers, so that a branded product from Hamilton Beach now has to compete with eerily similar products that carry brands no one has heard of.

Amazon seems determined to co-mingle its products, and to confront the problem of counterfeiting head on. One thing I would like to see is a feature that allows a buyer to "delete" or ignore a seller - I want Amazon to remember my "anti relationships" with sellers so I don't have to. Buying and selling is about relationships and reputations.

Another observation about marketplaces is that many buyers don't want quality. Some are extremely selfish. Not because they're bad but because they're desperate either emotionally or financially. We all enjoy getting a good value but some people are consumed by their selfish needs and are not interested in building a healthy balanced society or encouraging quality products. A successful attack on counterfeits has to filter [the behavior/reviews of] some buyers as well as some sellers, because some people can't see past their own selfish needs.

Finally, counterfeiting is an extreme form of re-implementing the designs of others. A large part of Free Software, for example, is historically rooted in re-implementing other people's designs (Linus & Unix, Stallman & LMI, Linus & Bitkeeper). It's not altogether destructive but if your only differentiator is that you're cheaper, then that's similar to Samsung's business. Making something that takes another's work and does something a little different with it, that's a lot better than a copy and also it's by definition not what we mean by "counterfeit". I think it's important to draw a distinction between someone who is competing with a possibly superior product and eroding a brand name (i.e. using a brand name as a descriptive word), versus someone who is making a product that is identical in appearance.


I bought some cologne from them and figured it was safe because the seller was posted as Amazon. Got it and the original barcode had been excised with a razor and replaced with a sticker. Scent and bottle were fake. When I wrote a dispassionate and factual review with pics it was removed with no recourse or explanation. Very sketchy.


They tend to remove the original barcode if they sell at a discount because otherwise the wholesaler/manufacturer will not sell to them again. This is not illegal. If anything it is an indication the product was real.


This makes no fucking sense. They could have just covered the old barcode with the sticker but someone had taken care to carefully cut it out.

As I wrote, the whole reason I got suspicious in the first place is the scent itself was wrong. The bottle, too. I had an old one I'd bought from a department store to compare against.


It needs to be cut out, the point being that the brand can't identify who they originally sold the product to. The brand may take a hard line of their authorized sellers diverting to the grey market. The authorized sellers want to keep being authorized sellers.


That may be, but this sounds more like that high-profile wine fraud case from years ago.

Get a bunch of empty branded bottles from wherever you can get them, fill them with rubbing alcohol and sell it for full retail price.

The UPC would have to be altered for proper fulfillment, but it may not have been the seller that cut it off-- they could have received it that way themselves, or it was used as a tester bottle at one point.


He said twice that the product was fake why are you insisting that its not?


That is no reason to remove a UPC barcode -- it is common to all instances of that product/size and doesn't reveal anything about its travels through the supply chain.


The contents of the box will differ, even if its only the language of the manual or the plug.

I've bought slightly cheaper goods from Romania where just above the barcode it said "Romania and Bulgaria only". I presume the bar code was different than the rest-of-EU one.


UPCs are not as universal as they once were. By removing an ounce from a can of soup (Walmart Rollback) or adding an extra hairbrush accessory to a Barbie to make it a Target Exclusive, the UPCs differ and become more specific to its destination in the supply chain. (It also makes it impossible to price match since the Target doll and Walmart soup are no longer technically the same item competitors sell, even though they practically are).

International edition textbooks also have different UPCs (but not ISBN) than the standard versions.


> They tend to remove the original barcode if they sell at a discount because otherwise the wholesaler/manufacturer will not sell to them again.

Why would the wholesaler care?


Often these are gray market items.

If I sell Product X in America for $50 and in China for $5, I would not want retailers selling the Chinese product in America.


If you mention counterfeit products in the review it’s automatically rejected in my experience. Thrice it’s happened to me.


Yes, reviews that are not of the genuine product are against Amazon rules and removed (often automatically).

Such situations are considered as seller-at-fault (they sold/shipped an incorrect product) and not generally applicable to the product as sold by any other sellers, too. Product reviews have to be generally applicable as they are not seller-specific.

You are expected to leave seller feedback (which affects the seller's star rating etc) instead of product review in such cases.


2 of those sellers were Amazon itself...so not much help there, but you’re right that’s why they reject them. The seller ratings don’t matter when they comingle though.

Next time I’m going to write a carefully worded one that doesn’t explicitly state that it was counterfeit.


