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How Best Buy saved itself (2019) (inc.com)
247 points by prostoalex 8 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 287 comments

So, he used that practice to his advantage--by instituting a price matching system.

More like he used a price-matching program to swindle people.

Suppose you want a 512GB microsd card. You've heard through their ads Best Buy will match Amazon's prices, so you depart your house with cash in hand, happy you won't have to wait for shipping. You walk into Best Buy, pick a Sandisk drive off the shelf, and show the cashier that despite Best Buy listing it at $150, Amazon only charges $100, so please match their price.

Sorry says the cashier, this Sandisk 512GB U-3 V30 A2 Class 10 microsd card is model SDSQXBZ-512G-ANCMA, while the Sandisk 512GB U-3 V30 A2 Class 10 card on Amazon is model number SDSQXA1-512G-GN6MA so we can't price match.

Price matching means absolutely nothing when every single one of Best Buy's overpriced products has its own special model number that prevents them from ever having to price match anything.

For every instance of price matching I've done at BB, the attendants basically did a spot check of the title of the listing and never checked the model numbers.

Of course, sample size of 1 and it's quite possible that the employees at my local BB are just lazy to my advantage

A lot of times it pays to double check that the model numbers match and go in and forcefully demand the price match. Employees have zero incentive to match a price and it forces them to input more data just to complete the sale.

>Employees have zero incentive to match a price and it forces them to input more data just to complete the sale.

but they're being paid hourly, so it's not like it result is more work for them.

That's severely flawed logic to insinuate that hourly wage equates to work output. You must be on salary. Us little guys don't think like that, I promise. Underpaid workers don't want "more work" paid the same amount as if they do "less work," unless they're paid proper living wages in which case they wouldn't feel cutting corners necessary imo.

It's more work for them to lookup the amazon price and fill out whatever price change forms they're required to submit in order to get you the lower price. The alternative is just telling you it's not a match, swiping the barcode over the scanner and handing you a receipt.

They maybe evaluated by some sales metric rather than percentage of hours present during shift hours ;)

Employees have zero incentive to fight extra hard to save the company an extra $20. They're getting paid minimum wage regardless. Same way the cashiers at the grocery store will scan their bonus club card to get you a discount -- they don't get paid more or less if you get charged differently.

Having worked at Best Buy in the last few years, this is the exception, not the rule. Employees were required to match the model number, and all price matches require manager overrides. Often times a manager would double-check to make sure the items were identical down to the letter.

A common example of this scam was phone cases. Each retailer is provided the same item with a model number differing by a single letter (A for Amazon, T for Target, B for Best Buy). Because of this deviation I was not allowed to offer price matches on any of these items.

Same experience here. The most they do is scrutinize to see if Amazon.com is selling or a 3rd party.

I’ve had two interesting price match experiences at Best Buy.

The first is when I bought a vacuum cleaner. The web site said it was on sale for $50, so I went to the store to buy it. It was $100 in the store, so I made them price match themselves.

The second was with a MacBook power adapter. Future Shop, a Canadian store similar to Best Buy, had it for $95, Best Buy had it for $105. By getting Best Buy to price match, I got it cheaper because they will beat the price by 5%. Here’s the interesting bit though: Best Buy owned Future Shop at the time (they’ve since retired that brand), so once again they price matched themselves.

In both cases they did it without complaint, but they did verify the competing price, etc, as they should.

Bestbuy had a fraud lawsuit where they made a fake in-store website with inflated prices in order to avoid price matching themselves.

Wow! How did they think they'd get away with it? This must have predated the prevalence of smart phones.

It did. I remember this back in 2006, where a customer would ask to look on one of the display computers and I would have to let them know it wasn't going to work.

Couldn't you just walk over to the PC section and look it up there? Those computers are online right?

Interestingly enough all the futureshops that I’ve seen were converted into bestbuys by only changing the colour of the branding material from red to blue - everything else literally stayed the same

In my city they kept them as separate stores for quite a while, but in-store branding definitely changed colour. At one point, a Best Buy and Future Shop were actually sharing a parking lot. It was in a large "power center", with many stores between them, but still the same parking lot.

It took quite a while for Best Buy to finally rationalize its store locations and get rid of the redundancy. Some Future Shops took on Best Buy branding, and in cases like the one above one of them was picked to close.

In the shopping center close to where my parent lived there was a single store between the two. I remember it wasn't rare to see BestBuy labels in Futureshop too. They only closed the Futureshop once they merged them.

My pet peeve is when you have to have places price match themselves (in store Vs. online).

I was recently at Lowes, I had found a Saw Horse online at their website for $80 off, and tried to price match it to themselves but when the cashier looked it up it came back the store's price (even though I still had the page open on my phone, and at my home computer at home).

Then got treated like I was the one trying to pull a scam, rather than them discontinuing a sale mid-way through a work day, and me being caught by it.

You think that's bad? Best Buy's website would for several years display higher prices if it detected you were at a Best Buy store!

"It says $80 online" "Here, let's pull it up on the website, $100, you must have been mistaken" Head home, nope, $80.

They got caught - or provably so - when mobile data became better. "Weird, if I turn store wifi off and hit refresh by 3G the price magically goes down".

That ended up in a lawsuit, and no doubt some gift certificates via class action.

Target was nailed because if you had their app with location services turned on, the prices would rise when you approached the store.

"Target updated its smartphone app Wednesday night after a Minneapolis TV station reported that some prices displayed on the app increased whenever users approached a store. In one case, a product's price increased by almost $150." ...


Nowadays Home Depot (and I believe Lowe's also) has in-store pickup, so you can often buy the item online and pick it up shortly thereafter.

I made the mistake of ordering from HD online and received a different product than what I ordered. It turns out that they reuse SKUs for different models so the drones will pull the usually outdated old stock on the store's shelves.

That's definitely a mistake on the store's part and should have been a quick return / swap for you.

What generally happens is: (1) associate is dispatched to pick an online order, listed by SKU and bring it up front, (2) they arrive at the bay and start looking around for a match, (3) while they are supposed to verify down to the SKU level, sometimes they say "DeWalt 20V circular saw" = "DeWalt 20V circular saw", grab it, and move on, (4) repeat for the next order.

That's assuming there's stock in the store. In the event it's Ship-to-Store, you add the additional touch of warehouse getting it right. Although in my experience that rarely goes wrong (because automatic verification, etc as things go out).

I always do a SKU / item check if there's anything that might be a problem. In my personal experience, it happens ~1:50 orders (usually with easily confusable substitutions).

My neighbor works at HD. He also works at a local metal fabrication shop. I've visited him there and watched him turn a flat piece of metal into a multifaceted high precision part on a metal brake using only his hands, eyes, and the tool. He helps me with my metalwork challenges often. He has two great kids at College and a wife that nags him to no end but that he adores. Drone? Hardly.

Target is notoriously bad for this. I got like half off an expensive supplement just by pulling up the website.

Have you actually experienced this though?

That's common with some stores, like large department stores and mattresses being a common example. But the manufacturer has to be part of it.

And it's simply not common or widespread in electronics. Apple isn't doing it. Logitech isn't doing it. Etc.

There might be a few brands or product categories which do... but it's also not generally to avoid price-matching, but rather to sell a lower-quality product that Best Buy pays less for. They're not just slapping a different model number on it -- it also has less memory, or cheaper packaging, or a lower-quality screen, or whatever.

