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I semi-recently bought a Samsung 970 EVO from Amazon, except new (and not from a third-party seller). Instead I received a security blanket: https://i.imgur.com/DTPdhAn.jpg

The SSD box was seemingly factory sealed.

I also bought a Dyson fan recently and what came was an obviously used, yellow stained, disgustingly old model of a Dyson fan. I hopped on Live Chat, they apologized, initiated a return - few weeks later I get a semi-threatening email from Amazon telling me that the Dyson fan I sent back "wasn't sent back in its original condition" - I hopped on Live Chat and made sure everything was ok with my account (it was) - but still, ..wtf. this is a problem.

A shrink wrap machine is relatively cheap and does wonders for people running these operations. Nobody is going to check inside a "factory sealed" box.

Folks were running scams like this in the 90's. I remember a friend of mine bought a hard drive from CompUSA. Turned out it was actually a brick sealed in a box.

I don't suppose it was a MiniScribe Disk?


> In July 1987, Jesse Parker, director of far east operations, told Wiles that something was amiss. In August, Wiles travelled to Hong Kong and Singapore where he found a complete loss of control. The inventory count from that fall showed that the numbers had grown to $15 million, mostly in Colorado. A report was prepared to consider various solutions, but Wiles suggested that they continue hiding the problem, ordering all copies of the report be destroyed. This led to the company's most infamous cover-up; the managers rented a second warehouse in Colorado, where they personally packed 26,000 bricks into hard drive boxes and shipped them to Singapore in order to shore up the inventory count. After the count was complete, they recalled those serial numbers as defective units, but instead of writing them off, they checked them into inventory, along with other failed drives that had been returned.[6]

Maybe one of the bricks made its way to a store :P

Hah. This was in the mid to late 90's (possibly '96 or '97), so not one of those. I'm pretty sure it was a Western Digital drive. It had large "retail" packaging that included foam padding and extra hardware, like mounting rails for a 5.25 bay, etc.

Was it a 5.25" brick or a 3.5" brick?

Hah. It was supposed to be a 3.5" hard drive. The box was big enough to be able to contain a regular sized brick and some padding.

Lol. I worked there in college and someone had the great idea to put things like hard disks and video cards on the shelf instead of behind the counter to reduce labor costs.

People ran all sorts of scams, most commonly putting a $500 video card in a $20 box. I’d catch them all of the time, but if you reported it you had a chance of losing commissions when loss prevention people interviewed you.

Solution: avoid the aisle.

The other crazy one was what we called the crime bus. A charter bus of Asian people, usually Chinese, would pull up and flood the store with like 30 people on a weekday, pinning down every employee with stupid questions. Another group would loot the aisles of hard disks, various video/other cards and certain inks. I was there for one — it was absolutely insane.

They put that stuff back behind the counter a few months later.

They'd also accept returns of software if you gave a plausible excuse. My friend would usually say one of the floppies had a read/write error, and he changed his mind.

Too bad they went broke! In the 90's, CompUSA was one of the only local places that had a large selection of computer parts.

This is why we can't have nice things like local computer stores :/

Losing the ability to rent PC games when I was about 8 rocked my world. I'll never forget the last game I ever rented, SimTown. Going to that rental store was almost as exciting as walking through a computer expo.

Years back a coworker was telling me his scheme for buying a video card and returning it with an older model in the box. Only thing was when he opened up the box his card was already swapped with an older one by a previous customer. So he had to go back to the store and plead that he was the victim. They eventually accepted the return if he testified to the police officer (probably for an insurance claim.)

It's sad how many stories of these sorts of scams there are, even in this one thread. Retailers really get screwed, and we all pay for it.

Also, I wonder how many customers even failed to notice they wound up with an older card. Probably not all of them!

It happens in enterprise space too. Over the years my team or I have caught all sorts of shady shit from resellers.

> People ran all sorts of scams, most commonly putting a $500 video card in a $20 box. I’d catch them all of the time, but if you reported it you had a chance of losing commissions when loss prevention people interviewed you.

