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Amazon’s share of the US e-commerce market is now 49% (techcrunch.com)
337 points by base 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 287 comments

Almost every Amazon thread on HN seems to devolve into stories of receiving counterfeit goods. I order around 10 items per week on Amazon and have never received anything counterfeit or suspect over a decade of shopping.

It takes very little effort to weed out bad actors imo. Perhaps this is a case of the negative experiences only being shared? Or...I'm better at online shopping. I'm guessing the former, but it gets tiring watching companies grow from loved to hated once they reach such a critical mass.

Nobody likes to root for the favorite I suppose.

I’m pretty sure I’ve left this exact same comment multiple times in the past. Can’t believe people complain, what kind of research are you doing, I’m better at hunting down real items and you’re bad at it, etc. I could not believe people would fall for counterfeit items.

Until one day, I got one. Brand name product that I could buy at Walmart, tons of 5 star reviews, sold by the real manufacturer, legit product page. But still I got a fake item. Obviously fake. I sent it back, no problem, got a real one in return. And then it happened again. And again. I buy probably 2-3 items per week on Amazon, and one item every month or two comes in a fake. SD cards are particularly awful, but brand name cables are just as bad. I’ve gotten fake bags and clothes too. I ordered a brand name, well reviewed shower curtain, got what was obviously a display model for a retail store because it was about 6” tall. Not a real shower curtain.

I’ve also had their terrible quality control go the other way: four times in the past year I’ve bought one item and received one case of the item. Still only charged for one, so it’s a win. But it’s a sign of awful quality control. I ordered one 128GB USB drive and got a case of 6. I ordered one bag of sunflower seeds and got a case of 12.

I used to leave comments just like you, telling everyone else that it’s their fault they get counterfeit items from Amazon. And then it started happening to me.

Amazon is hanging itself with its own rope here, and leaving the door wide open to places like Wayfair. We need more focused, curated, and transparent shopping sites. I am buying MORE tech from Best Buy these days, because they've done the curation. No matter what the reviews say -- and they're basically all useless, at this point -- BB isn't going to carry a turd that has a high rate of return on their precious shelf space. And, if that does happen, a physical return is even easier than repackaging something and dropping it off at the UPS store. I hope others follow in the wake of the mess that Amazon has allowed to fester, and capitalize on the opportunity to be more trustworthy.

The "being better at online shopping" bit was meant to be facetious. More to the point was that it feels like a case of the negative voices drowning out the satisfied, and I find this is often the case as companies grow from underdog startup to industry leading goliaths.

See the Golden State Warriors.

6 inches tall? What is this ... a shower curtain for ants?

All _my_ shower curtains have been 6". What have you been doing wrong?


I simply find the entire experience to be unenticing. Pay an ever increasing rate for 2 day shipping per year? Nah. Sift through an onslaught of phony reviews and hope You get some working cheap crap? Nah. It's just not that great. I'd rather drive to Trader Joe's or Safeway or even wait a week or so and order it directly from the company who sells the product.

I can see it being pretty awesome for small business users who need stuff like paper, pens, ink, etc on a regular basis - but honestly ever since I stopped compulsively buying crap on amazon I can't say that my life has gotten any worse. In fact I'm probably way better off.

> Sift through an onslaught of phony reviews and hope You get some working cheap crap? Nah.

A major reason I've stopped shopping Amazon are the reviews. It's crazy thinking that my on-line shopping changed from:

Researching for the best price (or searching for a coupon)


Researching if the reviews are actually "legit".

The last few products I purchased, where even "Fakespot" gave an "A" grade, the product was absolutely piss-poor in quality.

The price of everything seems to be ever increasing.

The cost of Prime seemed to be underpriced, and now it is just correcting.

> Pay an ever increasing rate for 2 day shipping per year

Just get a prime subscription and never pay for shipping again.

> Sift through an onslaught of phony reviews and hope You get some working cheap crap

I read reviews from all over the web and then just buy it from Amazon. Never got a fake product.

You're still paying for shipping; Prime is not free.

(Not only that but not all items on Amazon are eligible for Prime)

Indeed - I think that's what tjr225 was actually referring to:

"Pay an ever increasing rate for 2 day shipping per year?"

(Emphasis mine)

> It takes very little effort to weed out bad actors imo.

It's practically impossible to weed out the bad actors, since any time you order some thing sold and shipped by Amazon or FBA (unless you know the latter has opted out of commingling), you might get something sourced by a different party than the notional seller. Filtering out bad actors doesn't work when there is zero transparency about the only actor involved—the one sourcing the item—that matters.

Luck of the draw for fraud. You could be buying from the highest rated seller, but if their product is comingle you can get a counterfeit.

Additional, counterfeits can be good enough that you don't know it's fake.


Would denoting if a seller under FBA is using the commingling service help solve this issue, or would that negatively effect the benefits Amazon reaps from this type of inventory model?

Exposing which FBA sellers commingled would lead to avoidance of those sellers by quality conscious consumers, which would lead to more opting out, which would drive up costs and prices on Amazon. Preference for commingling is a deliberate choice by Amazon that consumer transparency on sourcing and avoiding fraud is less important than minimizing prices.

A seller can opt out of comingling, but it costs the seller money. I assume amazon calculated the increase cost of the inventory control and pasts those cost on, so it won't drive down Amazon's profit.

Since Amazon doesnt label which seller opts out, it doesn't give much incentive to do it.

It also depends on what you're shopping for. If its skincare, haircare, korean beauty items, accessories like sunglasses than theres a greater likelihood of running into counterfeit items.

Batteries, car parts and model-specific computer parts (laptop chargers, etc) also have high rates of fraud.

For batteries, there's so much counterfeit on Amazon, it's even difficult to find real ones.

USB sticks are rife. I had an AV project this past week; needed 40+ media players for TVs around a convention space that needed a USB stick to hold a small MP4 file.

Ordered several sets of '5-Pack' PNY USB sticks over several days, first sets the write time was 1 minute, but the second/third orders the write times were abysmal taking 5-7 minutes.

Yep. Thanks to amazon's comingled inventory

This bit me the other day, ordered a Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD and got the Pro model instead. Returned it and ordered off eBay for a bit over $100, figure if I'm going to deal with fakes, might as well snag a deal.

Yeah, there really must be some kind of alternative "even worse timeline" that these people live in. There are shady sellers on Amazon but all evidence indicates that the vast majority of Amazon shipments (I'm guessing 99%) are fine. In the last 20 years (!) I can think of only a single Amazon order that was not counterfeit but clearly suspect. I contacted Amazon via chat and not only did they refund it immediately they sent out a superior replacement for free. (This was a case where, I think, Amazon may have recognized some legal liability on their part.)

> Nobody likes to root for the favorite I suppose.

Paranoia is an acquired taste. There's certainly a powerful self-validation at work when you can count yourself among one of the few, wise ones who haven't fallen for the popular lie. Amazon conspiracy theories are a big thing, especially among the essential oils crowd, who are already prone to conspiratorial thinking.

The extraordinary growth of Amazon actually speaks to the fact that most people -- 100 million households and counting -- are pretty happy with the service.

Hi Jeff!

I'm the same. I do probably 90% of my non-food shopping on Amazon (and have for years) and I've had only one minor bad experience.