I think Best Buy's strategy is to just get people into their stores, hoping they will walk away with more than the thing they came to price match.

Kohl's has adopted an interesting strategy recently of becoming an Amazon drop-off location. By doing so, they get people to walk through their store, browsing their merchandise, if only via a brief visual scan. Once you've dropped off your return, they give you a card good for a discount on anything in the store for one day.

I think it happens, but not because of price matching. It's more about merchandising, hitting a retail pricepoint, or keeping the model in play for some period of time.

For stuff like SanDisk sticks/sdcards you see multiple SKUs for the same product all of the time -- they may have a clamshell sku for merchandising on a shelf or clip, have a "bonus" storage case, etc.

Apple is different because they exert alot of brand control. But PC OEMs have many models of similar products, especially at retail where factors like how long a CPU will be available for restock may matter more. The shitty HP Model whatever laptop on the shelf at Walmart will usually not share a model number with the shitty laptop at Costco or Target. Sometimes retailers insert their own upsell in the packaging as well.

Absolutely yes I have. Those are the real model numbers from my experience. They also did the same thing to me about ten years ago when they refused to price match a Western Digital hard drive.

Apple did this in the dark days pre-Jobs. They would have different model Performas for just that reason.

Depends what you're buying and how lucky you get I suppose. I've successfully price matched an SD card there, and a few other misc. items, for whatever it's worth.

In my experience they may be a little more careful when it's a large price difference. There are legit concerns that it may not be the same model/quality/etc.

Also TBF Sandisk makes this worse considering how often even inside best buy I'm scratching my head over why they have multiple items that have the same U/Class rating but different packing on the shelf.

I've had decent luck with BB Price matching since around 2010 or so, when they started worrying about Newegg/Amazon and were to some extent proactive about shifting their business model. On the other hand the types of items I've price matched tend to be specific enough that Part number shenanigans aren't a concern.

Yeah, I remember going into PC World (Ireland/UK retailer, very similar to a smaller best buy) to buy a micro SD for the Nintendo switch. They had the same micro SD card per its ratings and capacity in normal packaging for one price and a more switch matching colour scheme labelled "for Nintendo Switch" for €10 less.

It's hard to tell what's going on:

1. Re-labelling the product to catch the confused parent market?

2. An actually better product for the switch? (maybe better read IOPS that helps loading time?)

3. A worse product but in ways they think you won't notice on a switch? (lower sustained write speed perhaps, basically any SD card can outpace eshop downloads)

All seem equally plausible, but my guess is on 1 or 3.

Wirecutter claims that the Switch-branded one is currently the best price/performance wise: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-microsd-card...

They also warn that counterfeits are rampant.

They did exactly this to me on a Dell Spectre laptop at the Bellevue Best Buy this year, and it felt very dishonest to me, since the items were clearly 100% identical except for some mysterious tweak to the model description. They also tried to get me to sign up for a credit card for a big discount, then denied the card despite my nearly perfect credit score. Weird experience... I have also found that their price matching is dishonest and inconsistent, and you have to be prepared to just drive to another store or come back another day. That said, I still shop at Best Buy because their website is accurate and usable, and often the demo products in the store actually work.

Yeah, now you're wary and perhaps won't go there again.

BestBuy needs to watch out. Pissing off customers with sleezy tactics is not the way to go.

Sometimes they actually are different, where the cheaper SKU actually has some shoddier components or a planned obsolescence capacitor configured to wear out faster.

Now I understand why Asus routers have a special brick and mortar model number

SD cards were one of the few items where this happened with non-special SKUs. Off the top of my head, the only other product segment this happened with was cheapo TVs. Almost everything else, if there was a model ID mismatch, there was some indication that it was a "Best Buy-only" model (if only because of minor differences). The vast majority of products could be price matched with Amazon, and customers took advantage of it quite often.

If you really want to see this strategy in action, try shopping for mattresses.

I was tolk that's how mattress sales work. They basically have their own specific SKU or line of name-brand mattresses and you can't directly compare or price match.

Similarly, my friend was a contractor and told me the paint manufacturers would have paint stores with good paint. The same paint was available cheaper at Home Depot, but the sku would be slightly different and the paint properties like thickness would also be cheaper (in the quality sense)

They do this on appliances as well. I did get them to pricematch anyway, basically by being annoying. It wasn't really worth the discount.

The OEMs (SanDisk, in this case)must be printing out disparate model numbers to facilitate this phenomena. The codes that don't match up are stock screen printing on the package and not some in house stickers that BestBuy cooks up to make it impossible to price match. OEMs could be sick of getting undercut at brick and mortars across the US because of Amazon.

OEMs have done this for a long time. When Circuit City was around it was very rare for the laptops to have the same model number.

Of course, often they'd do other little things too, like maybe a smaller HDD but a better CPU. Just enough to make it not really the same Laptop, but close enough you picked up on the trend.

Definitely do this. Different SKUs for different channels. If you look closely at the specs for say a 55 inch TV sold by a discounter like HSN, it will have one less HDMI port than the retail model sold by Best Buy.

I thought the practice was essentially print on demand practice whatever customer wants a different convention with their batch. I don't think they are in the business of caring about the retail end.

Is it a true story?

The only time I took advantage of price matching, it ended up saving me money. The phone I was looking for was $250 on Best Buy website, but $220 from Amazon 3rd party sellers. I went to a Best Buy store hoping to get it for $220 and not having to wait for shipping. They actually price-matched it at $200 on the spot.

Take a look at these two laptops:



The one at best buy has the model number: BBY-51FJVFX

The one at staples has the model number: STP-51FJVFX

Notice anything? :)

They definitely have made for Best Buy TVs. Even for other mainstream brands than their in house Insignia line.

Yes. Those are real model numbers and my real experience.

Video games aren’t like this.

Funny you mention that. I tried to buy FF7R a few weeks back at Target and have them price match Walmart for $10 off. Walmart had two listings - FF7R at $60 and FF7R with a bonus "art card" tucked into the cover for $50. If you search FF7R on their site the $50 one pops up. When Target goes to price match, they see the $60 one. A clever trick by Walmart to offer something on sale without allowing people to price match it - the opposite application of the same trick being discussed in this thread.

Appliance companies explicitly do this for this exact reason too.

Did they learn this trick from Fry’s electronics? Because I had the same experience trying to price match there.

They all learned it from shoe stores, I believe.

I’m going to say that’s a local anomaly. I’ve never had Best Buy push back on a price match.

So that's when you buy it online?

How is refusing to price match considered swindling? Personally, I've never had issues with Best Buy price matching routers or graphics cards.

It's not refusing to price match that is the swindle - the swindle is promising it, and then using things like retailer-specific SKUs to avoid price matching otherwise identical items.

"Sorry, this is a 512GB-SANDISK-AMZN SD card, we only carry the 512GB-SANDISK-BBY, it's a different model".

The definition of swindle is "to obtain money or property by fraud or deceit". Neither is happening in the scenario where the price match is refused.

I would argue that making an offer that you know cannot be fulfilled "We price match other retailers!" because you know other retailers don't carry that SKU for identical products because it is limited to your store is misleading/deception.

I walk into Best Buy thinking I can get a price match on a digital camera because they advertise price matching. They say sorry, "this is the Best Buy exclusive version of that very popular camera, we can't price match it. You see it comes with a special lanyard in the box." So I'm in a position where I've driven to Best Buy, and either have to pay their price or go home and order on Amazon. So maybe I pay their higher-than-Amazon price.

