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Amazon Is Kicking All Unauthorized Apple Refurbishers Off Amazon Marketplace (vice.com)
121 points by CharlesW on Nov 10, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 57 comments

I wonder if this means you can now buy an Apple charger/cable/whatever without a 50/50 shot of a commingled counterfeit. Can we get this for all brands please?

I order direct from Apple. They get it to me faster than Amazon can, and no worries about it lobotomizing my hardware.

Just buy the mFI ones.

For those of us not up on the nuances of Amazon's supply chain, please explain how that stops a counterfeiter from slapping an mFI sticker on a counterfeit box.

I just stick to buying Amazon Basics or from the Anker store.

I’ve replaced all of my family’s iOS chargers and cables with Anker — far more durable than Apple’s!

I still mostly stick with Apple products when it comes to notebook power, especially for the 15” MBP.

And my cats don't chew on the Anker cables. For some reason, it seems a lot of cats just love to chew on Apple branded cords - specifically. I guess they smell/taste good to them. I've worked in electronics a good part of my life and have hundreds of all sorts of different types of cables, but the cats ONLY seem to love Apples cords for some reason. I have to warn guests when they whip out their chargers lol.

Fun fact -- back when I worked at Apple as a Software Engineer, we used Anker cables. Not on occasion either, primarily.

In fact, our team time after time received a huge shipments of Anker cables (think 1000-2000 cables in their retail boxes)

So internally Apple knew their cables wasn't as good as Anker?

At least among their software engineers, very much so.

If Anker got a cent for each time a cable of theirs got plugged into an iPhone prototype that never left the HQ, they'd still be a huge company.

Isn't that the biggest failure of Apple? I think the original Anker Powerline cable were good, but not great. The Powerline II was perfect. And it was only a small changes in material and design, it doesn't even break. ( The Powerline has slightly longer "tail" at the end of the plug so it doesn't take as much strain )

If Apple Engineers are not using its own Apple products than there is something very wrong.

Which are the top non-ad results when I search for mFI iPhone cable.

Not sure if it’s even possible to commingle with AmazonBasics inventory

Amazon's house brands cannot be commingled with.

If Trump actually cared about protecting America, he would be sending more resources towards the CBP officers who inspect and seize counterfeit products instead of security theater at the border.

Article seems a bit unclear. Are they blocking third-parties from selling used Apple products? There are a ton of independent people (including just random individuals) selling used machines.

It keeps referring to refurbished machines, which is a fairly big distinction, at least on the Amazon platform.

Refurbished machines are sold as primary items; they have an ASIN and are assumed to be basically fungible goods as long as the specs are the same.

Used machines are the ones you find through the "Available from these sellers" subpage on an item (which will often be out of stock, once the machine isn't being sold as new). There you have to list the condition, and many are shipped directly from seller to buyer without going through Amazon at all.

I am wondering if what Amazon is doing is saying that, unless you are Apple, you cannot call a machine "refurbished", only "used". That seems... aggressive, but not completely out of line. It seems like it's letting Apple take ownership of the term "refurbished", when they should really differentiate themselves by saying "Factory Refurbished" or "Apple Refurbished" or something, but it wouldn't necessarily block resale of the units completely.

If Amazon is actually prohibiting all resale, even as "used", they are going to be making a huge giveaway to eBay and Swappa, since that is where the secondary market will likely go. The demand for used Macs isn't going to disappear, and Apple's recent trend towards higher prices is going to increase it.

Secondary market is creating downward pressure on prices - Apple cannot sell iPhone XR for $999 when one can get used iPhone X for less.

Assuming that Apple products would be used for a long time - it's hard for them to sell more new devices when supply of old ones that are 100% functional is increasing and increasing. For regular internet browsing use CPU from 2012+ isn't that much different from new one

Believe me or not, it is said that at around Iphone 3 era, Apple paid of huge sums of money to refurbishers in Malaysia to simply close the shop.

During production of iPhone 4, they started production with plain optical binding gel, but switched to very hard, solvent resistant epoxy mid way. Again, to frustrate refurbishers.