I never did, and then I started to. Especially clothes. I love Amazon, but they absolutely 100% need to get on top of this, as they've started losing significant business from me.

Time and again I can't find what I'm looking for in brick and mortar, but it's on Amazon. Original companies don't always have a direct sales arm.

I avoid buying gadgets from Amazon, but other than that... ::shrug:: They've got it nailed. Worlds better than brick and mortar for non-boutique goods.

I went shopping for some cal king bedsheets last week. Bed Bath & Beyond had 1 set - the warmest sheets possible, in the middle of summer. Macys had 0. Target had 0.

Then I went on amazon - the only sheets that were on prime with a good rating were $60 sets of... dubious quality, and half the ratings seemed like they were fake (almost all "recent" reviews were 1 stars). I ended up finding a (much more expensive) specialized sheet co, but am waiting 2 weeks for the delivery (4 day delivery cost $30!!).

It really kind of sucks, because I used to rely on Amazon for this sort of stuff - I WANT to buy stuff on Prime but I might as well be shopping at a street market half the time.

It was very weird reading your comment, because I went down the same rabbit hole a few months ago. Nothing in BB&B, Target, or Macy's. Lots in Amazon, but all looked fake. (3,500 thread count? How dumb do I look?)

Ended up getting them in a really weird B&M place. I'd never buy sheets on Amazon.

Also, I'll probably never get another calking sized bed.

Would either you, or the post above you, mind sharing where you ended up getting your sheets from?

My wife is obsessed with nice sheets, but feels like what we got from Amazon isn't what they said it was. I didn't even realize until now, how that might be true. So I'd like to buy some nice sheets from a reputable source. I don't mind waiting for shipping.

My wife and I are obsessed with nice sheets. I will give you two recommendations:

* Winter - flannel from Land's End. Super thick, warm, and comfortable. They feel like felt. $100-$150.

* Summer - linen (flax) from Linoto. These sheets are possibly the second thing I would grab in a housefire, after the baby. It takes a little getting used to sleeping on linen but they somehow are always perfectly warm or perfectly cool no matter what the temperature. $400, which sounds crazy for bedsheets but they are worth every single penny. We bought a second set from West Elm for half that but it was a mistake; the difference in thickness and quality is dramatic.

Ended up getting it from a place that liquidates casino furniture.

In addition to used stuff, you can get some new things because the casinos buy so much extra and hold it in a warehouse for when it's needed.

When the casinos redecorate or rebrand, the old furnishings, etc... go to the liquidator. They don't sell old sheets or mattresses, because that's illegal.

I also landed a (used) desk from some suite at Caesars Palace that looks like it's straight out of a 1960's Elizabeth Taylor movie, with lions on it and everything. I feel like a king at my computer. Also, a bunch of those folding wooden luggage racks for a buck a piece. Very useful.

Mind sharing how would I find such a reseller? Any links?

what is the website please. there seem to be many sites that claim the same thing.

Neither of the above posters, but I've purchased sheets I was pleased with (although expensive) following Wirecutters guide: https://thewirecutter.com/guides/buying-sheets/

I used that site, but was dismayed to find they didn't have cal king in most of their recommendations.

Fwiw, I got the brooklinen core sheets based off their recommendation a while back, and they're awesome. Expensive, but definitely comfortable to sleep on.


I made another comment, but these are some of the best sheets I’ve ever had: Peru Pima - 415 Thread Count - 100% Peruvian Pima Cotton - Percale - Bed Sheet Set (California King, White) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BSWKHE2/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_uHts...

Thread count isn’t everything. These use a percale weave so the individual threads are larger so it feels much higher quality. I highly recommend them. Especially at the price.

I purchased Cariloha "Resort" sheets from their retail store in SF and love them. Everyone who has slept in our bed (Cariloha sheets + a Purple Mattress) all rave about the softness. Bought three more sets, all from their on-line website. Amazon sells them, but the color selection isn't as large as their own website.

I'm neither of the previous posters, but I'm quite happy with my recent purchase of Brooklinen sheets. I was referred by a roommate who also is a happy customer. I got my mom some pillows from there for Mother's Day as well. I'll have to check back in to see what her verdict on them is.

shameless plug: https://share.brooklinen.com/x/vtsX0h

I got mine from crate and barrel. You might pay a little for the name, but they are holding up really good.

Belo Gray from link below, half off right now https://www.crateandbarrel.com/belo-sheet-sets-and-pillow-ca...

Anyone in the UK looking for recommendations, I've been buying sheets from https://beaumontbrown.com/ and love them. No affiliation with them.

Costco sheets, especially sateen cotton, are cheap and amazing.

I went with Parachute after looking at a few other brands. I wanted Egyptian cotton/percale - I have no idea how it'll work out, but given their responsiveness on review sites to defects it should be okay. Not an endorsement, I honestly don't know whether I'll like them.

Bedsheets are a SUPER competitive niche on Amazon, one of the most competitive.

The entire segment is rife with sellers using blackhat techniques. It goes way beyond faking reviews and lying about thread counts.

Sheets are surprisingly hard to buy. The best sheets I have ever bought were 300 count from IKEA. I swear to god they feel like a much higher thread count

It's almost like thread count doesn't correlate with quality. It's like contrast ratio and monitors, remember that?

I bought some great pima percale sheets on Amazon. They’re actually the best sheets I’ve ever owned. I was not expecting to find quality sheets there either. They’re actually available for California Kong’s too: Peru Pima - 415 Thread Count - 100% Peruvian Pima Cotton - Percale - Bed Sheet Set (California King, White) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BSWKHE2/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_uHts...

The thread count looks low, but it’s percale so it’s actually a better woven fabric overall (from what I’ve read).

Just go directly to Ali express and skip the FBA resellers. Same selection as Amazon, 1/3 the price, slower shipping.

Amazon needs to sell a lot of counterfeit goods or their model fails. They must both collect sales tax and pay shipping costs so they are not cheaper by default.

It's interesting how they reinvented the Walmart model of selling low quality knock offs of 'name brand' items. The difference is Walmart gets company's to sell lower quality goods through them where Amazon get's third parties to fill their sales channels with counterfeit goods.

I'm not entirely sold that it's entirely on purpose, but that's a high bar, and I don't doubt perverse incentives play a role in some way.

It feels like Amazon is missing the boat by not using their market position to institute some sort of manufacturer's vouching system, where sellers could try to achieve some verified status (for a specific item), and that could be used to good effect.

Reply-All just did another podcast on Amazon weirdness[1], where listing hijacking was explained. In short, since Amazon will collapse identical items into a group, and within that group show in some order (maybe by price), people can get knockoff items identified as real items (even if it's just one guy selling his own stuff he manufacturers), and their knockoffs will affect the impression people have of the product and be listed higher if it's cheaper.

1: https://www.gimletmedia.com/reply-all/124#episode-player

These things are not the same.

I dont care if Amazon sells Folex watches, but it's fraud to say they are Rolexes and charge Rolex prices.

Walmart items may not be the best quality, but what you see is what you get.

I genuinely don't have this issue unless I'm looking at gadgetry or oddly specific niches of highly commoditized commodities, e.g., toasters.