The price match was deceitful, they obtained money from it. Sounds like a swindle to me.

Easily avoided if you compared model numbers from the 2 web sites before getting in the car. Besides, your issue is with the camera mfg for making not-quite-identical models.

More easily avoided by just ordering on Amazon to begin with, after trying it out at Best Buy if I feel like it.

Fraudulently wasting my time is just as much of an issue. The wrong occurs when a store works to deceive me. Whether the deception is successful or not does not change the mortality of the action.

Deceit: the action or practice of deceiving someone by concealing or misrepresenting the truth.

In what way is tricking people into thinking they'll be able to easily price match not deceit?

I worked at Best Buy #583 in Mt Laurel, NJ from 2001 or 2002 or until 2003 Or 2004, from age 17 until 20, I think. I started working in their PC repair area when it was still “Best Buy services,” black shirts instead of blue, a few years before the Geek Squad thing happened, and left a couple years after that transition. I went in to interview for the PC sales department, the manager thought I’d be better fixing computers, and it was the start of my whole career in technology.

Even back then, I remember a lot of their corporate-produced video content played at quarterly meetings would talk about the value in reinvention. They were very aware that companies that didn’t adapt to the market were doomed, they’d reference old department stores for comparisons. It’s not surprising that even though they stumbled for a few years, they still managed to turn it around.

I remember being very aware of the high production value of those same quarterly videos. They looked so expensive and were occasionally funnier than they had any right being. It stood out because we all felt under paid and under valued, we’d talk about how much those videos must have cost and how much we all could have used some help.

A few times a year, I still have anxiety nightmares where I’m late for a shift or I show up and there’s a line out the door and nobody to help me. Or there will be miles of racks of computers that need virus scans run and I have to do all of them before I go home. It was the most stressful job I’ve ever had, possibly the most stressful job I’ll ever have. It taught me more about troubleshoot software and dealing with angry people than I ever could have predicted. Simultaneously one of the worst experiences and a crucial one. Funny how that works.

I worked at Best Buy in San Luis Obispo around 2003 and it was clear that if you didn't sell enough warranties, $29 USB cables (wholesale cost about 80 cents), and (bafflingly) subscriptions to Entertainment Weekly you would get your hours cut to effectively 0. I got chewed out and nearly fired by my boss because a customer came in with a broken lens for their camera they'd just bought, and I told them a replacement was about $99 when _instead_ I should have apparently told them a warranty could be bought retroactively for $199 and that would replace the lens (this was a bald-faced lie, it had clearly been dropped).

Of course, consumers should expect that because Best Buy is blatantly evil, but the scummiest thing was that customers would walk in with a printout FROM BESTBUY.COM showing an item was $129, demand we match their own website instead of charging $149, and they'd be walked over to a kiosk showing that the product at bestbuy.com was $149. (They had a mock bestbuy.com running on the kiosk that looked like the web version but with in-store prices). Remember smartphones weren't a thing at that point.


It was valuable as a reminder of just how bad most jobs are, and that most people in America are treated like absolute shit by psychopath bosses who themselves live in fear of their boss, and so on. It certainly was a motivator to learn to code.

Quitting the Wednesday before Black Friday was a thrill. It's supremely depressing Best Buy still exists.

I showed up to my interview at Best Buy in Ithaca, NY in shorts and was immediately rejected. I was a rising senior in high school and was really into building computers, so thought I was a shoe-in. The hiring manager told me it was insulting to not dress up for the interview. Honestly it was just something I didn’t even think about, but certainly taught me a lesson of sorts. Now I interview people every week and they’re all in t-shirts.

This feels like a bit of a puff piece to me. Nothing in here felt "brilliant" to me. In fact, I'd argue Frys or Radio Shack did everything on this list better.

That being said, I do often prefer Best Buy to Amazon for tech things, for the same reason I prefer clothing stores to online shopping. For something that expensive and personal, I want to see it in person. I want to see if it'll fit (whatever that means... from sizing to the types of plugs, etc), see compatible products, etc.

I do love is how accurate their website is. It's usually right, and I'd love if more stores had an online way to see if something was in stock before I went all the way there. In my experience, Best Buy is the one that gets it right the most.

Fry's is still around, but going into the store is a little sad now. Last time I went (pre-covid) the shelves were full of cheap stuff and they didn't even stock what I wanted - a USB extension cable.

Honestly, the In-Home Advisor thing is pretty unique to me, particularly the “be comfortable not closing a sale” quote — that seems pretty cool for the company that’s known for Geek Squad

On top of that, it costs nothing to hold that item that's in stock for pickup, and during the worst of COVID you could not only curbside pickup stuff you put on hold, but arbitrary things not ordered in advance too.

What do you mean by the "worst of COVID"? According to all stats, it has been getting worse, not better. Unless you're talking about NYC.

Fair. Worst of COVID so far, in my area. When everything was shut down. Most business is open again here, with precautions. But with the school year coming, I certainly think another shutdown is possible.

I'm always careful of buying electronics $50+ on Amazon. The quality control is terrible so you could end up buying fake junk.

Yeah, if I need a laptop, I want to put my hands on the keyboard. My biggest pet peeve is deck flex.

Agree about clothing, too.

I've commented here a few times that Best Buy really has turned itself around and now offers a great shopping experience. I have a location nearby and every time I go in to buy something the employees are super helpful and knowledgeable. They also have a decent selection and can usually have a pickup item ready in less than an hour. Additionally, they will price match with Amazon on most things.

I'll choose them over Amazon any time if they have the item that I need (which they typically do).

I feel odd being so gushing about Best Buy, because for the longest time I really didn't have the most positive impression of them at all, but I'm not exaggerating when I say that over the last few years, I've had the best customer service experience from them that I've had anywhere in any store of any sort. It's really phenomenal, like enough to make me make a point of purchasing things there when I have the option. I don't even know where to begin, but I feel like they've been super attentive and genuinely helpful without dumbing things down.

Whether that's worth it or not to any given person is a personal thing but I was really surprised by it.

I can’t imagine anything that I would want from Best Buy where I would need to ask an employee anything besides “do you have it in stock.”

A couple of examples:

- I bought an Apple Watch through them that was the cellular version. There was some activation error with the carrier when we tried to set it up, and rather than the employee I was working with shrugging it off and saying, “Sorry, you have to call the carrier”, they handled it all for me and got it fixed before I left the store.

- I bought a Logitech mouse. It was having issues with the cursor stuttering. I went to return it, they went though the process in store of updating the firmware to make sure it was a hardware issue, and then they gave me a full refund and recommended another mouse (which I still have and love).

Maybe change title to "Best Buy used a combination of corporate strategy and emotional intelligence to save itself from ruin" (from the subtitle).

Good suggestion. Current title is really bad clickbait that does it no justice

Best Buy has the best curbside pickup program that I've experienced from any big box retailer. They became my "go to" place for buying anything electronic during the lockdown.

I just hope that experience continues to be solid now that their retail locations are open again...

I bought a laptop from Best Buy recently, and the limited amount of contact was great. Just pressed a button on my phone when I arrived, confirmed with the employee that the order was in-fact mine, and he put in my trunk without even getting close to me!