How about a site that lists real reviews that amazon can't remove + a script to display reviews from this site alongside the amazon data.


I bought a baby product from amazon. It gave off an immense smell that made me noxious (I don't want to know what my baby was thinking). I threw it away and contacted the company. The company pointed out that the product I had is slightly different from their product and is a counterfeit. It is a huge problem. I don't buy baby products from amazon anymore. Once, amazon shipped me an opened can of any formula


Well, you know what he will say...the same thing everyone says. The same thing Google says about the rampant copyright theft their platform allows. The same thing Facebook says about bullying, fake news, and the like. The same thing Napster and PirateBay say about their services. The same thing Photoshop would say about people counterfeiting stuff using that. The same thing Bitcoin people (or for that matter, the Federal Reserve system) say about people using their coins for illegal purchases. The same thing the National Park Service says about people falling off of cliffs.

These are all just platforms, and cannot reasonably be held responsible for the action of all their users all of the time. And I think any reasonable-minded person, and most judges, have to see it that way too.

This "complicit" is a misuse of the English language, I think. Bezos is not in cahoots with the counterfeiters here. That is nonsense.

People have been accultured to expect some kind of protection everywhere, all the time. Well, guess what? It's a big world and there are a lot of scammers out there, and nobody can protect you all the time. You have to learn how to protect yourself.

Amazon's review system is one way to protect yourself. I think it isn't bad at all. Read what other people have to say about a product and the vendor before giving up your credit card info.


There's a bit of a difference between a platform company not being willing or able to rigorously monitor the behaviour of all their users and a retailer profiting from selling counterfeit goods and having a policy of intentionally continuing to profit from selling counterfeit goods in any jurisdiction the brand hasn't formalised the trademark after formal complaints...


You’ve got a valid point.

The only thing I cannot give Amazon a benefit of doubt for is when an item is sold under prime shipping but is commingled with the same items from different sellers and making it pure luck whether you receive a genuine item or a counterfeit.

I’ve received counterfeit flash drives, headphones, batteries and chargers, toiletries and some skincare items - all sold by Amazon and shipped/fulfilled by Amazon.

That’s pretty much textbook fraud.


After the first, let alone the second counterfeit item, why did you spend another dollar at Amazon?!?!


I did not know that they were counterfeit as they arrived. It first came to my notice when using a skincare item. People on the interwebs pointed out about spelling mistakes on the packet which tipped me off.

Every item I have listed above was found to be counterfeit in retrospective. I got a usb voltmeter to test the charger. Had to use f3 to test the flash drives (should’ve done them in the first place)

The headphones took the longest to figure out. It was a mid range sennheiser headphones which passed the authenticity check. It was a gift so I didn’t really test it immediately after purchase. 18 months later I gave them a try and they sounded off. Got them replaced by sennheiser and boom - massive difference in sound quality. I still wonder if somehow sennheiser was in on the scam because there product verification process told me that the headphones were authentic.

I have drastically reduced my purchasing on Amazon ever since I figured out the scale of counterfeit items being sold. That said there is some stuff which I can only buy on Amazon so can’t really cut them off.


What did you do about it, and how did Amazon (and whoever else) respond to your problem? I think this is a very important question relating to whether Amazon is indeed "complicit" or not...


As I mentioned in another comment, I discovered the counterfeit items very late - way past their purchase date and some of them already consumed.

Amazon refused to take responsibility and some items such as cosmetics are not eligible for replacement/refund. I tried to leave reviews but the first time around, the reviews were rejected and now they are just "black-holed" - meaning I can submit them but they never appear on the items review section.


I think that is a lame excuse. Of course it can be done, it’s just a matter of priorities and how many resources you’re willing to put in. To give you an example, nobody is saying that there are no more traffic fatalities or aviation accidents, but the numbers are declining even as traffic is increasing.

Another example is Apple’s app store that seems to be well managed, even though the number of apps is absurdly high.


My mom’s company sells on Amazon with her own branding. Much of what she sells is her own design and manufacture, and some of it white label and in her own branded packaging. Her company and brand are in the Amazon Brand Registry, which is intended to help defend merchants from counterfeiting and other types of branding abuse. Her company does not sell wholesale and is definitely the only source for products under the company brand.

When another party lists as “New”, counterfeit goods on her listings or Trademark-stuffs her brand name onto their listings, it should be quite simple to determine the other people are in the wrong and their listings should be deleted.