Wait, what? The loss prevention people wanted you to not prevent loss?

No, they would basically interrogate you.

Sitting in some windowless office at $5.75 an hour for two hours basically cost me $100-300 in commissions from lost sales.

Those jobs were great in the 90s. One year I paid for my College tuition in the week before Christmas.

ahh the good old days when college tuition was actually reasonably affordable. My tuition at Texas A&M was IIRC between 1 and 3 grand a semester...

I guess they would take away the commission for this sale and maybe question past sales?

Their job isn't to prevent loss, it's to catch people.

I worked at Best Buy and Sears in the late 90’s. People tried to scam us every day.

Sears didn’t do any checks if anything. You just took your boxed up computer to the back of the store and you got your money back. It was common to pull the RAM and HD from a computer, return it for another, and then you had double the memory and drive space for free.

You couldn’t do that at Best Buy, the Tech bench (before they had the Geek Squad) would inspect your returns. If you wanted to fool us, you’d have to make it look like you never opened the boxes, and put the correct amount of patio bricks in it.

You couldn’t swap video cards or RAM, we checked the model numbers. So you’d have to take the video card over to the appliance department, slice the side of the box with a knife, remove the video card and throw the empty box in a washer or microwave. When the Voodoo 5 came out we found every single one was stolen and the boxes in a freezer that was on display.

We even had a RAM tester that would tell you the speed and size of the chips. We never got one that would do DIMMs, just SIMMs, so as the Pentium II became popular it was less useful.

Now, if you knew someone who worked at the tech bench, you could bring your home PC in for a bullshit service like a $29.99 disk defrag, and you could get it loaded up with memory, disk drives, or hell, you could just stick as many audio CD’s as you could in your tower. Just make sure the case screws are on tight when you leave, or the panel falls off along with whatever you were smuggling out, right in front of the whole store.

Lastly, there was a DEVO area towards the back of the store, basically a dumpster full of returns. I heard they got sold to the lowest bidder, stuff we couldn’t return to the manufacturer for some reason. Memory, hard drives, all kinds of random stuff would end up back there because the computer said so. Anything that could fit in a pocket, people helped themselves to.

> Nobody is going to check inside a "factory sealed" box.

I'm surprised Amazon doesn't X-ray incoming merchandise and then use Computer Vision (i.e. face tagging but for objects) to say whether what's inside the box matches what "should" be in there according to a database of SKU X-ray "fingerprints."

It's probably not worth the cost. Even though the numbers would seem large to us, at their scale it's probably not.

If theY ignore fraud the fraudsters will naturally increase their activity.

A percentage is a percentage...

A penny is a percentage of a dollar, a hundred dollars, and a thousand dollars.

That percentage matters less the smaller it gets.

So, that is why I thought they put in a security blanket inside the SSD box.

Maybe some rudimentary thermal imagery, and that is the method?

It's probably more about weight, size, and convenience. SSDs don't weigh much. Neither do blankets and that one probably fits in the SSD box without any hassle.

For the most part I do not buy anything other than media from Amazon any more - books, Kindle, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, games, and of course streaming. One notable exception is the Amazon Basics range of cables where I tend to go a little nuts. Again, for the most part, these are the things they were originally good for in the 90s and early noughties; these are the things they're still good for now. Everything else is Russian roulette.

In the late noughties/early onesies I went through this period where I realised I could just buy anything I wanted that wasn't food from Amazon, and it was briefly great. However, they have had a huge problem with counterfeit, poor quality, seconds, and reconditioned goods for a number of years now. If you need thing X you're much better buying it from a specialist retailer, direct from the manufacturer or - depending on what it is - even from eBay, Gumtree (or its US equivalent Craigslist), particularly for used items.

Avoid Amazon like the plague for non-media items.

Honestly I’m not even sure Amazon is a particularly good place to get books anymore. Amazon made it possible for publishers to make out-of-print works widely “available” but when you order such a book you might get one from the original run (printed with offset printing to a generally high standard), or you might get a “print on demand” book with terrible quality with vague, feathered letter shapes and plates which look like they came out of an inkjet printer running low on ink.