And then you end up with Best Buy crapware on your computer and usually they have worse specs. I have never seen as many 14 and 15 inch laptop screens with less than 1080p in my life.

I actually just used Best Buy as a vendor. I found the laptop elsewhere and it was the only place it was available (coronavirus shortages). It doesn't have any bloatware other than from OEM itself.

Curbside has been really excellent. I buy a thing online and less than half an hour later I'm back at home with the device. Makes me realize how much of my amazon shopping was because of the fast delivery.

Yep, I was really impressed with the process. I _really_ hope it sticks around after the pandemic.

Best Buy was probably saved by states enforcing sales tax on Amazon and similar online retailers. Even price matching doesn't work when your competitor has a 5-10% advantage.


Why doesn't Walmart complain every day that Amazon's a better tax cheat?

Mutually assured destruction?

The Land of the Giants podcast series also touches on Amazon's financing, capitalization.

Amazon's core innovations are, in order, 1) tax avoidance, 2) profits avoidance, and 3) treating knowledge workers as an inexhaustible resource to burn thru.

These days one of the biggest value adds of buying from Best Buy (over Amazon) is that you know you won't be getting counterfeit products. My confidence buying consumer electronics from BB is far higher than from Amazon.

So I hear this line over and over in Hacker News. Do people really have that many authenticity issues?

I average well into 5 figures a year on Amazon stuff. Have been for years. Have never had an authenticity issue.

I buy sold by Amazon and 3rd party. Name brand and white label. Electronics and home goods.

I’m just not getting it?

The WSJ has done numerous articles detailing the many problems of Amazon's third party marketplace. Lead in toy products, counter fit products, products that otherwise violate recalls and safety requirements. They've also documented how easy it is to find these products, to buy them, and they're sometimes even recommended by Amazon's algorithm with that label they put on their top search result.

Amazon has responded to lawsuits with the hands off "hey it's not us, it's the seller and we're not going to vet our sellers stuff." So apparently it's the customer's job. I don't have the time or knowledge to know how to test toys I buy for my daughter for lead so I just don't buy from Amazon unless it's a hard to find book or something I'm pretty sure won't be dangerous.

I used to buy all my home gym stuff from Amazon stuff and since have switched to directly buying from brands like Rogue Fitness, or Titan and the difference in the quality of even basic stuff like weights, is just worth skipping Amazon. The dumbbells I've bought from Amazon all have some form of rust on them now.

It's that way for clothing and everything else I've tried. Amazon is a game of hit or miss trash. In the midst of the pandemic I actually could not find a Surface charger for my laptop anywhere but Amazon and had to buy it from them and I was so worried it was counterfeit. It wasn't. I was lucky.

Has WSJ released any figures as to the prevalence with this or are they just presenting individual accounts?

If I’ve gotten counterfeits they were certainly of the quality i was expecting from the brand name and I really don’t care, that’s the free marketplace baby, capitalism at full health.

> If I’ve gotten counterfeits they were certainly of the quality i was expecting from the brand name and I really don’t care

Except that the other end of that spectrum is kids toys with lead in them. Or, hell, adult toys with lead in them.

Point is you don’t really get to say “the harmless counterfeits are fine, just stop the harmful ones” when you don’t know which ones are harmful. The only way to avoid that ambiguity is to stop counterfeits as a whole. A total lack of regulation isn’t capitalism at full health, it’s poison, often quite literally!

Ahh, what’s an example of capitalism working sanely in a regulated industry?

All industries? At no point do we have pure unregulated capitalism anywhere in the modern world.

But for a specific example of high regulations and decent outcomes look at the food industry, whether that be restaurants or the food supply chain or farms. All of it is highly regulated for good reason.

I'm not sure about all the regulations being for good reason. Some do exist to protect existing players, like taxi medallions. And some, are perhaps outdated in the name of "protecting the consumer" when online reviews and reputation systems tend to achieve similar results with little oversight.

There’s a difference between “regulation is a good reason” and “the regulations that were created are good”.

Taxi medallions is a good example: NYC streets were flooded with taxis and it was slowing down traffic. And there weren’t enough passengers for drivers to make a living. So limiting the numbers did make sense. But the way it was implemented was far from perfect.

Err, is “industry” of all things what society is supposed to optimize for? That just seems like a shitty conception of both the point of industry and governance itself.

In any case if you think commodities industries are working healthily I really have to disagree. Most products are unnecessarily expensive crap. We have little consumer choice in most markets critical to people’s health and livelihood and no way to incentivize improvements.

"Capitalism at full health" means that:

* companies do not face rampant infringement of their brand name (which they own, it is part of their means of production), and

* customers aren't swindled with intentional bait-and-switch practices (which would mean that they are not free to make choices in the market), so

no, counterfeiting has no place in healthy capitalism even if counterfeits often pass for the real thing.

Actually, that is 100% the natural conclusion of capitalism. It doesn’t care about states or boundaries, all you really need is the ability to control capital.

> If I’ve gotten counterfeits they were certainly of the quality i was expecting from the brand name and I really don’t care, that’s the free marketplace baby, capitalism at full health.

A free market, by definition, has full transparency; if you can unwittingly get a counterfeit, it's not a free market.

A counterfeit is meaningless in a free market—intellectual property is an unnecessary constraint on the market to incentivize production of goods.

A brand is just a label, immaterial to the quality of the received commodity. The term I would use for folks who buy an expensive item, sight unseen, and expecting proportional quality, from a third party market is “sucker”. Regulating counterfeit sales will just keep prices high and competitive pressure low, fucking us all over.

Why not simply regulate the quality of the item and force brands to compete on things that matter? Say, require phones to have offer a version with a headphone jack so you aren’t forced to shell out endless money for dongles and bluetooth sets every X years.

Would you feel the same way about counterfeit drugs? Motorcycle Helmets? (https://www.webbikeworld.com/a-look-at-dangerous-counterfeit...)

You really want regulators to design technology? That’s about like the EU forcing USB2 charging ports on phones when USB-C was a better standard.

I got a pair of Salomon running shoes, from the authenticated seller SALOMON , fulfilled by AMAZON and they looked great but felt just a little off. I put them next to my friends shoes and we found about 10 things of extremely minor differences that contributed to an entirely different fit and on very close inspection much poorer materials and construction. It would have not been possible to see this without putting my fakes from amazon directly next to the name brand. I had no idea! I did all the right things, verified the seller, the fulfiller, the manufacturer, the listing. Amazon only partially refunded as I didn't figure it out until after 30 days. They (Amazon) should be liable for fraud! and I say that as a stock holder and prime member of 10+ years. co-mingled inventory will be the death of them, or it should be if they ever get held accountable, but who knows maybe now too big to fail.

This was full retail price, proper SKU, MFG picture. when I went back to review the order it seems a third party seller was substituted at check out which I could have missed. I went through extreme and deliberate lengths to purchase exactly what I wanted from the manufacture and pay retail prices and still got fooled. I was actively going through mental checklists during the purchasing stage on amazon to avoid counterfeit and didn't succeed. Majorly annoyed.

I have even worked the packing line at amazon. Over Christmas in 2000 I worked the line to pay some school bills, so I can even visualize some of the failure modes. yup.. still not enough.

I've also thought that I haven't received counterfeit products from Amazon, but hearing your story it's possible I have but they were good enough that I didn't notice as I didn't have an authentic product to compare it to.