I may just intuit what to do and what to buy. That can happen. :)

Consider bamboo sheets for cool

Couldn't agree with you more. I wandered through a big-box store not long ago for 15 minutes searching, I kid you not, for AAA batteries. I'd even bought them at the same store before, but the powers that be decided that store layout wasn't profitable enough, or whatever prompts such decisions.

When I say this, please understand that I'm saying this as a person who would've wandered for 15 minutes as well -- but yeah, you COULD just ask someone who works there where the batteries are.

you COULD just ask someone who works there where the batteries are.

If it was Home Depot, he'd probably wander around for 45 minutes trying to find someone who works there.

Home depot helpfully puts aisle and bin numbers for products on their website if you search for things in-store. I also can get help at home depot pretty quickly, as long as you're not there on the weekend (when they're just completely slammed, victim of the own success is what I call it).

Your Home Depot is staffed radically different than mine.

It doesn't matter when I go there - mid-day, mid-week; or prime time, weekend. There's virtually no employees.

I usually end up going to the Customer Service desk and waiting 10 minutes while they summon someone on the radio/phone thingy.

Once the only person in the entire store was the lady at the self check-out aisles. And she couldn't help me because she wasn't allowed to leave her station because she was the only person in the store.

Can confirm. I always shop at the second closest HD, because the difference in on-floor customer service is night and day.

Try a different location if it's not much further away.

Good. Today i called Amazon to complain something i ordered never arrived. No questions asked refunded. Needed it urgently so went to a brick and mortar store down the road to buy it. 3x the price, and they took 15 minutes to process my sale. If anyone wants to match the amazon experience anywhere else in my life, take my money!

Hopefully you don't buy anything that goes on or in your body from Amazon.

Fake Dove Soap: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17217290

Fake Diapers: https://jenniferlabit.com/2016/07/21/counterfeit-baby-produc...

Fake Eclipse Glasses: Tons of stories

Amazon has a bad counterfeit problem. The way they co-mingle stock is crazy. You can't even trust reviews because the review might be describing a completely different product.

EDIT: Counterfeit books! http://davidgaughran.com/2017/06/03/amazon-has-a-fake-book-p...

If I could get back every block of 15 minutes I've spent on Amazon scrolling through the endless amount of options in order to avoid buying some crappy Chinese knock-off version, I'd be happy.

For home decor it is kind of amazing. Some of the higher quality knock off brands have become good products in their own right.

My floor lamp is a knock off of a famous designer lamp. The particular knock off I have is rather desirable, to the point that other companies are making inferior knock offs of it!

Searching through the gunk is incredibly time consuming though.

If you don't mind waiting for shipping... Aliexpress is your friend for knockoffs at a better price. Buyer beware though, since you are dealing with Chinese sellers.

Like you are not already dealing with them on Amazon and Ebay?

I always pick the sellers that ship within the USA. It costs a few dollars more, but easier refunds and faster arrival.

And don't forget resellers stealthily jacking up the price of commodities.

I used to buy indiscriminately from Amazon. If Amazon had it, it was the best price. Why bother shopping around?

I've been bitten multiple times now with ordering something only to realize some reseller has jacked up the price and I didn't notice.

(e.g. buy baby wipes for $10, later re-order same baby wipes and think "hm, $18.50 seems higher than I remembered. Oh well, I need baby wipes!")

So now I shop around for everything. Since Amazon is "forcing me" to shop around, I've started to exclude them out of spite.

I get it, it's capitalism. If some Amazon reseller (including the "fulfilled by Amazon!" resellers) dupes me, I'm the sucker. Amazon's not to blame for capitalism. But... I still blame them. :)

There are a few browser extensions that automatically compare prices from some major retailers based on whether they ship to you.

Give one of them a try, sometimes they find you nicer prices.

I like the idea, but the privacy implications scare me away. My Amazon activity and data says everything personal about me, including medical conditions.

Amazon keeps constantly increasing fees in their marketplaces or warehouses, then there is a brutal competition on price via algorithmic repricers, so resellers try to compensate wherever they could. Increased price could be also a consequence of Amazon kicking out cheaper sellers and the remaining ones without doing anything by using a repricer would set a higher price, not mentioning some advanced repricers using game theory to find equilibrium as well.

A friend of ours gave us a painting of Cú Chulain for our wedding. That painting was her specialty that went through many prototypes. She put prints of it on Amazon and within a few weeks hand made copies were being sold from far eastern sellers. She spent two year battling to get those sales taken down. In the end it only stopped because the sellers moved onto other pictures and not because Amazon took any action.

Or razor blades. Bought some Gillette Fusion 5 blades on Amazon a few years ago for a good price.

Didn't take long to realize that no way were they the real thing. First shave was horrible and it was downhill fast from there.

So has the dept of commerce, or homeland security, or whoever is responsible in gov't for suppressing counterfeit goods ever raided an Amazon warehouse? Does there need to be complaint by the manufacturer first?

For stuff being sold domestic you go through the FBI, for stuff being imported you go through CBP and the USITC. For intellectual property it's OIPR. (I clear international freight through Customs for a living)

I would imagine Mr. Bezos figured out how to navigate Washington successfully long ago.

Do any independent websites sell counterfeit? If so, then we're just comparing isolated cases on a large ecommerce site with what?

Independent (non-aggregator) web sites generally have some control over what suppliers they draw from. So of course there are counterfeits out there, but they’re the exception, unless selling counterfeits was the seller’s intention. You can generally judge based on how reputable the seller is.

Amazon sources indiscriminately, because they’re not a seller in the traditional sense; they’re basically a flea market with warehousing and logistics. So you have no guarantees one way or another whether the thing they’re selling is genuine or not.

I get my diabetes supplies through Amazon– generic glucose test strips and pen needles I use for insulin. The price is a fraction of what they cost at the pharmacy (even with insurance).

I have no problem recommending them to anyone. Quality is acceptable and more importantly it's the only option at a price point I'm willing to pay.

Edit: Thanks to whoever downvoted this.

How do you know the quality is acceptable on something like test strips? I don't know anything about the specific here, but I would have thought that you especially would care about brand for single-use test supplies, because you just have to trust the manufacturer regarding their false positive/negative rates.

(this sounds more combative than I mean because internet text is hard - i'm genuinely curious)

There is a solution of known "sweetness" you can put on test strips. If the result comes up in a set range, they're acceptable. Basically my assumption is that if a random strip or 2 from a container is good, they're all good. Also, knowing blood sugar EXACTLY isn't really something I'm interested in. I want to know trends and where I'm roughly at.

I don't think I ever got a counterfeit item on Amazon. The fact that there are news stories about specific counterfeit items (and not the problem in general), indicates to me that it's not as widespread.

I utterly loathe the horrible photocopied books which sometimes turn up in place of proper printed editions. Have become better at spotting them, but it's a really unpleasant situation which dissuades proper publishers from reissuing out-of-print public domain works.

More often than not, electronics stuff I've bought on Amazon have been unsatisfactory in some way, such as: counterfeit, was obviously returned by someone else, parts missing, obviously broken, etc.

Their return policy helps with this, but I don't have anywhere near this level of problem at Best Buy or Newegg. So I don't buy electronics on Amazon anymore, even if they're cheaper.

I can't understate how disappointed I am that NewEgg is offering 3rd party sellers access now...