Here’s what really happens. First email mom sends clearly mentions all pertinent facts and requests the takedown. Five or so email exchanges (and about 4 days) later, all spent re-answering some subset of questions that were answered by her initial message, Seller Support finally refers the case to Amazon Legal (aka "Seller Performance"). And even then it's hit or miss if Seller Performance will delete the infringing listing.

She's even emailed jeff@amazon.com about all these shenanigans. So yeah, he's complicit.


Wow. Well that does suck then. But just because you emailed someone named "jeff" over there hardly means he read it..that's a stretch.


Amazon are complicit because they sell third party inventory while marketing it as "sold by and shipped from Amazon.com". That's deliberate deception.


Really the question is are they doing enough to stop it?

The National Park Service, at least, put up guide wires and a warning sign on dangerous trails.


Actually, when I was hiking in Zion a while back, the rangers said that putting up guide wires can lead to more bad outcomes, because people stop paying attention and assume that they're in a setting as safe as the sidewalks in a sleepy suburb.

So the original analogies that got this thread going may be on target after all. It's a turbulent world out there, and we've all got to watch ourselves.

I will say that Amazon's clothing offerings, especially in the "fulfilled by Amazon" sector, are turning out to be too dodgy for my tastes. Belts in particular are mis-sized in ways that even the reviews can't keep up with. Sometimes they're too long; sometimes they're too short; seldom do they fit.

Amazon does have an emerging quality problem, especially in low-ticket electronics. If they're watching pure P&L metrics, the return rate and associated costs may look tolerable in a period of rapid sales growth.

Not sure how much Amazon is tracking the fall-off in business from customers who had a bad experience. If we sputter a lot but keep buying, then the metrics won't really show a problem that needs correcting, will they?


Umm...not true. There is no rail on the edge of Half Dome..you can literally hang your feet off the edge, as I have done....and it was pretty cool.


At least on Half Dome it is hard to miss the fact that you are approaching the edge, and that this entails risk. Amazon is deliberately obscuring the risks by making it appear that products are vetted and/or endorsed, either by them or by customers, when in fact they are not. Even the review system, which you praised in your OP, is easily gamed.


A "FOAF" of mine tried to game the review system with a fairly intricate level of seperation and was busted for it... From just this experience (and from reading some stuff related to it on forums for independent authors trying to gain a foothold and get their name out there) I feel that Amazon is trying, and the "word on the street" is that they are increasing their efforts all the time.

It will never be perfect though, and that's my point. You have to face facts...there is no way Amazon (or EBay or anyone else) can possibly look at every item being sold on their massive platform. Buyer beware.


> there is no way Amazon (or EBay or anyone else) can possibly look at every item being sold on their massive platform

Amazon and Ebay are not comparable. What you say is true for Ebay, but not for Amazon. Amazon could vet its offerings just like every other retailer throughout history has done (that is, in fact, a big reason why retailers exist in the first place). The reason they don't is not because they can't but because it's too expensive. Their strategy is very deliberately to remove this piece of value that retailers normally add and hope nobody notices.

It's working. :-(


Ironically, despite complaining about the misuse of the word "complicit", you yourself misappropriate the word "theft". When someone watches a movie illegally they found via Google, the copyright owner is not forever prevented from using it or making money from it ever again.


I've been an Amazon customer since 1998, and this problem has shifted my buying away from Amazon, for categories where counterfeiting seems likely.

If they offered an option to simply never see any items with that (idiotic) co-mingled counterfeit-prone inventory management scheme, I'd happily pay a bit more to get things which I am confident went directly from the real manufacture, to Amazon, to me. Which of course is exactly what I do... by not shopping for such items at Amazon.

Truly the whole thing makes me wonder what kind of thinking could be going on. They have an amazing juggernaut of success going, all they have to do is not screw it up by doing anything especially stupid. Like this.


I used to do virtually all my buying on Amazon, their supply chain mess has moved me to about half. I honestly never thought I’d step foot in a Best Buy or Frys again, but for branded merchandise it’s far safer to do so.


Have done the same. Price match and same day in-store pickup is faster than Amazon at the same price.


Buries the lede. If you click through to the press release https://thecounterfeitreport.com/press_release_details.php?d...

> In repeated emails from Amazon opening with "Jeff Bezos received your email and I am responding on his behalf," The Counterfeit Report, a consumer advocate and industry watchdog, has been informed that inarguable counterfeit items will not be removed from many of Amazon's various 13 global websites. Amazon uses a crafty excuse: "Trademarks must be validly registered for European countries to take action on European nations" or "Your trademark must be in registered status in [each country the item is sold in]."