I've been nailed more than a few times, mostly on lower cost items without prime (i dont mind saving a few bucks and waiting). Items I've gotten that are counterfeit:

- Brand name lock

- Serial Adapter (knockoff chipset)

- Apple Watch charger (these are endemic)

- Dell brand charger

You likely don't realize it but you probably have counterfeit items in your home right now, that were either very carefully copied or part of a "third shift". You also likely have refurbished items sold as new, and if you've ever gotten brand name things in plain packaging, cross-market items (such as intel CPUs that are sold at much lower prices in other regions, and then sold for a profit to the US).

When I wanted a second Apple Watch charger cable, I could not find any on Amazon that I was willing to order.

The ones that were listed as being actually from Apple and sold by Amazon were no cheaper than buying at the local Best Buy or Target or I think Walmart (I know they sell Apple watches and bands, but I'm not actually sure if they have Apple brand chargers).

Every single less expensive third party one had either almost exclusively terrible reviews, or an overwhelming majority of the positive reviews were for completely unrelated products (and the reviews that were not obviously for other products usually omitted actually saying what they were for so you could not tell if they were actually for the charger or for some previous item that once had the same listing).

> or an overwhelming majority of the positive reviews were for completely unrelated products

Like so many things at Amazon, this has gotten completely out of control. There are so many variants of it, too: There’s what I would call “style overloading” where the control that usually lets you choose between the red or blue toaster has been overloaded to choose between the toaster, the egg beater, and the waffle maker, and all the positive reviews for the waffle maker now give the toaster 4.5 stars in the search results. Then there’s what I will call “SKU retreading,” where a discontinued product has its product page repurposed for a new one, transferring all the old reviews and resulting search presence to the new one.

Somewhat appallingly, I’ve seen even popular brands like Aukey engaging in the latter. As you say, it’s sometimes not clear until you actually read the reviews and see they’re referring to features the product doesn’t have, or are posting pictures that look very different from the product photos. I’ve even used the “report incorrect product information” link on these and described the problem, and the listing has unsurprisingly remained unchanged weeks later.

> The ones that were listed as being actually from Apple and sold by Amazon were no cheaper than buying at the local Best Buy or Target or I think Walmart

Isn't that basically a rule for apple peripherals? You can't buy them new for cheaper than MSRP?

I didn't really think about it until the parent comment, but looking at your comment - it's kinda funny to me because all of the above product categories, I expect and WANT cheap "knock offs" that cost less. But what's funny to me is that it's never labelled MASTER or APPLE. It's literally labeled something like XIOMI or SAXAS or some shit like that. I could walk into a Home Depot and buy a $20 MASTER lock (or set of 4). Or I can just buy something that does the same thing - which is security theatre. That's the real thing deterring thieves, the look that I've done something that makes is 5 times harder is enough to deter probably 99% of the potential thieves. And it's not a wonder, with amazon packages just sitting on porches, of course there's easier things to steal than something behind a lock.

You don't want knockoff chargers. The power supply holds every other component in your computer at its mercy. Get the best one you can!

Obviously I care about my computer. But I care more about my life. Get a proper charger people. http://www.righto.com/2012/03/inside-cheap-phone-charger-and...

The lock was a specialty lock for a specific purpose (disc lock for a motorcycle). It's supposed to have a reinforced shaft and hardened casing that makes the tools that thieves use on cheaper disc locks useless.

I definitely do not want a knock off charger. I didn't care so much about the serial adapter, but it was still very annoying.

CPUs might be a different story, but I have the same experience as others: if I've gotten counterfeit goods I haven't been able to tell. At that point I don't really care.

> if I've gotten counterfeit goods I haven't been able to tell. At that point I don't really care.

On an individual level, sure. If the real product fails 1/1000 of the time, and the counterfeit fails 1/100 of the time, you've got 99%+ happy customers of both. The damage is only really evident in the aggregate.

My initial reaction is the same every time, but then about safety issues. Everything from toxic materials to potential fire hazards -- you won't know unless it's too late.

You will when your house burns down.

Would you notice, if you did?

Remember when the guy tested all the USB cables? Some of them were downright broken, but many worked just fine (except not to specification, so were perhaps damaging or even dangerous, but they worked), so most people would never notice that something was amiss.

I’ve also heard of counterfeit books: they look the same as real books, but are of lower quality print and paper. Would you notice? Would you just think the book wasn’t as good quality as other books, without questiining whether you actually got a counterfeit product? I’m not convinced I’d necessarily notice.

Reminded me of this video a while back with yeti tumblers


Seems like the only sure way to know, for a person who isn’t intimately familiar with the real product, is to have a real and the potential-fake side by side, which, realistically, isn’t going to be the case for most amazon purchases.

This happens in every segment Amazon has a store or products for.

Another anecdote: my wife wanted to buy a refill for the Clorox brand hydrogen peroxide based sanitizer she prefers to use. There weren't any in stock on Amazon, but she found a third-party that was advertising effectively the same thing (right down to the ingredients indicating a 1.86% by volume solution of hydrogen peroxide). What came from Amazon was something closer to an industrial-grade bleach-like cleaning solution.

It's not the first time this has happened, either: we've had shoddy device charging cables, rechargeable batteries, etc. It has happened enough in the last year that we have substantially drawn back our spending on Amazon, and we will not under any circumstances buy any electronics (devices, accessories, etc.) from there. I'm actually quite close to stopping my Prime membership and cutting them out altogether.

I’ve received crap from Amazon. I’ve stopped buying from there entirely.

The good thing was I noticed it. My worry is when I don’t.

I can usually find something cheaper on a different site (best buy, B&H, Microcenter, Newegg...although Newegg has been really bad for me lately, monoprice, Walmart). And the rare couple of times I don’t, I’m willing to pay the $1-$2 more (I’m much better off in the long run anyways).

Honestly, it’s really really hard to find something that is also available elsewhere, cheaper on Amazon than anywhere else for me. So I’m not willing to take the counterfeit risk, for basically no benefit.

It seems Newegg & Walmart have started selling a lot of 3rd party items. I do not like this trend at all. I've bought from Newegg & been a huge fan for decades. Sad to see them ruin their image.

If I'm not mistaken, Newegg was sold to some Chinese company in 2017 or so.

Even so, I haven't had any trouble with products bought directly from them since then (though the introduction of a captcha just to log into the damn site was rather annoying). Their third party marketplace appears to be a total cesspool, however. I bought some "new" hard drives from two separate vendors... both batches arrived beat to shit, with 35-50k hours of runtime and some with significant error counts.

Only after the fact did I bother looking into it, and notice that ALL vendors in the hard drive category have ratings less than 80%, and plenty of reviews accusing them of selling used as new. Newegg obviously doesn't care. Sad, indeed.

On both Walmart and Newegg, you can filter for products sold only by Walmart/Newegg. It's a slightly annoying step, and I agree with you, it damages their image.

I just bought a car battery jump starter, and two years ago, when I was blissfully ignorant of the severity of the counterfeiting problem, I would’ve bought it from Amazon. Instead, I ordered from Home Depot.

I’m still willing to buy from Amazon items that aren’t potential fire hazards.

Home Depot is good for brand name items. But I started noticing a few years back that a substantial number of the cheap crappy tools I saw at Harbor Freight were showing up Home Depot under another random name, but otherwise identical. Totally fine as long as you know what you're getting into, but many people know to expect that when they shop at HF but not at HD.

