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.
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).
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.
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.
grey market products
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.
You have expressed and implied warranty rights on products, regardless of what their actual warranty paperwork days.
Some have, and have one. Though none that I know of were specifically for grey market products.
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.
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.
At least stores like Walmart (not counting their online which is a marketplace like Amazon) vet the in-store products.
They did accept it back though.
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?
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 arguably wrecking intolerable damage to customer trust, the one thing that is supposed to be being held above all others there.
I fully support it, fuck fashion brands and their ridiculous manufactured exclusivity.
I mean, they still don't exactly know how to enforce copyright.
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?
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.
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."
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).
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.
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.
This has made me more bullish about non-Amazon e-commerce.
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.
That such adapters are literally dangerous is clearly documented in Ken Shirrif's teardown:
Amazon did in fact try to avoid shipping fake glasses, but some may have gone out.
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.
Edited for clarity
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.
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.
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,.
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.
Thankfully, many places now price match with Amazon, so the need to use them is becoming less and less.
I recently came across a case 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.
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.
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.
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.
The fact that you even have to be that careful is a bad customer experience.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If the product is quality, and the price is good, the consumer is happy. Period. And that's all that Amazon cares about.
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.
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.
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.
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.
International edition textbooks also have different UPCs (but not ISBN) than the standard versions.
Why would the wholesaler care?
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.
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.
Next time I’m going to write a carefully worded one that doesn’t explicitly state that it was counterfeit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another example is Apple’s app store that seems to be well managed, even though the number of apps is absurdly high.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org about all these shenanigans. So yeah, he's complicit.
The National Park Service, at least, put up guide wires and a warning sign on dangerous trails.
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?
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.
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. :-(
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I assume that is highly but not completely correlated with manufacturer.
It worked immediately for me.
Apparently they are Windows licenses recovered from broken laptops and such, but anyway.
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.
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.
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.
Did I hear AmazonCoin? /s
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 .
This is not foolproof but I have found it effective. If I need a broader search I just start relaxing constraints.
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?
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.
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.
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.
tl;dr : skip it
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.