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Ask HN: What is your Amazon counterfeit story?
13 points by busymichael on July 22, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 16 comments
HN articles about Amazon get commenters who claim to have recieved counterfeit products from Amazon.

Seeing how rapidly Amazon is growing, I am wondering if there is a business opportunity in fighting these counterfeits.

Would you kindly share your Amazon counterfeit story?

How did you know the product was counterfeit?

Was Amazon itself the seller or a 3rd party? If a 3rd party, was it fba/prime?

Reference: https://www.google.com/search?q=amazon+counterfeit+site%3Anews.ycombinator.com




I sell an item on Amazon that I make. It's very simple, not wildly popular or profitable, and has my brand on it (trademark is in the works)

Another seller hops on the product page I created, shipping from China. Google around and learn that I'm supposed to do a test buy to see if it's counterfeit.

Do a test buy, wait ~20 days, get a package with a similar item but totally different packaging and branding.

Okay, cool, obviously fake so let's contact seller support and get this straightened out.

Seller support emails the seller(?!) asking them to provide me with a refund, (which surprisingly they do) and take no further action.

I write in to seller-performance@amazon.com, no response.

To this day, he's still selling on Amazon, but seemingly randomly left my product page a few weeks ago.

I'm told once you have a trademark, Amazon actually takes action, but I was also once told that a test buy is all you need. I'm glad I don't depend on Amazon for my income.


I'm not even sure this counts as a scam, but I think it's relevant to what you're looking for.

I found this (https://www.amazon.com/Conditioner-Evaporative-Circulator-Hu...) fan/humidifier and the reviews are all for what looks like a lunchbox.

I assume either the company is listing this new product under a listing that already had good reviews, or that the seller of this product bought this page that already had good reviews. Or it could be a genuine mistake but I think it's suspect.

I didn't actually buy the fan so I can't speak to it's quality.


They just hijack pages with good reviews that have been forgotten. Very common tactic and certainly intentional.


Used DVD box set of an early 90s drama series. DVDs were self-burned, unlabeled, cover was a bad inkjet print, and video quality so bad it must have been a VHS rip. Back then the studio hadn't release an official DVD set so any offer must have been fishy.

So a system looking for used offering of things not released yet could work.

Back when ebay was new I bought some signed autographs with certificate of authenticity. Certificates were unsigned and didn't mention what they refer to (thus useless), the photos including signature were copies. Sometimes even the "no permission to reproduce" wasn't removed before copying.


I make roughly 150 Amazon purchases a year. The only “counterfeit” (and I use the term loosely) product I’ve ever gotten was a knock-off electric toothbrush head from a third party seller. It wasn’t passed off as being from Oral-B, and it did fit the toothbrush— it just didn’t work very well.

I chalked it up to a life lesson. Other than that, never had an issue.


I bought a Canon camera battery grip for my Canon 7D DSLR. Normally I buy these kinds of things directly from amazon or other notable sellers to avoid getting scammed, but they were sold out and I had a trip coming up. So I order from what looked like a reputable 3rd-party prime seller. The grip I ordered is the kind that adds, grip, more batteries and additional buttons to your camera, so you can take vertical shots more easily. It was something around $200.

It arrived, and felt like a legit piece of hardware... but after playing with it for a bit. I noticed three things, the blue paint color indicating button functions was slightly different than the ones on my camera, and the patterning on the rubber grips was slightly different than what was on the camera, and the device, although super good quality (that's why I didn't even notice initially) was made of a very tough, heavy plastic, and not the magnesium of the camera body. The box also looked spot on like canon gear. I was faintly suspicious, and started investigating and did a bunch of online searching about things to spot, the proper build materials etc. If I wasn't so picky I think I would have just accepted it. It was indeed a great piece of hardware. It turns out that this was indeed a knock off. A very good one. I ended up informing amazon. They told me they didn't want it back, and sent me a new, legit one. I ended up selling the fake one on ebay, informing the buyers that it wasn't a legit grip, but a very good quality knock off and I made like $100.

When the new legitimate Canon grip arrived, it had the same grip material, same paint, made of magnesium.

So all-in-all I ended up with a legit Canon battery grip for half the price.


microsd card, though I should’ve known better. Thankfully there’s plenty of complaints and test programs out there to check. And amazon gave me a refund (something worth noting - generally I’ve found amazon/ebay great at defending the buyer but the stories usually are with genuine sellers dealing with fakes)

Since then learned to be careful (e.g I don’t buy things that seem too cheap to be true, or things I’ve heard are have high fake chances like cr2032 batteries)

...also Adobe master collection CS6: it was a burned disc and in a printed DVD case and was priced at a point that was hard to tell (several hundred bucks but less than retail, think it had a return policy). Technically the license worked and it did work well for about 4 years. Then one day it didn't - from my understanding it was some type of educational license laundered into being sold as a regular product. At that point adobe was all SaaS anyway so from that perspective they solved the fake/laundering license problem.


I purchased a Nvidia GTX 1080 video card from some 3rd party seller. The price was a bit lower than MSRP but not by much.

It arrived in a high-quality box, and looked good. I was initially suspicious because the video outputs didn't match what was advertised, and I had purchased monitor cables based on the outputs I believed the card would have. But the card itself looked OK to someone who didn't know what to look for.

I posted some pictures to Reddit, and they helped me figure out what was going on:

https://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc/comments/5rf36n/simple_que...

I had a really bad time getting Amazon to process the return because it was through a 3rd party.


Bought wool pants on Prime from Amazon, a brand I've bought previously on both Amazon and Nordstrom Rack. Got pants where my foot wouldn't fit through the leg like young man's pants. Maybe not counterfeit, just mislabeled?


Bought Avent nipples from Amazon. A bit thinner and softer than what we had as slow-flow newborn nipples. Didn't think much about it, but baby would be a lot more fussy when using these nipples. We thought he has just getting used to faster flow.

Finally, gave up and bought same nipples from Target. New nipples feel a lot more like old Slow-Flow nipples. Baby drinks from them just fine.

Amazon has lost me as a customer, will not be renewing Amazon Prime.


This happened to my dad. He bought a nice piano and started taking lessons for it. He got really into it and decided to buy a nice piano chair. He ordered one on amazon for around $300. It looked great in the pictures.

But 3 weeks after ordering it, he received a miniature version of it in the mail. It was probably 5 inches tall ... lol. He has stopped buying things online.


I probably make 1-2 orders per week for electronics, food, medical supplies. I’ve never received a counterfeit, ever.


I'd be interested on a way to rate sellers or detecting red flags of items listed.


The problem is commingling.


Never had an issue so far, i buy everything for our family on there.


Perfume and shampoos for wife.




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