So they will actually let known counterfeits be sold freely in countries where the brand isn't trademarked.

Further, and worse IMHO, is this:

> For example, the counterfeit items below were repeatedly purchased from the same Amazon sellers and shipped to the USA.

> ... Replica current issue U.S. Secret Service, FBI and police badges are available on Amazon...

> Notices to Amazon management for of [sic] the alarming practice have been ignored. The items remain.


Over the past 5 years, Amazon had turned into a veritable minefield and I've come to treat it like I do when ordering from direct-from-China sites, like dx and banggood. Every department has their own unique problems riding on top of the problems that exist across all departments.

Since the start of Amazon carrying non-books, I've been perpetually amazed by their absolutely terrible product category breakdowns, lack of category enforcement, and piss poor filtering. They left these problems unchecked so long that they basically screamed "Game me. Nobody's watching."

I'm surprised that no one had been sent something dangerous because of these issues. Maybe a concerted community effort to get rat poison listed as the #1 best seller in all the candy categories would be a good wakeup call. And I wouldn't be surprised at all if it happened.


"Amazon’s official stance, as outlined by these e-mails, counterfeit products will continue to be listed on Amazon’s website in countries where the trademark covering the brand isn’t registered."

So they try to do what the law requires them to. The flaw in this approach is that consumers could end up with fake stuff in countries where trademarks aren't registered. Whilst that might be within the law, it's still a shitty experience for consumers.


You're assuming customers care about the manufacturer of the product at all.

For batteries, cables, earbuds, paper, dog toys, etc etc etc - the customer does not care who the manufacturer is as long as the item is good quality.


And there's the rub: as long as the item is good quality.

The main reason for trademarks, economically speaking, is to increase information flow in the marketplace. If some seller claims they have good quality products, you have to just trust them; if they have a trademark and you know that they have a reputation for quality, that trust can be much more accurate.

Where Amazon messes this up is in the intermingling of reviews and inventory for genuine and counterfeit trademarked products, so that customers can't tell whether they're getting Apple-quality or random-Chinese-manufacturer quality chargers, which will either be super-safe or will blow up their devices.

I'm totally okay with buying a battery from a third party, as long as the real manufacturer is clearly indicated and I can check up on the reviews of their build quality.


Actually, I've found that the best way to guarantee I'm buying a quality product is to shop by brand.

I assume that is highly but not completely correlated with manufacturer.


I'd prefer non-counterfit batteries. If one explodes, who is liable?


I recently bought Windows 10 Pro license from Amazon for $10 (normal price is $80). It had over 600 ratings, tens of positive reviews along the line "if it doesn't work immediately, phone Microsoft and they will fix it for you".

It worked immediately for me.

Apparently they are Windows licenses recovered from broken laptops and such, but anyway.


It seems like the only metric Amazon is optimizing for is number of items sold, and this seems to be the natural progression of a system where that is the primary goal.

Making a change that decreases the sale of counterfeit products is a change that reduces the sale of products, and in Amazon's case, also leased warehouse space (FBA), and who knows what else - all of which are likely negative metrics.

It's telling, that in the update to the Elevation Lab blog post, it's noted that Amazon doesn't allow 3rd party sellers to sell Amazon Basics products.

https://www.elevationlab.com/blogs/news/amazon-is-complicit-...


I generally support grey markets - including works-well-enough brand-imitating goods, and free trade that undermines unjust cartel/vice laws. Like when it clicks that the domain ipwatchdog.com isn't about the Internet Protocol, I just ready myself for the entrenched-interest crybabying.

But I can't figure out why Amazon is undermining their own brand with this co-mingling scheme! The idea of a trustable supply chain is basically the only thing a retail brand is in this day and age, and Amazon goes and directly undermines their own!

I can only surmise the sales on things where it doesn't matter (say fashion) dwarf the return shrapnel for things that it does. Or perhaps that Amazon's internal market-service based approach doesn't account for the externality of arbitraging away their own brand.

I think the only things keeping Amazon so prominent are the sunk cost effect of Prime, and most people not really understanding how many other easy-to-use web stores there actually are.