Apparently Amazon’s own print on demand service produces high quality books but it is impossible to know what sort of book you are getting until it arrives.

Amazon is no longer capable of packing books. They just toss them in a box with some of that crumpled paper and by the time it gets to you all the corners are smashed in from sloshing around in shipping.

You could complain about the packaging, but it’s not quite as easy as using their app to take a photo. I’ll note last time I ordered a book from Amazon.com for international shipping to Canada, it arrived in the pressure-tight cardboard packaging I expected.

I ordered an audio CD set from Amazon.jp and it arrived faster than it would by US ground and the packaging was flawless, with Apple-esque plastic attached to the easy-open cardboard to keep every corner perfectly sharp.

So... it varies by region?

Or I’ve gotten lucky, n=1 ;-)

(Aside: that’s the annoying part about Amazon, 9 times out of 10 it’s exactly what you expected but then there’s that one time, maybe you buy something you wouldn’t normally, or the box is mostly empty, or the item’s serial number is invalid, and... you really don’t know what you’re going to get sometimes. And Amazon doesn’t make it easy to report it, it’s simply not something they visibly care about...)

Is there another good place to get out-of-print books? Or are you saying that for current books, a brick-and-mortar store is best, and for out-of-print, rolling the dice with Amazon is better than nothing?

I'd recommend abebooks.com. Everything I've received has been in great shape and since it is media mail shipping is free or at most a dollar (for normal sized books that it, I haven't bought text books).

I don't know if you realize, but abebooks are a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon: https://www.abebooks.com/about -- so this is like protesting Facebook by setting up an Instagram account.

Wow thanks for that! I didn't know and was happily using them for some time now.

Use www.bookfinder4u.com and evaluate sellers case-by-case.

I have used addall.com in the past. Its a meta search of all the major online book stores.

There are even stories of amazon selling fake books... Their way of acquiring themselves and of course intermingling goods makes the whole of amazon hard to trust.

In Europe a number of companies (most notably shoe company Birkenstock) are refusing to sell on amazon due to them mixing fake and real products and the producer gets the losses AND takes the commercial and reputational hit when things go wrong.

You are probably already aware, but if you want cheap, dependable cables, that's basically Monoprice's primary business.

I probably would use them if I weren't based in the UK.

I bought a couple DVDs from Amazon last year and they'd clearly been used before. One was so scratched up I couldn't get it to play.

I keep telling everyone I come across, STOP BUYING THINGS from Amazon. They know they have a huge problem and refuse to face it.

I was injured in 2010 by counterfeit toiletries and since have embargoed them completely. I'm happy to buy things from the manufacture and pay shipping, at least I know with a reasonable confidence that what I am getting is going to be the real thing.

There need to be better indexed shopify and big cartel sites. So many great online stores I've bought from use that as a web front.

I don't think that's a solution. While I really, really like Shopify as an ecommerce platform its usage alone tells you nothing about the legitimacy of the seller. Indexing all products on a certain platform just seems like another marketplace to me.

Is the new app Shopify launched like that or not good enough?

I have probably purchased tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise over a decade from Amazon and I can’t remember ever having a problem with receiving the wrong item or what I could tell was a counterfeit item.

Out of curiosity, how did a toiletry injure you?

Dioxin tainted shaving soap... Bad times.

Had no idea it wasn't legit until I started having crazy dermal issues and saw a doctor.

Paid crazy amounts to have a sample tested to see if there was anything I could do to solve it.

Stop buying things because a small percentage of them are broken. Makes sense.

If a fucking toiletry fucks with me... are you even serious? You see nothing remotely wrong with this?

Stop buying things with high profit margin that are easily adulterated. Everything I buy passes through a filter: How profitable is it to fake this and do I care if it is?

If you can't reliably distinguish between genuine and scam vendors, yes, that makes sense.

My guess: The chat agent selected an incorrect reason for the return, causing Amazon to expect the actual item back.

Whenever possible, I always initiate the return myself to avoid customer service messing things up (there is a specific return reason "received incorrect item" in the dropdown).