I've gotten counterfeits of other products (for example, I once got a counterfeit DVD boxed set), and a lot of products I look at will have reviews noting that they received a counterfeit and what to look for to make sure you're actually getting the product listed. It seems to be reasonably common.

I've never seen an avalanche. The fact that people talk about specific mountains where avalanches happen (and not the avalanches in general), indicates to me that it's not as widespread.

This is what your argument looks like when put through reductio ab asurdum. It's certainly fine for you to be weary of these claims since your experience has been different, but to say this is indicative of anything when it's your 1 anecdote vs all of the other anecdotes is a claim with little force behind it

Based on the number of reactions I was completely wrong, but my point was: You are not going to see a news article about avalanches. News is always about infrequent events.

>I don't think I ever got a counterfeit item on Amazon.

Well you wouldn't, if the counterfeit's were any good.

Fair point, but if I can't tell that the good is fake, even after using it, I don't care that much.

It could be I'll order Dove soap, get counterfeit, and incorrectly assume Dove soap sucks, but mostly I'm ordering brands too obscure to bother faking, or brands I'm familiar enough with to realize the bad counterfeit isn't the real thing. (But like ma2rten, I don't think I've ever gotten a counterfeit.)

> Fair point, but if I can't tell that the good is fake, even after using it, I don't care that much.

Heavy metal poisoning may take years to show effects.

Shoddily made laptop chargers may be a fire/shock hazard that kill in 100/1,000,000 instead of 1/1,000,000 cases.

Not every dangerous counterfeit is immediately obvious as such.

If you're slathering it all over your body but you have no idea where or how it was made, do you suppose that you might suffer from deferred regret at some point in the future?

(cf. today's talcum powder news item)

Doesn’t happen enough to stop using Amazon. Sorry.

Bought something from Amazon, delivery status said was delivered on a Wed. but no such delivery. Got busy and forgot about it, two days later, bam! Delivery from who else, On-Track. On track is deceitful for some reason falsely announcing a delivery that won’t be made for a day or two in the future, I’m guessing to meet delivery SLOs.

Amazon is better than brick and mortar because Amazon fails to deliver after a week, but a brick and mortar store fulfilled in 15 minutes?

15 minutes of synchronous time waiting at the store versus 1 week of asynchronous time while you live your life though.

For most random things, getting there and back aside, find the item in a huge store is a pain in the ass. On amazon, it's literally a 10s search query.

Also, for more common items such as shampoo or litter, grocery stores have literally 30 different types of them, which can make it hard to choose. By having ratings, reviews, information and q&a right there, it makes choosing the right product much easier.

>>15 minutes of synchronous time waiting at the store versus

Uhh, what about traveling to and from the store? Or have you invented teleportation?

And on top of that, what happens when the bricks and mortar store goes out of business and you have nowhere to go when Amazon is not sending it to you and "need it urgently".

Sometimes I shop at the local BestBuy to delay that inevitable day when Amazon is the only thing available.

Amazon Prime Now, while not available everywhere, has worked fairly well for me, and maybe soon we'll have drone deliveries too.

Same, but with Amazon, I've been on hold on the chat now for at least half an hour. The rep can't say if the order will be cancelled if I press the cancel button myself. It will never be delivered, that's for sure. Amazon's delivery service simply doesn't even attempt delivery. I'm pretty sure this kind of experience is hard to replicate simply because it's so bad. Even cancelling an order is hellish nowadays requiring a supervisor. What a shitty fucking company. And worse, it's the only place to buy a ton of stuff.

> Today I called Amazon

Please share the phone number you used to call Amazon. Thanks!

Mmmh. On boxing day I ordered some wifi-extenders, which was in stock. It was a good deal. When I received the order confirmation, it wasn't in stock anymore, they said they'd get it to me as soon as possible. Six months went by and occasionally I got updates they're still trying to get the item.

After six months I tried to tell them that I waited enough, and that they should actually deliver the item. They told me they cannot offer me the item, because it's not available. I told them it's actually available on their own store, at double the price. They told me that's different sellers, so even though they're selling it on their website, it's not actually their website or something. They graciously offered that I could cancel so that I could order it from them again at double price.

I tried to explain to them that I we've made a sales contract, and that it seems they want to unilaterally cancel it by simply not doing anything about it. I also tried to explain to them the issues of bait-and-switch sellling, and even cited from the government website (I'm in Canada, consumer protection is slightly stronger in the states). (Note that six months after boxing day, I can't get boxing day specials from competitors anymore)

In the end I spoke to several people who went around in circles over and over. Eventually somebody offered to give me store-credit that would cover the difference when cancelling the order and making it again immediately.

...I don't get why everybody thinks Amazon has great customer service. They don't even seem to believe in following basic consumer protection laws.

Was the item shipped and sold from Amazon? I admit they don't make this distinction very clear on their product page, and they make it way too easy to be a third-party seller on their site, but it makes a huge difference. Chances are you were talking directly to a third-party seller and not Amazon. I have had nothing but great experiences dealing with Amazon directly.

Sold and (never) shipped from Amazon. I only spoke to Amazon reps.

Amazon search, reviews, product ratings have been completely gamed by third party sellers.

Type in "wireless headphones" and the top results is completely full of counterfeit or knockoff goods. It's shocking how little news this makes in major publications.

It seems to me that they are working to solve this in creative ways. For example, on a recent Amazon search, I noticed the results page included embedded recommendations from the Wirecutter, which is review site owned by the New York Times.

First page of results was pretty good. I didn't go deeper.

I think when you're buying an expensive item, you should do your research first on the internet, find the best item for you and then order it.

Google search results are absolutely littered with fake review sites that have never actually have tested the products they claim, usually just reiterating the Amazon product pages (which is only obvious once you know that this is a thing). It's extremely hard to find a real review in a product category you are not an expert in to the point where I have just given up.

Something i've had success with is finding the appropriate subreddit for that product category - they'll often have a "simple questions / what should i buy " sticky thread or the sidebar will link to some infographics about the established best buys at various pricepoints.

most of the expensive products (laptops, headphones, ...) have tens of youtube reviews

I have the mindset now that when I want something that I would otherwise look on Amazon for, I search for a specialty online retailer who will (of necessity) beat Amazon and local businesses in all respects, from reliability to selection. For instance, if I want chocolate, there is a site devoted to chocolate. If I want car parts & accessories, there are sites specializing in that. If I want computer cables, there is a site specializing in those. It's a given that everybody has to compete with Amazon, so non-Amazon retailers, if they're well established, tend to be really good in their niche. I think this is actually an overlooked positive externality of Amazon's dominance.

GP's message is about lack of legit reviews on Amazon when searching for wireless headphones. You are talking about doing an internet research for wireless headphones. They are two separate topics.

I think your description is unclear... order it from where?

either from amazon or from the brand's store

I see what you are trying to say: "Do your research somewhere other than amazon", but one of the major problems is if you order from amazon you risk receiving a counterfeit item(whether expensive or not).

When I wanted to buy a Hakko Soldering Iron, I heard that there are counterfeit ones on Amazon. So instead of getting 2 day shipping, I got the nearly 1+ week shipping direct from Hakko. But I know it'll be authentic.