Would you know if you purchased a fake yeti tumbler[1], for example, if you didn't have a real one to compare to side-by-side?

[1] https://youtu.be/Uo2GFh6FGsg

The "Amazon's Choice" for "high security lock" is actually a Chinese knockoff [2] but you wouldn't know that unless you are familiar with the original.

[2] https://youtu.be/Gflpf0DrCgw

Even people dying doesn't seem to get products removed


>A 23-year-old man in Missouri purchased a motorcycle helmet from Amazon that was at the time listed as certified as meeting US Department of Transportation safety standards. Later that year, however, he was killed in a crash while riding. A federal investigation later found that the helmet did not meet DOT standards and was recalled. The WSJ, however, found the product still for sale, with an active listing promising compliance, until the WSJ contacted Amazon to inquire about it.

I've received counterfeits of items worth as little as $15, fulfilled by Amazon.

After one especially dangerous purchase from a Fulfilled By Amazon seller, I will no longer buy bicycle components on amazon.

Nothing happened after i reported it, either.

> Nothing happened after i reported it, either.

That's what's so infuriating about Amazon. Amazon should proactively police their store for counterfeits, but they don't. To add insult to injury, they won't even respond in a timely manner to reports of physically and economically impossible counterfeit items that are sold as part of a well known type of fraud [1].

[1] IIRC, I reported some "2TB" microsd cards selling for $10 a few years back, and the listings remained up for weeks. Had the same experience reporting price-gouging on N95 masks and hand sanitizer early in the pandemic, too.

Yes, many counterfeit products across many product areas. Small electronics and children's toys have been the worst. No outright scams yet (brick in a box) but we’ve stopped using Amazon for most things because it’s just not worth the hassle.

The children’s toys are insane! My wife and I stopped buying anything for our daughter from Amazon when she was a few months old. We kept on getting products that were either counterfeits or cheap knockoffs. The most obvious was a book that had clearly been scanned, reprinted, and had a new label very poorly copied/pasted over the original publisher’s name.

Co-worker got a glass jar in a box instead of a Blue Yeti Microphone. Sadly he lost everything because his dad threw out the trash before he could get pictures and return it to Amazon.

Credit card chargeback on that.

I think the fear is that doing a charge back would have repercussions worse than the loss of that order if you continually do business with Amazon.

I stopped buying water filters from Amazon after a few which looked exactly like real thing but tasted funny. Upon very close inspection, there were tiny differences but impossible to notice casually.

I've had multiple water filters break in the filter housing in my fridge, causing a leak onto the floor. I'm only thankful I was home when it happened or it would have flooded the kitchen, and likely more.

Now I just don't use filters. The utility company filters the water well enough.

Same here. Bought some fridge water filters, but they made otherwise perfectly good tap water taste like it had been chlorinated. I have no idea what nastiness was inside. Now I just suck it up and pay full price at HD.

I use a water tester and pH indicator before drinking from a new water filter.

Do you have one that's not a counterfeit to recommend? ;)

Maybe you didn't notice. I've purchased many products from Amazon that were fakes. The worst was a SanDisk SD card that died with my honeymoon pictures on it. Turns out it was a knock-off, missing some SanDisk factory hot stamps. It came in full retail packaging, with user manual - it looked completely correct if you didn't know to look for the hot stamp on the back. By the time I figured it out that vendor was gone from Amazon.

Another datapoint: an SD card purchased this week by a friend was fake. Seller was amazon, not a third party.

If you want to test an SD card, this site details how: https://www.raymond.cc/blog/test-and-detect-fake-or-counterf...

Definitely had it happen more than once. Photographic filters. Clothing. Many items I consider buying have review comments relating to fakes. Plus it's well documented Amzn deliberately comingles inventory. So I buy my filters from B&H and my North Face from...North Face. Hopefully they aren't using Amazon fultillment.

I’m sure it depends on product and category. It’s hard to get a legitimate STM32 on a Blue Pill, for example, from Amazon. But I’ve never received a fake Apple charger. My wife has received two fake BCBG dresses from Amazon and will no longer buy clothes from them. You’ll need some skill to spot clothes fakes. I certainly couldn’t do it.

I imagine companies like Apple spend time scouring Amazon and other websites for unauthorized sellers or even buying one or two to check for fakes. But clearly it's too much for many brands to keep up with, especially if Amazon is only minimally cooperative.

I don't go into the five figures but I haven't had any issues. Or at least nobody who buys through my account has reported any. Pretty much none of it is high margin consumer stuff though. Kinda hard to fake plumbing fittings and fasteners without doing pretty much all the work it takes to do it right in the first place.

I’ve definitely gotten fakes from Amazon before. Most recent was a (pretty well done) fake Nike soccer shorts and shirt for my kid. It didn’t look quite right and I was able to confirm it as a fake. A2Z took care of it.

It seems quite possible you may have had a fake and simply not detected it.

I've had it happen a fair bit, but I buy a LOT on Amazon. Most recently Amazon contacted me about some Gillette razors. They told me to throw them out and they refunded me. That said, the razors were working great, but I threw them away anyways.

I purchased Gillette blades a few years back--the Fusion model--at a great price. Packaging and design looked legitimate. But, on first, use I immediately realized they were counterfeit. The shave was awful (think cheaper blades that are also dull from use).

Returning items is a PITA to me, so I just tossed them and vowed to never buy blades from Amazon again. I never heard anything from Amazon, but it's interesting that years later they still have a problem with Gillette blades.

Yep, mine were Fusion too. Maybe I'm just not sensitive to dull blades.

Do you actually check if the products you get are counterfeit? It's not like it's written "counterfeat, beware!" on it, so I mean the question literally: what steps did you take to ensure that these products where actually what you think you were buying?

I avoid buying electronics from Amazon precisely because distinguishing a counterfeit USB charger from a real one is not easy. And the counterfeit one might result in my house burning down...

Although to be fair there's a Yamada Denki less than a 10 minutes walk away from home, so in terms of convenience it's even better than Amazon...

1) It's not that common, it's not like rolling a 6, but it is very alarming when it happens to you. I've had it happen once and never again bought anything food or baby-related from Amazon.

2) Some of the fakes are very good, you may not know you're getting a fake. But if it's something like a fake Apple charging brick, it won't have anywhere near the safety engineering of the Apple product, so you may not ever notice it but you had a fake. Or you could have a food product that wasn't made to safety standards.

I didn't realize I had an inauthentic pocket knife from Amazon until I lost it and bought a replacement in a store. The shape was the same, but the real one functioned better.

How do you know this wasn’t just due to normal manufacturing variances?

It was a multi tool, and many aspects were better and crisper.

I used to buy things like trousers and socks at Amazon for convenience's sake. The last orders I've gotten have been counterfeits: They're made from material that develops holes within two or three wearings. I can't trust Amazon to deliver what they say they'll deliver. It's a big shift from 20 years ago when I would actually pay more to order something from Amazon because I had more trust in them than some random on-line retailer.

I probably spend as much as you -- though in the past year or so, I've been shopping elsewhere.

There are some products that are "safe" to buy and you won't have to worry but there's a ton of stuff that will randomly be counterfeit. -- even prime stuff.

It's also common for me to order something several times -- and then suddenly get a counterfeit product.

I honestly recommend people use eBay instead or BestBuy :) or Newegg or anyone else essentially.