Oh wow, I had literally the exact same thing happen to me last June: https://imgur.com/a/qzVDuJr

Now we all wonder if this is actually the same blanket ...

I propose to add some markings to these products to explore how often Amazon will try to sell the same non-product.

Years ago, when I worked as a hall tech. I'd mark certain parts that had intermittent errors, whenever I RMA'd them, so that when I got them back later, I would immediately know. Because it was SOP to replace parts until the PC worked (not every tech was particularly good at troubleshooting), parts would end up coming back pretty regularly, since there was often nothing wrong with them. But it was super frustrating to get back the motherboard you knew had a faulty dimm slot, only to see that dimm slot fail for another machine replacement.

This could be a really entertaining version of Wheresgeorge/Bookcrossing, but with returned Amazon shipments...

Unlikely to be the same blanket, as Amazon did not request that I send it back to them as I recall.

lol wow!

I got a paperlike screen protector from Amazon warehouse. When it arrived it had obviously been ripped off another iPad Pro and set on the floor. There was a pubic/pet/?? Hair under it and it was obviously unusable. Of course it still had the factory inspected seal though bc amazon drones dgaf.

Amazon did refund, but made me resend the item rather than throwing in the trash. Proof: https://photos.app.goo.gl/f1jxjvooWAPVuh4DA

> Of course it still had the factory inspected seal though bc amazon drones dgaf.

Given the purported working conditions in their warehouses, is it that much of a surprise?

Even ignoring the horrible working conditions in Amazon warehouses, this is not a problem we can reasonably expect the warehouse staff to solve or even approach in any meaningful way. They have absolutely no power over Amazon's internal problems. Amazon will simply fire warehouse staff if they take too long fulfilling orders because they're questioning the legitimacy of items in the warehouse.

People who shop Amazon really don’t care about the people who work there. Only they stuff they buy.

There seems to be a real problem with those Samsung SSD's on Amazon. There's quite a few reviews where people even received a fake SSD, the only thing that gives it away is the connector[0]! I decided I wouldn't take the risk and bought mine elsewhere.

[0]: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71u2ZnjYcWL...

Could there be a crime ring in the factory?

Electronics on Amazon in general seems to be a hit-or-miss made worse by inventory commingling. Recently bought a PS4 controller from Amazon (purportedly from Sony). Did not last 3 months. The original controller I got with the PS4 itself still works great after more than 2 years.

Interesting. I tore one down recently. It was a gift for my nephew but didn't work out of the box. Well, it did "work", as in, it identified as genuine controller; had all "real stuff" look, but buttons skipped, lagged, or just didn't work.

The insides revealed a mix of genuine components (probably off of scrap?) and an assembly-line quality bodge-work. (I didn't take any pictures, but I still have it -- so I can post some pictures if anyone's interested.)

Certainly would like to see this also;

Would be quite good content to let other places know too - hackaday for example.

I took a few pictures and uploaded them here [1].

I recall that I'd already de-soldered a few components (for the salvage-drawer!) and cleaned the awful flux residues so the my pictures look much cleaner than how it was when I opened it [2].

It still turns on though, so I might end up doing more digging into it. I'd add whatever I find in the repo soon.

Hope that this is useful for "reasons"!

[1] https://github.com/prashnts/mods/tree/master/devices/dubious...

[2] https://github.com/prashnts/mods/blob/master/devices/dubious...

I would certainly be interested to see this.

I posted some pictures and linked it in sibling comment.

Unfortunately I suspect everything on Amazon is unreliable now, we just notice technology item issues first because we know them better.

Not necessarily; tech items have huge margins compared to raw materials cost, most of the expense is design and QC. Binned/inferior components marked as the genuine article are worth counterfeiting in a way that other items aren't, besides the other known exceptions (e.g. fashion items)

Does anyone know if "Shipped from and sold by Amazon.com" still guarantees not co-mingled inventory?