Same with Adafruit products, and I'm increasingly noticing that if I want to make sure something absolutely won't be fake, I buy direct from the retailer.

It sucks. You get spoiled by Amazon's amazing "free" shipping especially if you're a prime member.

But it's more important to me that a product is genuine. I'll learn to be a bit more patient.

This weeks episode of Reply All [P] talks about how Amazon counterfeits, how it's easy to do, no recourse and be bundled along with the authentic products for sale. It was very interesting.

[P] https://www.gimletmedia.com/reply-all/124

Now the problem is starting to get mass attention outside of tech. I understand that this is a hard problem but it's been years now and there's no solution in sight. The practice of mixing the same products from different vendors just needs to end.

Key normal person quote from the podcast:

"It just feels like this magic store that you guys thought it was, is definitely isn't what it is today. It seems like a place that puts you in touch with some dude selling tongs in Hong Kong, and maybe you'll get a great pair or maybe you'll get ripped off. [Amazon] is just like any other website now"

This mixed with their now crippled customer service has almost turned the Amazon experience into ebay.

It's really not a hard problem to solve.

Amazon simply benifits from it so they have zero reason to stop.

Should Amazon add the concept of "Verified" resellers?

A big part of the problem is co-mingled inventory. When you buy X from seller Y, you do not necessarily get the X that Y physically shipped to Amazon. You get an X with same SKU from Amazon's collection.

Right, hence why "Verified" would be nice. An SKU should allowed to be merged if both are Verified or both are unverified.

They already have this through "gating". But not every brand takes part in it.

just wanted to mention that. Indeed a very insightful episode, that explained a lot of comments I've seen lately.

Conterfeit items are a problem. But even with legit items, I always check elsewhere: quite often, Amazon is not the cheapest.

For items fulfilled by other vendors, I google that vendor's name, see if they have a site. Usually, even with shipping it's cheaper on the vendor's site than on Amazon (I guess that's the fee levied to sell on Amazon, and the rounding involved to do "free shipping").

Amazon excels at convenience, reviews and return policy. Often they are great on pricing. But they are no longer my one-stop shop.

Me too. Ironically the one thing I still buy on Amazon is books. I do try to support local bookstores but we don't have many other than B&N and it's not just a small markup, books can cost twice as much there. It's really hard to justify $60 vs. $30 for the same thing.

I've heard that books also have a high counterfeiting rate on Amazon. Over lunch with Paul Horowitz a couple of years ago he mentioned that he's had to fight to get counterfeits of "The Art of Electronics" taken down.

I read on here a while back about FBA inventory getting comingled, but I'm unclear on whether Amazon's own inventory gets comingled as well. Anecdotally I haven't received a counterfeit of anything shipped and sold by Amazon.

I'm not sure about the US situation but you can't be sure even with books: The scientific publisher Springer switched to a print on demand model. This is generally fine but Amazon apparently prints those books themselves after ordering (it says so on the last page) and both printing and binding are of abysmal quality, much worse than what you get elsewhere for the same price.

There's a lot of counterfeit stuff on Amazon. I ordered a Pulltaps corkscrew and the chrome-plated metal part [1] was instead made of crudely bent sheet metal that didn't look remotely authentic. After that I mainly use Amazon for small household consumables. I also heard stories about counterfeit Mitutoyo calipers [2] so I didn't even consider trying Amazon for those.

[1] http://cellarsofwine.com/img/pulltex-pulltaps-double-hinged-...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnDype-j3hk

> After that I mainly use Amazon for small household consumables.

I got fake Dove soap from Amazon.

Holy cow, I'd love to know what is in fake soap that is cheaper than real soap. Someone should do an in depth analysis on that.

No quality control and nobody checking that it's not going to give you chemical burns.

no marketing budget.

The messed up thing is that I ordered a product SOLD AND SHIPPED BY AMAZON.COM and it was counterfeit. That's the day I stopped buying stuff for my kid on Amazon. Now I drive to Target and waste an hour each time but it's better than using some counterfeit product on her.

I just realized for the first time, typing this comment, that I could order online from Target, and I've never tried it. Shows you how dominant of a position in e-commerce Amazon has. I'll have to try it.

You can also get a debit-based target RED card (no credit app required) and get the same 5% discount and other benefits as the credit-based version.

Note: At the time it was required to bring a voided cheque to complete the process.

Target order online and pickup in store is not bad. The pickup experience is a little slow, but one thing I've noticed is the online prices are cheaper than in-store (in california at least).

> The messed up thing is that I ordered a product SOLD AND SHIPPED BY AMAZON.COM and it was counterfeit.

Sold and shipped by Amazon is exactly as dangerous as Fulfilled By Amazon that hasn't opted out of commingling, because it is commingled with FBA.

> Now I drive to Target and waste an hour each time but it's better than using some counterfeit product on her.

Why not online at Target.com or Google Express (which has Target as one of its stores?)

Why not shop at Target.com? I've always gotten very good service there and you can "link" gift cards to your online account so if you get a Target gift card you can't lose it or forget to use it.

I was just looking at jansport backpacks for my kids and all of them had "jansport sent this back as not authentic" reviews

It's really bad with things like SD cards. I've gotten ones that are half their stated capacity, and ones that are supposed to be V90 class (90MB/sec write) that barely make 10MB/sec.

Imagine going on a trip nearly 1000 miles away and finding out after the fact that you got a crappy fake SD card from Amazon that made 90% of your photos unrecoverable.

Happened to me. Once.

Can't everyone just pay attention to the seller if they're worried about fake goods? Just make sure you're buying an SD card fulfilled by Amazon sold by Samsung if you're worried, not from 3rd party seller.

If it's fulfilled by Amazon, it may be commingled with inventory from other sellers, depending on the seller's settings that purchasers can't see.

But when you're buying an item it always shows who the seller is, just don't purchase the item if it doesn't show the actual brand of company vs. some random seller name. I've never purchased a scam item from Amazon and I've had an account since 1999.

I'm not sure if you understand what commingled inventory means.

When inventory is commingled, Amazon puts all of the sellers' products (for a given product ID aka ASIN) into one urn. When a user makes a purchase of that item from any of those sellers, Amazon retrieves an item from the urn and ships it to the purchaser.

As a purchaser of items sold by multiple sellers with fulfillment by Amazon, it's not possible to know if each seller has their own urn, or if it's a single urn for multiple sellers. The distribution of the urn by source is also unknown.

I won't purchase easily counterfeited objects from Amazon, unless there is only one seller listed, and if that seller is either Amazon or an account that seems like the manufacturer. A random Samsung sd card[1], though; who knows . Something like this Anker usb car charger [2] looks reasonable (I'm not specifically endorsing Anker, usb chargers are just a product in a crowded, junky space, and Anker is a brand that's trying to present itself as selling good products.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B06XX29S9Q/

[2] https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00VH84L5E/

The problem is that Fulfilled by Amazon items have co-mingled inventory, so items bought from amzn_bob_1985 may actually be coming from stickers_on_alibaba_crap99's comingled inventory. If you do receive fake goods, there's no guarantee that it's actually the fault of the specific seller you purchased from.

Amazon mixes their own inventory with the third-party sellers. Even if says "Sold and shipped by Amazon" on the checkout page they will ship whatever item they find most convenient. It could be sourced by them or added to their warehouse without any verification by a random seller. There is no indication during the checkout whose item you get (likely they don't even know it themselves at that stage).