Then, they literally paid off Alibaba to push refurbishers out from their platforms. There is a strong evidence for that: there was a press release once of "Apple entering strategic partnership with Alibaba" without any specifics, and the sane week, the kicked out all refurbishers.

I bet, they did the same with Amazon

> Believe me or not, it is said that at around Iphone 3 era

What is there to believe? That you heard something? I believe that you heard it. The fact you think that makes it true is worrying.

10 years ago, when I was an exchange student in Singapore, I worked in a company that was running a trading business specialising in refurbished and low cost consumer electronics. Very early on, we were exporting refurbished Sony phones from Malaysian refurbishers, and later on we tried to switch to first smartphones. In late 2009, I left Singapore, and never heard of how it ended up.

> will now only allow "authorized resellers"

Sounds pretty clear to me.

In my own experience, I find 3rd party refurbishers are terrible at having the quality control & testing done thoroughly. Some even went on to claim as "manufacturer refurbished" which is very misleading imo. This is a very good move for consumers when buying Apple refurbished products from Amazon.

Amazon needs to realize that when ebay is safer because of their buyer protection plans that they, Amazon, have a problem.

Hell, I’ve had quicker refunds from AliExpress when an order was dodgy.

Amazon needs to pull their head out.

I've always been suspicious that "seller refurbished" items on Amazon or eBay are simply used items wiped off with a damp paper towel.

A handful of complaints caused by the units that don't work and the seller tries to scam you will result in removal from either of those selling platforms.

And then the same seller will pop up a day later under a new name.

Hell, most first party refurbishers aren't all that good. I can't think of many other than Apple and Nintendo that I'd unequivocally recommend.

"Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court." - 15 U.S. Code § 1

Is there case law that supports or refutes the interpretation s of that that would make this illegal?

A history of weak enforcement, mostly. What's going on here could be viewed as a "per se" violation, illegal on its face. It's an open agreement between two parties to restrain trade by a third party. Those usually don't go well in antitrust cases, if the Justice Department actually takes them to court.

Agreements like that happen all the time. For example a sandwich place renting area in a food court under the condition that they won't lease a nearby store to another sandwich place. It seems unlikely to me that they are all illegal...

[0] https://loweringthebar.net/2006/11/judge_rules_bur.html

When you have near-monopoly power, antitrust is more of an issue.

That's an interesting agreement by Apple, how much more business do they gain? I simply would never buy from Amazon, not just because of the risk of counterfeit, but because Apple's online ordering is already so good. And it's a bit easier to find my receipts/purchase history when trying to get a product fixed or replaced at the store.

The problem is that not everyone knows who they are buying from. Take this listing as an example [1], it is a MacBook Air and it even says "By Apple". But that doesn't mean it's being sold by Apple, just that it's an Apple product. The seller is actually GainSaver who has 60% lifetime negative review score (based on only 5 reviews). The name GainSaver is written in size 12 font in a single place on the listing (Apple is listed 14 times).

So customers could potentially buy this product, think they are buying an "Apple Refurbished" product and when it doesn't work, turn up at an Apple store expecting them to service it (which they will do, but for a cost). Doesn't make for a great customer experience.

On a personal note, I've looked on Amazon a few times for a refurbished iPhone and have walked away a bunch of times since it all seems so sketchy.

1. https://www.amazon.ca/Apple-MacBook-MJVE2LL-13-3-Inch-Refurb...

how much more business do they gain?

Possibly some. There are people who head for the refurbished gear first.

In years past, Apple hid the refurbished sections of its web site. You had to navigate a pretty dark pattern to get there, and it wasn't available at all on the app.

Today there's a link right in the apple.com footer, and refurbs right in the Apple Store app.

I've purchased refurbished Apple gear in the past (mostly Airports) because it's cheaper than new, but comes with the same warranty as new gear.

Plus, there's a certain amount of confidence that comes from buying it from Apple that I don't get from some RandomBigGood_real_Apple_dealzez on Amazon.

Amazon has the best logistics , on many of Apple's key markets.

This contributes to a wow experience and better supply chain optimization.