I was looking on Amazon for a Lightning / 3.5mm splitter so I could simultaneously charge and listen to my iPhone in the car. I found a listing on he first SERP that had 800+ 5-star reviews. No reviews whatsoever in the 1-4 star range. A closer look, all 800 of those reviews were dated within a 3 day period. Obviously fake.


Time for me to mention https://www.fakespot.com/


He also makes it really easy for IP owners to track down counterfeit supply chains. Free discovery to sue pirates.


Amazon's commingling of items from different sellers is simply insane.


Manufacturers selling on Amazon should include QR coded key that can be verified as authentic


Sounds like the start of a good idea; but a few implementation issues.

1) Steal one QR code, it can then be duplicated.

2) Works well for the situation where Amazon is not simply connecting you directly to the seller, but not when the seller ships directly to you.

(2) could be potentially modified to have brands insist that amazon themselves act as the final shipper (so it would be sent to their warehouses and verified).

(1) is tough one to crack. A transaction ledger would prevent the duplication problem; but may have scaling issues since you'd potentially need to verify the physical objects on receipt. It also doesn't deal with the situation where the product itself can be decomposed for parts and sold separately (like some electronics). Then the QR code can be used to sell an inferior replacement product (an empty box).

Though the QR code + transaction ledger is probably a necessary first step to dealing with this issue.


> A transaction ledger...

Did I hear AmazonCoin? /s


No, why? Why would Amazon issue a coin system? That is only needed when you need to incentivize people to perform computation on your behalf.


> makes it really hard to tell if you're buying something "shipped and sold by Amazon"

Not really, the filters on the left are your friend:

1. Check ELIGIBLE FOR PRIME 2. Select Seller=Amazon 3. If in doubt about the rating, run the URL through Fakespot [1].

This is not foolproof but I have found it effective. If I need a broader search I just start relaxing constraints.

[1] https://www.fakespot.com/


I bought 2 big cube ice trays, same brand, 1 was really bad quality, I thought it was most likely a cheap knockoff, never even thought it was fake or counterfeit.

Interesting...


If those who complain about Amazon would put their money where their mouth is, and stop buying from them, I'm pretty sure Amazon would have already done something about it. Regulation, sadly, is not gonna cut it. The only way for this to change is financial pressure.


I've found fakespot.com to be helpful (not foolproof) here. I'm starting to also use ReviewMeta.com.... Has anyone had good results from them?


I've made purchases from Amazon 1-2 times per week for the last few years, and have never once received an item that I suspected as counterfeit. I've ordered everything from food to everyday sundries to pretty esoteric lab equipment. I'm always very surprised by these threads on HN where people say that everything is counterfeit.

Cheap, no-name electronics are plentiful, of course. Not everyone can afford to shop at high-end electronics stores that stock only name brands. Sometimes the knockoffs work better than the original. Often times not. Why do people think the sky is falling?


There are lots of knock of bose headphone that sell for 300+ real, but 100 fake. The difference of a bose noise canceling, and generic brand is huge difference. The packaging of fakes is getting really good. Im not taking a risk from Amazon, when best buy has a lower chance of counterfiet inventory.

A seller can easily submit many fakes into inventory on amazon. But someone who returns a fake to best buy, but keeping the real device had to risk getting recorded, and can only do so at a slower rate of one item at a time.


Smells like an opportunity for anybody that can figure out how to define and filter on "genuine".


Can anyone verify this?


Counterfeit stuff on Amazon has been in the news so many times at this point Bezos being unaware would be like Zuckerburg feigning surprise about privacy concerns on Facebook.


“Your cost of making genuine products is also my opportunity”


You can’t believe anything this site says. They are constantly championing IP trolls. They are completely biased.


Interesting because the site has multiple references for its statements and you have none.


[flagged]


This is such rubbish. What do you think would happen to senior officers of Amazon if they pivoted the company to selling illegal drugs?


See what happens when big business wants to start selling marijuanna. It's no longer about being "tough on crime", it's about how quickly we can legalize it.


In that case I hope Sandoz wants to start selling one of it's famous products again soon...


Ridiculous comparison aside, Ulbrecht sold a trashbag full of mushrooms on the Silk Road.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/arstechnica.com/tech-policy/201...


He also attempted to hire an assassin.


And kept a diary where he admitted to all of this.


I thought that was debunked already. (If here is credible https://freeross.org )


Not remotely debunked. He definitely tried to hire multiple hits. He kept a diary of that part too. For his technical chops, he was not a smart guy.