How is it that somebody here will always manage to blame the victim, no matter how obviously absurd that is?

Amazon was originally the seller for everything they offered. In an important sense, they still are: we still shop on their site, still give them money, and still mostly receive the goods from them.

Amazon could have chosen differently, but didn't, because they were looking to dominate e-commerce. they set it up like this, and could undo it in a moment if they wanted. If you're looking to blame somebody, blame the person with the most power over the situation, not the person with the least.

How are they supposed to prevent counterfit goods, besides banning all third party sales, or inspecting millions of items? There isn't a reasonable fix except issuing refunds when it happens and banning accounts, or not having 3rd party sales at all, which isn't reasonable.

Exactly this. If Amazon can't police their marketplace then bad luck, you thought you had become more competitive by solving real world problems with tech, but actually you had just found novel ways to ignore the law. "I can't comply with the law because that would break my novel business idea", is exactly the thing that I keep hearing from tech companies, and it is the same level of nonsense as complaining that trading-standards (or whatever you guys have in the US) shut down for market stall for selling knock-off goods.

If the goods are on your site, then you are responsible for them being there. Sure it costs a lot, like it costs a lot to run an auction house. Boo hoo

So they hire tens of thousands of inspectors? Specialists at spotting fake SD cards? Specialists at spotting fake perfume? Specialsts at spotting fake Nike's? Do they disassemble each product as it comes in and inspect it? How much do they break it down?

None of this is realistic. We're commenting on an article that says Amazon has half of the e-commerce biz right now. The small but vocal contingent on HN might seem to make it that counterfeit goods are rampant everywhere but it's not the case.

It is perfectly realistic that that stay out of businesses they can't competently run.

For most of history people selling things had an understanding of what they were selling. If Amazon can't meet that standard for some products, or for third-party sellers as whole, they can just stop.

Alternatively, they could set up a separate site. Something like "Caveat Emptor" or "Bezos's Dubious Flea Market". Something that doesn't trade on the Amazon brand and create confusion between responsible vendors and fly-by-night operations.

That you can't or won't think of a way to do something without harming megacorp short-term profits doesn't make it "unrealistic" to address a recently create problem. I leave it to you to figure out what it does mean.

They should make a strong UI distinction between "we got this from the manufacturer or one of their authorized resellers" and "this is some random guy in China selling on our version of eBay".

>So they hire...

It is not my problem to solve, it is Amazon's. If they can't solve it then they need to go back to selling their own stock. If this makes them less money than facilitating a crime, then so be it.

What do you need it for?

If money if not an issue, buy Swissbit S-45 cards from Mouser.

There you go. But if you go to Jansport, I bet you'll have to pay shipping and the cheap option will be 5-10 business days. That's the norm. We've forgotten, mostly thanks to Amazon.

For a brand like Jansport, this is a false dichotomy:


Wal-Mart has the same problem, although perhaps not to the same extent.

Does Wal-Mart commingle inventory with 3rd party sellers? That’s the root of the problem in Amazon’s case.

I think the implication is that you can just go drive to walmart, or to some other brick and mortar location.

Yeah I would be much more certain that b&m products were "genuine" than I would be for walmart.com products, which I thought was the topic. I kind of wonder how we've gotten to this point, if we're talking about genuine Wal-Mart products...

I'm not saying this out of snobbery... I'm in Wal-Mart about once a week.

I've encountered a trend of B&M and big retailers carrying counterfeit hair & body care products over the last two years.

I just skip the middlemen and use Aliexpress.

There, you'll see 95% of the electronics, tools and small appliances you'd see on Amazon.

The pictures are usually the same, too.

Heh because it's people buying on Alibaba then having it shipped straight to Amazon for FBA. I see and file the Customs paperwork on the shipments daily at work.

Yep. Same thing with Ebay. A good portion of electronics and other small items are straight from Alibaba.

Woupd be nice if they had a "Verified" symbol on the seller's name if it actually comes from that brand, kind of like with Twitter accounts.

The problem is worse than that. They mix the inventory from all sellers, including themselves, for the same product. So all it takes is one counterfeit seller to poison the whole well.

Well, not the whole well. You can avoid "fulfilled by Amazon" products.

But that puts a damper on the whole "Prime" thing, so at that point you might as well just shop somewhere else entirely.

Isn't "fulfilled by Amazon" more trustworthy since they are shipping the product to you rather than a 3rd party? Or does Amazon fulfill counterfeits too?

The way it works (as far as I have heard) is that when it's "fulfilled by Amazon", the vendors will ship Amazon their products.

Amazon won't really do much in the way of vetting them, and then just throws them all into the same bin (i believe they go by the SKU and not much else). When you order from any of the vendors that sell that exact item, they just pick one at random and ship it to you.

All it takes is one bad actor to ship a bunch of counterfeit stuff to amazon for fulfillment and then it's possible to get counterfeits from ANY seller that Amazon fulfills.

This is exactly how it works, other than it's based on ASIN, not SKU.

The only way it changes if if the person sending their inventory to amazon chooses to have their inventory not commingled for a premium fee. Seller that do not commingle their inventory have no way of advertising that to buyer right now though.

I’m surprised there hasn’t been a coordinated effort against Amazon by an attacker using this strategy (poisoning the well at scale). That’d fix their comingling problem straight away.

Posting vast numbers of stories about counterfeits on the internet seems like an easier way to "poison the well", I would assume.

That sounds like a quick way to end up in prison for a long time.

Amazon flagrantly sells counterfeits due to comingling. Repercussions? Zero. As long as you're outside of US jurisdiction, the chances of you being prosecuted are close enough to zero to round down.

Fixing this is trivial, tell comingling sellers to QRcode all the merchandise, scan when adding inventory, penalize/kick out sellers playing label games (wrong/ missing QR codes), penalize/kick out sellers with counterfeit product/brick filled box returns.

You have an odd definition of "trivial". Some sort of per-vendor coding could work, but it is not trivial by any means.

This doesn't go far enough. Fraud is a major crime with very low accountability.

Interesting how a schema design errror has led to this real life problem (failure to have a "source vendor") field in the inventory table.

It would, but by doing so they'd be by fiat casting suspicions on the non-"Verified" variants, and perhaps on the whole brand as a result! I think the HN crowd is more united around the counterfeit issue than rest of the population.

Or at a minimum let buyers know which sellers have opted to not commingle their inventory.

Brands can become gated and then only approved sellers can sell those items on Amazon.

While on the subject of high quality electronics stuff, I cannot endorse this brand highly enough:



To the extent that for DC power work, as things wear out I am not buying Klein anymore.

The worst thing is that even if you report the products as counterfeit, Amazon won’t take them down or refund the purchases.

Is that really the case? I’ve returned things to amazon for other reasons...

Same. Filters for our well system. Comments that they were not genuine, so ordered from Home Depot.

Just to be clear, you're saying you've encountered counterfeits on Adafruit?

I read it as meaning Adafruit-branded products purchased via Amazon from 3rd parties.

Lithium ion batteries are another example of this. Used batteries 're-wrapped' in counterfeit labeling to look like some particular brand/model are probably more common than genuine products on Amazon.