That's been my one line of defense against knockoffs after hearing in the past that was the case. Whereas an item that's "Sold by Sony and fulfilled by Amazon.com" will pay Sony for the sale but might actually use co-mingled inventory that came from a fraudulent seller.

I guess neither of them address the problem in the article though which is now a new source of issues I didn't know I needed to be looking out for, of getting a return which may have been tampered with or swapped out instead of a brand new product.

Did that ever guarantee you wouldn't get commingled inventory? The only guarantee I know is to buy amazon basics products. Unfortunately using this as a strategy to guarantee a minimum quality provides perverse incentives.

As of a few years ago even "Shipped from and sold by Amazon.com" resulted in comingled inventory for me. I was unable to purchase a new Sony phone without getting some other seller's comingled inventory. Which was problematic since that seller incorrectly labeled Hong Kong versions of the phone as US versions.

I bought gilette razors from Amazon and really was convinced Gilette was going downhill. Nope. They were probably counterfeits.

Wow. I thought the explanation was that also they were going downhill after my 5 year hiatus from shaving. This is a plausible explanation.

So what do you think actually happened here? Was the controller a really good counterfeit, or was it real but used? In the latter case, did it show signs of wear?

Yeah, there are fake PlayStation controllers floating around. Sony issued a warning about fake PS3 controllers a while back: https://www.playstation.com/en-gb/legal/warning-counterfeit-...

Definitely a really good counterfeit.

Similarly I had to get a refund on a 10-pack of items when I only received a 5-pack. Months later I get an email saying I didn't return all 10 that I had ordered.

No shit, that was the problem!

I once ordered a rail of Atmel Microcontrollers from Digikey. Got four 74HC00's. Called them, sent them back. And then Digikey sent the $28 bill to collections. I complained and they politely told me to fuck off.

There are scammers who will buy the item, open the shrink wrap and remove the item before rewrapping it to make it look like they never opened it. This becomes more difficult if there are security seals.

See: https://lawyerrant.wordpress.com/favorite-scams/the-empty-bo...

Does Amazon really maintain a database of products -> security seals and verify them when they come in?

Isn't this just "cost of doing business" for a company of Amazon's size? Like sure, this does happen but at what rate?

My brother has the opposite problem. He ordered a pan and got a very expensive Samsung SSD — 3 times.

I would like to have that problem, which pan is it?

That's probably not a scam, and due to something like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22285099

What a terrible problem! What's the pan?

Lol what?

But... Why?

Because the pan took Teflon to get there.

I was worried about getting ripped when I bought my last Samsung, so I ordered directly from their site. I don't think they use Amazon for fulfillment (unlike Anker), and all was well. Every time I order something from Anker, I worry about getting hosed.

These stories amaze me. I'm not saying they're not true, I believe you're having these experiences. I just stunned because the worst thing that happened to me with Amazon lately is their in-house delivery service has a bad track record of losing things, but I still get it in the end. I rarely have a problem with Amazon orders. Weird.

This happened to me recently with what was supposed to be an 8GB Raspi 4 in a seemingly factory sealed box.

I was trying to figure out how it was swapped, and assuming the original packaging was used, it looked like the glue of one flap may have been slit open with a box cutter and then resealed with low viscosity adhesive.

It probably also wouldn't be hard to scan an unfolded box and then print it with an altered barcode on some light container board or card stock, just a lot more effort.

Same thing happened to me with RAM. Security blanket instead of the RAM. The package had a similar graphic but was a completely different size.

It was the single most frustrating customer service experience of my life. The return was a nightmare but it wasn’t because of the counterfeit. Some weird glitch with the return label and a terrible call center employee.

This could have been a warehouse error. I would err on the side of warehouse error. A real fraud would have sent you a brick or a worthless tile of the same dimension and weight.

This is why I refuse to pre-pay for high value items. I will wait for the delivery guy, inspect the item myself, then pay if everything is alright.

I know sometimes they use weight to detect if the right item is in the box. I would still expect a visual check though.

Checking weight makes sense, maybe that’s why more than one person received an emergency blanket in an ssd box. Someone discovered it weighed about the same as the ssd.

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