I've bought several things from Amazon (all electronics) that looked completely legit, but when they failed and I worked with the manufacturer on a warranty claim they turned out to be fakes/counterfeits - very clever ones but identifiable when you knew what to look for.

I haven't looked too closely, but I've bought Duracell / Energizer batteries from Amazon and I suspect they're counterfeit because they die suspiciously quickly. I thought my hardware was broken, but Amazon's batteries seem to work well.

I guess that’s an advantage of buying Amazon branded merchandise? It’s the only brand you know won’t be counterfeited since no other seller has it in their stock.

I do not spend that much on Amazon, but have encountered fraudulent products (shipped & sold by 3rd party). Confirmation bias on both sides aside, I agree with the top comment. Anything I really care about, I buy in store somewhere which matches prices.

Look up 'Samsung earbuds s9' Every single wired pair sold by 3rd parties with the samsung/akg branding is fake, even when they claim to be 'oem' or 'original'. And theres tons of legit looking results.

How do you know that they weren’t counterfeit? It’s often hard to tell.

Amazon sells over 100 million different products. At that scale, especially with 3rd party vendors, some customers are bound be to victims of fraud, while others are unaffected.

How would you know if you had authenticity issues or not?

It's like saying car crashes are not a problem, because you drive thousands of miles per year and have never gotten in a crash

The most obvious counterfeits I’ve gotten were books from third party sellers. Obviously scanned and reprinted tech books.

And they can't even be bothered to OCR them and format them

Never had one in ~15 years buying everything I want and can find on Amazon...at least that I’ve noticed.

Within the past month for Amazon orders, I had a book with 100 pages missing in the middle, and pillows that weren't the size I ordered. YMMV?

I wanted a USB SATA reader in a hurry recently. Only thing Best Buy had was some odd looking $40 thing (might have been on a small sale) that came with a CD. The fancy one I got a while ago on Amazon was <$20 that had a power input for drives that needed it. The comparable one without that? $8. Five times cheaper.

There's just no competition for price besides Wal Mart usually being pretty good and that's why I always go to Amazon first if it's something Wal Mart wouldn't have. Maybe I've had counterfeits but if so they were good enough I didn't notice. The problem seems extremely overblown, as someone who does a very high percentage of their shopping there.

Yeah BB is pretty bad for buying small accessories (not just cables, think mouses, keyboards, hard drives, etc.).

The varieties are very low, and (therefore) prices are ridiculous.

You can argue their price is the same as Amazon for the ones the have, but there usually are plenty of quality cheap alternatives online (Amazon Basic, monoprice, etc.).

Did you read in the article the part about Best Buy matching prices? That seems to undercut your assertion that price is a differentiator.

Home Depot, Lowes, and Menards all price match. Let's say you go looking for a water softener. You'll see three nearly identical products under different brand names.

The accessories Best Buy makes money on are going to be harder to price match, because they could be exclusive, or not popular on other sites, possibly listed at even higher prices.

Going in to Best Buy to get a price matched game makes sense, but buying a cable might be 4x-8x the price.

and: seven of us said the same thing all within 5 minutes, guess this was a dead horse to beat.

If its on Amazon they will price match Amazons price. I assume they subsidize all this by the number of customers who dont ask. There was a BestBuy I went to where the guy looked it up without me asking to see if he could bring down a laptops price bases on what Amazon listed it as at the time. I think he saved me $10 or something.

I think you might have missed the point of the parent comment.

They agreed with you, that if BB has the exact same item as Amazon, they would match the price. It would work for "unique" products that aren't just very generic, easily replaceable, and don't have a significant variation, where a customer would prefer a very specific model of the item (like headphones, videogames, movies, tvs, monitors, etc.). If you want to buy Die Hard trilogy on Blu Ray, you probably won't be satisfied with buying Rambo trilogy on Blu Ray, despite them being somewhat similar. You care about the exact model of the item here.

But if you just want to buy something generic, like a USB-C to USB-C cable, it isn't something that people have brand loyalty towards, it is something very generic and easily replaceable. You don't care about the brand, you just want a USB-C cable that supports Thunderbolt 3 spec and is at least 6ft long. On Amazon, you will have bajillion choices from different brands across all price ranges. At BB, you will have a couple of brands that are probably not even on Amazon for various reasons (e.g., it could be a BB exclusive version of that item) and are significantly overpriced. And you cannot just price match any USB-C cable to any USB-C cable that meets the same spec and is the same length, it has to be that exact same model.

So, for example, if the "premium" brand version on Amazon costs $20, cheap one costs $8, and the only version from a completely different brand available at Best Buy is barely even the same quality as the "cheap" one from Amazon but costs $40, it makes no sense to buy it from BB.

I bought a $449 Dell monitor @ Best Buy and saw they price matched Dell.com which was on sale for $329. No issues getting it knocked down to $329. They do often have different sku's so sometimes you'll see the same product thats a different sku.

The same product but different names and SKUs is a game the mattress industry plays very well which keeps prices elevated and the 'price match guarantee' game impossible to win for consumers.

They definitely have got better, absolutely.

But there are still products where BBY has its own SKU for a product. "Oh, that 8TB WD drive is cheaper? Shame it's a WD8TB2020-AMZN, we only carry the WD8TB2020-BBY".

The GP doesn’t say they were the same product. My guess is the $40 Best Buy product was something like a Belkin, while the $8 Amazon one was one of those random-letters-in-all-caps brand names that may or may not have a new random name a few months from now.

Best Buy: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/apricorn-data-transfer-cable-gr...

Might have gotten the listed sales price, can't remember well. Still more even so.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F7WDZGT

I'm stunned that they would price match that. They're two totally different products. Seems ripe for abuse.

I didn't mean to say they did, I'm just giving the two products. Someone else went out to get the thing and I'm not sure what they actually paid. I think the store matched the online sale price.

As others have said, the price matching is only on the same item and Best Buy will go as far as getting a special UPC made for them so they can say it's not the same. And in this case they were entirely different brands.

Yes, I was talking more about the statement, “There's just no competition for price.” But as it was pointed out to me (several times over, lol) that it’s not always so simple when price matching.

Only for the exact same item, no? They were almost certainly different brands.

They've also started doing a thing where they have the manufacturer produce a different part number specifically for their store. Then even though it's the exact same item, they claim it isn't.

That sounds really wrong to me and dependant on the store itself. My local BestBuy stores would price match it. Hell I have asked a manager to lower the cost on a open box product that was their display machine. Saved me $150 if I remember correctly.

Started? That's older than the average HN user.

That requires that the same item be available at Best Buy.

Who knew that Best Buy's USP was simply shipping the product you actually bought?

(For those like me who don't know the jargon: USP in this context seems to stand for "unique selling point".)

Thank you. I’ve seen that for years and thought it was related to the USP used in vitamin labeling, and knew that wasn’t right, but assumed it was a kind of UL type thing. Wrong context entirely.

best buy has real problems with fraud too, on r/datahoarder you can read on an almost daily basis about people finding drives that have had the original (expensive) drive removed, replaced with some crappy 500GB drive, and repackaged.

This feels tongue in cheek but it’s legit. As you scale the operation of being low latency (2 day Prime shipping) globally distributed (Amazon distribution network) CDN (stuff in warehouses) to the size of Amazon, it becomes a legit hard problem to match the per product validation that smaller retailers can achieve by drastically reducing and centralizing their distribution method (chain stores, focus on only one niche category of products like consumer electronics or specific clothing brand).