More often than not, buying batteries through Amazon is literally paying someone to ship their e-waste to you.

Is US e-commerce susceptible to 51% attacks?

If all other e-commerce outlets banded together, they could double spend at Amazon.

Well, there's regulatory capture, monopolization, and becoming too big too fail, but no 51% attack that I know of.

We need to increase participation with ghost consumers to stave off attacks like this? :p

A company that Amazon can learn a lot from is JD.com in regards to counterfeit items and customer trust. When you buy a product using JD backed shipping, you are guaranteed to get a real product, which is especially important in a country like China where authenticity is extremely coveted in a world of frauds/fakes.

It might not be as highly held in people's minds here in the US, but I still think there's a limit, and Amazon has definitely crossed it at this point. Continuing to allow the amount of counterfeit goods that currently circulates throughout their warehouses will permanently stain Amazon's reputation if something isn't done soon. Trust is difficult build up, and almost impossible to regain once lost.

To be fair Amazon also "guarantees" you won't receive conterfeits, you can return a counterfeit and get your money back.

What about the counterfeits you don't notice? That's what I worry about.

The difference between a JD "guarantee" and an Amazon "guarantee" is that the JD one actually means something.

When you guarantee something and then fail to deliver on that promise, people begin to lose trust in you. Have it happen enough, this often only needs to be once by the way, and they likely will never fully trust you again.

How do you know the guaranteed fairy isn't some crazy glue sniffer. He sneaks into your house once and that's all it takes. Next thing you know, there is money missing off your dresser and your daughter is knocked up! I've seen it a hundred times.

If you want me to take a dump in a box, and mark it guaranteed I will... I've got spare time.

- Tommy Boy

To return something you first have to receive it.

If it doesn't arrive, they'll also refund you...

IMO, the problem with returns is the cost of sending it back, it terms of time wasted by me.

Back in the good old days some supermarkets would hand you a gift if you pointed out products that were expired, etc..

Amazon could just pay a 50% reward whenever counterfeit products are returned. The liability could easily be passed to the responsible seller.

I suspect the defense (whether it's valid or not is for lawyers to debate) is that if 68% of Amazon's sales are the result of other sellers using their marketplace, it isn't quite accurate to say that these sales belong to Amazon.

Yes, in someways it feels like if Visa claimed that it handles 99.99% of all online retailing and showing revenue numbers based on the entire retail sales transaction and not just on the 1.5% processing fee.

To a certain extent, Amazon's retail presence is 68% Marketplace (from the article). Marketplace is really just a very high scale website plus very high scale order fulfillment which nets an analogous 6%-15% fee for listing, inventory storage and shipping/returns.

They're increasingly nothing more than a platform like eBay or Alibaba (soon they'll have the ad business to match). However that won't save them from having to be careful as their dominance continues to increase. If you own the $200 billion platform, you wield the power, not the little guy selling $100k or $1m worth of merchandise per year. Regulators will focus on the platform owner and any broad market abuses that harm consumers. Bezos potentially going toward $200 billion in personal wealth guarantees they'll perpetually be a target, it doesn't matter how good they are to consumers, that much concentrated economic power terrifies a lot of people; his wealth alone will be taken by many as evidence of wrong doing, it's a lightning rod for attention. Gates solved that by pledging to give most of his wealth away and moving to philanthropy as a primary focus. Bezos is going to have a harder time based on what he has said he plans to do (assuming Amazon's insane valuation doesn't implode after this round of the asset inflation party ends).

I think what's also interesting is that now that Microsoft is awake with Nadella at the helm and presenting a viable alternative, will Amazon's cloud business start losing marketshare.

If I were say, Procter and Gamble/Clorox (Consumer Staples), Macy's (Consumer Discretionary), Visa/Fedex (E-Commerce), Aetna (Healthcare) if I were going to look at options for cloud, would I host my enterprise on Amazon who is actively trying compete with me and provide the end customer with alternatives to my product/services? Or would I go with a vertical pure play cloud services provider like Microsoft.

Amazon does have an ad business, and has for some years now.


Does anyone understand just how bad this statistic, if true, is?

It almost seems like there is room for somebody to disrupt Amazon by building a better e-commerce mousetrap and getting multiple retailers and distributors to co'operate with it.

Sears, Roebuck and Company used to own 100% of the market. Look at where they are today.

They had a good chunk of the toilet paper market covered too, their catalogs. Seriously. My grandfather would regularly tell me about having to wipe his butt with pages from the Sears catalog when he was a kid on the farm.

The big news here for me is the well-below-forecast growth of ecommerce.

I'd first noted this for years ago[1]. In an earlier, 2010 TechCrunch piece,[2] Forrester Research predicted a $250 billion e-commerce market, 8% of all retail, by 2014. We're just barely reaching 10% in 2018.

U.S. census estimated 5.3% in 2013.[3]

The hype's not measuring up. E-commerce has growwth resistance.



1. https://old.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/243in1/privacy...

2. https://techcrunch.com/2010/03/08/forrester-forecast-online-...

3. https://www.sba.gov/advocacy/analysis-internet-sales-taxatio...

I feel like the current backlash against Amazon fails to consider the question: What would the alternative be if Amazon never adopted the 3rd party Marketplace or added the international sellers?

Selection would be significantly smaller. Some percentage of items that are currently getting overwhelmed with fraud would be available safer, sure, but likely at a much higher price (competition lowers prices, after all).

Everyone remembers the time they got a crappy knockoff, or had to filter through fake reviews. But most of the time, people just search for something, buy it, and are satisfied, never having to consider whether it was only fulfilled by Amazon.

At least there is a consistent search/shopping experience, and the refunds are generally instantaneous and there are no questions asked. You can't say that about dealextreme, or alibaba, or dozens of other sites we'd be forced to use if Amazon didn't decide to take on the long tail fo sellers and become responsible for solving the fraud use cases.

> fraud would be available safer, sure, but likely at a much higher price (competition lowers prices, after all).

Fraud does lower prices, but is not competition in the classic sense.. fraud is someone using someone else's brand or name in an attempt to mislead while selling you a different item. This is not competition, where various items are sold with their own brands / name, such that consumers can distinguish and choose the best item to buy.

> But most of the time, people just search for something, buy it, and are satisfied, never having to consider whether it was only fulfilled by Amazon.

What’s your basis for this? Just the fact that Amazon is so successful? What if that success is in spite of the third party sellers and not because of them?

I know my own personal experience with Amazon over the last few years has been feeling like I’m trying to outsmart the website which is constantly trying to direct me to buy from sources I don’t trust.

As a result I am more and more hesitant to turn to Amazon than I was years ago.

Is my case the common case or is your hypothetical one? I don’t know that we can say. But I think as more people get burned by bad actors they will become less likely to use the site. My basis for this is eBay, which is a shadow of its former self. Being over taken in many areas by niche sites that specialize in a certain market and are at least perceived as more trustworthy. (E.g. Reverb for musical instruments.)

You can say: they continue to grow at a ridiculous pace, meaning that more people are using it than leaving it, and it's being used more.