Also, Amazon is where the customers are at.

I presume they'll gain more trust from their customer base.

Cheap knockoffs available make Apple's high prices look astronomically large.

As usual, this articles doesn’t understand that there should be a different between standards imposed on everyone by law and standards set by businesses for their own marketplaces and by extension the reputation of their brand.

If private refurbishers can no longer sell through Amazon, they can throw up a Shopify or WooCommerce in a few hours and keep going. Amazon, like any other business, is entitled to choose whose products are to be sold through then.

This is a free market society and we all may choose where to purchase products. Many Amazon customers want to see only official products that are trustworthy and carry manufacturer support. Just like Walmart or Target or Joe’s corner store, Amazon is making a business decision to better serve they customers. No one is losing any sort of right.

Amazon has a 50+ % share of e-commerce in the US. By law, monopolies are not allowed to engage in anti-competitive behaviour including favouring some products or their own.

50% is far from being a monopoly.

AT&T had 100% of phone service. Google has 90% of the search market. Windows 95 had something like 95% market share. Those are monopolies. Amazon may have a monopoly on some market segments like books, but they’re far from having a monopoly in online retail.

Amazon don't stop Chromecast and a whole slew of other Google products, neither do they let third parties.

louis rossmann[0] responds


[0] louis rossmann repair group in nyc is a small business that specializes in repairing apple products

Great news for eBay I guess. I've found myself slowing going back to eBay. Especially for user items.

As it should be. eBay and Amazon serve, or should serve, two very different purposes. In my opinion used items have no place on Amazon and the whole marketplace approach results in a sketchy shopping experience I'd like to avoid.

I've found Walmart has really upped their game in this regard.

Or Gazelle. Or the similar sites, the names of which escape me now.

I worked for an Apple Specialist (someone with an actual license from Apple to do repairs) and for myself, flipping Macs back when the housing bubble popped.

I don't see how this can possibly be legal. Yes Amazon is having problems with counterfeit products, and yes Apple has its own definition of what refurbished means. But it should not be legal to only allow sales of used products from a certain vendor. <- self explanatory, that's what antitrust laws are all about.

This sounds like a lawsuit is on the way. Unfortunately in these times, with the amount of money that these large corporations have, it's going to be an expensive case that drags on potentially for years. And with the stacked courts that favor corporations now, monopolies are more likely to win out.

What is the proper balance between right to repair and anti counterfeiters?

I've personally repaired most of my Apple gear. And hope to continue.

I also understand the arms race Apple is facing with fraud, counterfeiters.

Tough problem.

> What is the proper balance between right to repair and anti counterfeiters?

Probably a legitimate way to get replacement parts from Apple?

Licensed apple service centers are still a thing, but as far as I know they’re the only way to get legit apple parts. My only experience is for Mac parts though, I’m not sure if they extend into the iOS realm. They didn’t when I left that industry (shortly after the first iPhone was released, the third party licensed repair shops had to ship back to apple for repairs)

There are a couple of outlets that sell new Apple Replacement Parts, this being one of them https://www.dvwarehouse.com and yes, they charge the full price.

Note: I am not affiliated with this company, sharing as a reference. I had two happy transactions with them related to my 2008 Mac Pro, a new logic board and a new power supply for a different Mac Pro.

Amazon definitely has a huge counterfeit problem.

My first impression/hope is that this is part of an attempt to repair that.

But it sure seems like the wrong target, as these guys are just selling repaired old goods, not fake new goods, which is the problem.

If they have a big problem with high defect/return rates, they certainly should be sanctioned out also. but my suspicion is that this is just a deal between BigCo a and BigCo B to enhance extractive profits. Sad to see it going like this...

That didn't take long.

Did something particular prompt this?

Interesting, hopefully they will come up with some strategies to reduce counterfeits/innacuratelistings in general

Or do you just mean that this took absolutely forever?

The Apple that produced the famous Big Brother ad is no more, and hasn't been for years. The sooner people accept this (and overcome the cognitive dissonance) the better.

Keep feeding the beast, folks.

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