Care to point to credible links? After I dig deeper, seems like he was not really took any sentence on the hit-hiring account. Isn't that absurd?


Nah, not really. Two things:

1. Although they didn't charge the attempted hits as separate crimes, they did take them into consideration when they sentenced him. His sentence was longer specifically because the judge believed there was a preponderance of evidence that he hired hitmen and intended to have five people murdered.

2. While under oath, nobody from Ross's side denied that he had hired the hits. They insisted that he was "role-playing" and didn't expect anyone to be killed. Except he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars (visible on the blockchain) to strangers after they sent him 'proof' that the hits were carried out. Proof that included random numbers that Ross provided to ensure the hits were actually carried out.

People who say Ross was a good guy are lying or are uninformed.

From the sentencing document (Page 17 onward: https://www.scribd.com/doc/283722300/Ross-Ulbricht-Sentencin...):

> Ulbricht's directed violence here is and relates to the murders for hire which he is alleged to have commissioned and paid for. The Court must determine whether these allegations have been demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence and I find that there is ample and unambiguous evidence that Ulbricht commissioned five murders as part of his efforts to protect his criminal enterprise and that he paid for these murders. There is no evidence that he was role-playing.

> The Court finds that the evidence is clear and unambiguous and it far exceeds the necessary preponderance findings, that Ulbricht believed he was paying for murders of those he wanted eliminated, and that he believed they had in fact been murdered. He was told his first victim had a wife and several children. That fact was known to Ulbricht and it is never mentioned by him in connection with his consideration of the murder. The consequences flowing from the murder of a man with his family is never, so far as the Court can tell from the record, considered.

> When he commissioned the hit on other of what he thought was one person, Tony76, he learned that Tony76 was apparently someplace -- located someplace with three other individuals. Ulbricht then agreed and paid for a hit on all four of them. There is no evidence in the record that he knew them -- these other three folks -- that he ever dealt with these three folks or had any beef with them at all. He commissioned the hit without regard to who they were, to the fact that they had a right to life. He never asked if they had families, he never expressed any concern for them at all.

> The evidence of this murderous intent and the actions specifically taken by Ulbricht to commission the hits is based on trial exhibits including Ulbricht's own journal and his chats with the individuals he hired to oversee the murders and it was not, as I have said, role-playing.

> He commissioned the hits, there is no discussion of hypotheticals, he paid actual funds. He paid hundreds of thousands of dollars which were, in fact, paid. He is told when the murders are completed, he was provided with a photo of the murder scene with random numbers that he had provided to the would-be assassins. That there had been no confirmation of any of the deaths does not eliminate the fact that he directed violence and directed the use of violence.


Peak HN, and it's not even 9:45 PDT


To the downvoters: the comparison isn't without merit imho.

The fact that the stuff one could source on SR was in most of all cases pure and free from common dangerous stretching agents (e.g. fentanly-laced cocaine) alone probably saved dozens of lives. If there were no SR, then people would have gotten their drugs from the street instead.

Meanwhile Amazon is happily selling Nazi merchandise (which, while legal, is simply disgusting) and stuff like counterfeit car parts, batteries, chargers and other electronics goods that literally can kill people. And, contrary to SR, there is no incentive for either Amazon or the 3rd party sellers to maintain proper business ethics. On SR, you'd deliver a bad charge of drugs and you'd be outta business because people would downvote you. On Amazon literally no one cares and even if you do manage to report stuff to them nothing happens.


there's not much to that article, it's all weasel-words, insinuation, and qualifiers. Amazon does have an obvious counterfeit problem, and I'd love to read a real account of just what is being done and why it's so ineffective.

tl;dr : skip it


BestBuy will price match Amazon, BH and others, for online and in-store pickup. Can be done in a browser chat session.


> There is something extremely simple Amazon could do about [counterfeit products]. If you have a registered brand in the Brand Registry and don’t sell the product wholesale – there could be one box to check for that. And anyone else would have to get approval or high vetting to sell the product, especially if they are sending large quantities to FBA. I imagine there are some algorithmic solutions that could catch most of it too… Why Amazon doesn’t do this is mind-blowing

Because producers would immediately check any box that needs to be checked in order to become the single supplier of their brand on Amazon. It's immensely valuable to control all sales on the largest online store in the world, while at the same time maintaining a discriminatory pricing structure on various markets without being undercut online by your own distributors.

Amazon would effectively let brand owners gouge their customers and reduce Amazon overall competitivity and appeal.




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