Amazon should (and still can while there's still time before some major negative social media event) split their website, reviews, search and fulfillment inventory to make it clear what you are getting/who you are buying from.

amazon.com -> the original trusted amazon, fulfilled by amazon with strict inventory management

marketplace.amazon.com -> wild west'e-bay style', 'get what you get and don't get upset' amazon

[Addition based on comment] Or maybe amazon-marketplace.com to further differentiate it. It'd be similar to how Netflix split into netflix.com and dvd.com (although I think they should have branded it netflix-dvd.com for branding purposes).

Actually I like having a unified store...helps provide competition between the marketplace and amazon's own.

Anyway, if you want to avoid marketplace, in the left column, under "Seller", check the box next to "Amazon". (Maybe they could provide this as a permanent setting via preferences.)

This does not work because amazon commingles inventory. So anyone who ships that item into your warehouse could end up providing the actual good your are sold even if the “Seller” is amazon.

Do you know for certain that Amazon doesnt commingle their own inventory with FBA inventory?

My thought is that if you like to see them inline/unified, then you could head directly to amazon-marketplace.com where they are all commingled like they currently are.

Most internet users wont understand the difference if you just differ the urls. A very large chunk dont use/understand the url bar, and just use google search to access websites.

> What would the alternative be if Amazon never adopted the 3rd party Marketplace or added the international sellers?

Most likely that traffic would fall to Ebay, which would then be a not-so-distant #2.

Amazon's customer care experience is second to none. I have been a prime member for almost 4 years now, and every time I had a problem, it was instantly resolved, no questions asked. The only company whose customer care is at par with them is Apple.

I think that greatly depends upon the demographics. Here in India, Apple sucks in customer care. Amazon is ok, not too good. The number of counterfeit products I've received is baffling.

I can see someone else complete by having a competitive prime product equivalent for half the cost and remove unnecessary services. When I think about pricing its not very obvious to tack the $99 fee onto individual orders but you should since you're paying for it(I used to order 50+ times year from amazon and now its down to about 10-15 so it's harder to justify). Also, I rarely use other prime free products.

I'd be willing to move to Walmart or Google Express if they have a good selection and lower minimums + decent shipping times in return for a small yearly membership. I can still use amazon for larger purchases or pay a small premium for shipping as needed.

I think Jet.com tried this. If my memory serves, they were trying to be the Costco of online retailers where they generated a significant portion of their revenue from membership fees which would allow them to charge lower margins for their products.

I don't know if their acquisition by Walmart was considered a good exit or not but it seems to me that they at least didn't grow big enough and fast enough to be a direct competitor to Amazon. Maybe they are now that they're part of Walmart? I don't personally buy from them anymore but that's mostly due to my disdain for Walmart.

I buy from them when Amazon pulls their "reserved for Prime" BS.

Google Express currently has no membership fee. The minimums are different per store, around $25. What keeps Amazon my default is with almost every Express order I have some item cancelled by to store. (And the excessive taping and packaging of each item.)

I prefer shopping for Walmart in Express, because Walmart.com includes third parties with ridiculous prices and quantities, and also in-store only.

My most consistent use of Express is for Costco quantities of organic canned beans and bags of organic rice.

I ordered a PlayStation 3 from Walmart years ago. It arrived in a smashed box. I took it into the store to get a refund. They treated me like I was a criminal.

I did the same with a $700 TV a few days ago. No issues. They carried it from my car.

If they'd refused to take the return, I would've had AmEx refund my money, so I was safe either way.

Walmart had been improving but I don't know why, as big as they are, they don't step up their game.

I ordered somethings last night (Thursday). Walmart and Amazon offered free two day shipping.

Amazon will arrive Sunday... Walmart Tuesday, with two items arriving Friday. All Walmart items were sold directly by Walmart and not third party.

The fact I even purchased from Walmart is a testament to their competitive pricing s d selection... But shipping... Needs some work.

Amazon is enemy #1 of small business. It blows my mind that people don’t see this and are so quick to don a badge of how many items they order per week.

It depends on how you define small business.

Under a different definition, Amazon is the best friend of small business e-commerce: https://services.amazon.com/fulfillment-by-amazon/benefits.h...

Amazon isn’t a threat to small businesses in general. Certain categories of retailers will struggle to compete with them, but that’s the nature of innovation. Old business models will always need to find new ways to compete. Also, Something your assertion completely ignores is the Amazon is friend #1 of consumers. If consumers didn’t benefit from Amazon, they wouldn’t use it.

Is that a bad thing?

It's amazing they have gotten this far but can't even deliver packages properly. The last few orders, they haven't even tried. Their new delivery service is manned by idiots who can't even read maps. What's worse is that they will lie and say they attempted delivery, but they don't leave a note or anything because they don't even go by the house. I understand the job sucks big time for the drivers, but this is unacceptable no matter what. 2 day shipping my ass. The packages delivered with Amazon's service simply never arrive. Then there's the matter of them closing accounts, lying that there were some violations of undisclosed policy, and stealing the prime payments. Of course people are going to return an inordinate amount of stuff when most of the stuff available to buy is fake or shoddy quality. Every time I go back and give them another chance, I regret it. I guess others are less sensitive to such issues.

I've been using walmart.com occasionally and honestly it reminds me of how Amazon used to be: A smaller selection but no weird spammy cruft. Amazon makes a lot of money on sketchy 3rd parties. Also no "premium" membership ripoff (ie prime). You still have to use amazon for reviews though.

I almost prefer Walmart or other vendors through Google Express to walmart.com (as I never want to set foot in their stores - or most retail stores).

The fake stuff problem on Amazon is truly reaching amazingly bad levels. I simply don't buy entire categories of things from Amazon because of fake %.

Google Express has had some awesome coupons lately too. I’ve been using it to order from WalMart and Target. Happy thus far.

I'm pretty sure Walmart.com also has third party sellers for a lot of their items.

The best thing about Walmart is that they deliver to the store without charging shipping. Instead of having your Amazon delivery swiped from the porch you pick up your order from your Walmart of choice.

I've found their reviews to be entirely untrustworthy...in fact I try to stick to smaller e-retailers or ordering directly from vendors after research. 2 day shipping ain't worth the cost IMO, even though I know I am in the minority.

> 2 day shipping ain't worth the cost IMO, even though I know I am in the minority.

Clearly I am too but I've never at all understood the appeal of Prime (aside from my occasional annoyance at TV shows that are only available there...luckily the interesting ones are a very short list).

If I need something with any urgency, I pretty much always need it today. In those cases I'll just go find it in a store. Nothing I buy on Amazon I particularly care when it gets to me.

I agree on the sketchy third parties but why do you say Prime is a rip-off? You get TV and movies and free next day delivery (in the UK) on basically everything - feels like a good deal to me.

I’m not sure I’d use the term ripoff either, but prime is essentially there to tie people into using amazon. Once you’ve committed the $x/yr for prime it is there to compel you to spend more to make sure you get your money’s worth. Amazon could just as easily lower the prices of what they sell, or the cost of shipping, and not force people to buy in to a “club” membership. In my case I buy one or two things from Amazon a year, and have no interest in their streaming content, so whatever they’re charging these days for prime isn’t worth it.

also prime streaming music

Idk if I would call prime a ripoff. If you use their services regularly it more than pays for itself (shipping fees, streaming, discounts on products and services).

To me, it's worth it just for the Grand Tour and the occasional movie.


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