I think Amazon has reached the too big to succeed stage of its growth. Putting aside counterfeiting issues, just finding a product on Amazon can be a nightmare.

You have to have great machine learning and information organization solutions to function at that scale and I think it’s where the seams really show on Amazon’s two pizza team approach and deeply fractured dogfooding approaches to rely on internal versions of their external ML consumer services.

The problem is that Amazon scaled by accepting sketchy merchandise from pseudonymous dropshippers who obviously aren't legit manufacturers. Retail customers shouldn't have to wonder where a product came from, that was the whole point of branding them.

No, they got sketchy sellers after scaling (mostly as a bookseller).

The ironic part of that for me is that Best Buy where I grew up had a terrible reputation for selling returned stuff as new, sometimes shoved into the wrong re-heatshrunk box. I'm glad someone's doing well against Amazon, but I'm utterly surprised that Best Buy is the one that came out smelling like a rose.

And it’s all a bunch of low quality drek. And I dread buying name brand products. I have had to send back numerous 100-300 items back to amazon because they sent me obviously opened and damaged items or a counterfeit item. About 1/10 things I bought were garbage and not the right thing. This year I have seriously considered canceling Amazon prime.

I’m not sure what’s going on with your orders. I’ve had a few Amazon misadventures, but they’re pretty far between. Pro tip: don’t buy the absolute cheapest version of a thing. If you’re looking for FooCorp’s Widgetmaster and most listings are for $75, don’t pick the $60 one.

But you have to go out of your way to do that, which means it will not be done by any meaningful number of people, which means that Amazon sees a benefit in it being as it is. Or else at least doesn't see enough benefit in fixing it.

They may have the statistics to prove it, I still order from them and I have definitely gotten counterfeit goods but they've also consistently refunded my order when it gets messed up. Maybe they figure that the cost of fixing it is higher than the cost of replacing the item for the fraction of customers that notice.

I avoid third party sellers. Most of the items are sold by Amazon themselves. They have serious problems. I think it depends on what you are buying and how unlucky you are.

This. I always buy electronic goods from BestBuy or Newegg for this reason, as soon as it became clear Amazon really doesn’t care that much about guarding against the counterfeiters

Have you ever tried to return anything to Newegg?

I just tried to return something. They wouldn't honor their returns policy. There are a lot of similar complaints.

And since the last ownership shuffle they've been emphasizing their version of 3rd-party marketplace and reducing the number of items they sell directly. One advantage I think they still have is slightly more informative reviews. Plus many vendors will monitor NewEgg for negative reviews and reach out to the customer to resolve the issue. That happens on Amazon too, but they aren't as transparent as when a review gets upgraded. Where on NewEgg you can see the vendor's reply.

Yeah. I used to be all-Newegg for tech stuff, but the 3rd party marketplace made them no better than Amazon, so I quit bothering going to Newegg. Honestly, Best Buy is my first choice for tech stuff today, although their selection is more limited so I don't always buy from them.

Er, unless you buy from a third party on the Best Buy website? Which is a thing I was disappointed to find out they started doing a while ago.

I also prefer buying best buy used over amazon "warehouse" used. Its way more likely the best buy used product is recently returned and in decent working order. I've got nothing but horror stories recently from amazon warehouse.

Exactly. It was years ago that I last stepped foot in a Best Buy but just in 2020 alone I've been 5 times already. If my purchase is electronics and above $50, I check Best Buy first for local pickup, then B&H Photo and amazon last.

I bought my entire new 2020 gaming computer in individual parts, in person across 2-3 Best Buys in my area, except for the high end fans I wanted which came from Newegg. They're expanding what they carry, price match online, I get it immediately, and I know it's not counterfeit or a shady return they're selling me.

Pretty sad Frys seems to (maybe) be going under. Especially since they'd price match. I heard they're having problems with suppliers and are still trying to stay open, but a visit to the store really looks hopeless for it's future.

Same with Target. I’ve switched nearly all of my household buying over to Target because they have an awesome app, good shipping, and no counterfeits.

I used to feel the same about Target until my SO mentioned that they have a 3rd party marketplace now. Is that true? I didn't bother to check yet

Yes and it's got the same counterfeits and totally fake garbage from the same sellers who sell on Amazon, Walmart, and Newegg.

Apparently its a curated list at the moment and invite only for 3rd party sellers.


I forget the specifics, but we've already seen some recent garbage listings on Target. This was a mistake.

I feel like they need to advertise it on the front door. "Our big online competitor is known for shipping counterfeits"

Something tells me that they would get sued.

Concur. Safer to imply it by saying: “WE are known for NOT selling counterfeits.”

Truth is an affirmative defense to libel.

Can you libel a party without ever naming them?

Yes. “My opponent is a pedophile” in a political race would still be libel. (Well, if untrue.)

Their shipping is also quite fast. At the beginning of the stay-at-home orders when Amazon was really struggling, I had couple of things delivered next day for free. It likely has to do with where you're at, but I was surprised because I had not ordered anything from Best Buy in ages when it would take anywhere from 5-14 days.

I tend to use other retailers for electronics, but this alone has driven me away from Amazon.

Well, maybe I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum. I worry that at Best Buy, I'm going to:

1) pay more than I should,

2) be buying someone's returned/opened merchandise that they just put back on the shelf, and

3) hassled if I discover it and try to return it.

Best Buy price matches Amazon: "We match local retail competitors (including their online prices) and these qualifying online retailers: Amazon.com, Crutchfield.com, Dell.com, HP.com and TigerDirect.com."

I've never had trouble with their returns. The most painful part has been waiting in line at the returns counter.

Yep, Best Buy has a customer for life in me because one time they replaced a nice laptop that was clearly outside the warranty. I was shocked and said it shouldn't be covered but the returns guy insisted. Whenever Best Buy comes up in conversation I mention my experience: the free PR they've gotten from that one return they gave me is probably half their total revenue by now :)

Maybe online, but I don’t see many products at best buy worth counterfeiting. Do you have an example?

I've certainly heard of counterfeit computer mice. Counterfeit movies, cds, and video games is easy to imagine. Headphones.

Apple accessories.

Extremely true. I have a Best Buy 2 miles from my house. I pretty much just use them for everything electronic that is mass market now. For boards and things MicroCenter. Won't buy from Amazon. Don't trust them at all to ship legitimate product.

Exactly. I always buy electronic goods from BestBuy or Newegg for this reason, as soon as it became clear Amazon really doesn’t care that much about guarding against the counterfeiters

I spend $10k/year on Amazon. The only counterfeit product I've gotten? A crêpe spatula that was flimsy and clearly not like the product pictures.

Am I lucky or are you guys not able to detect suspicious product listings/sellers? I see them sometimes. They are easy to avoid.

> Am I lucky or are you guys not able to detect suspicious product listings/sellers? I see them sometimes. They are easy to avoid.

Perhaps the posters you are replying to are simply choosing to buy from places where they don’t have to spend the mental energy to do this.

It seems kind of absurd to me(and I’m not trying to be negative towards you- I sparingly shop on Amazon due to its convenience) that a retailer can convince their buyers that this is normal.

I thought part of the problem was the commingling of stock, so that even if the seller seems legit, the product you receive could be from a counterfeit seller?

> Am I lucky or are you guys not able to detect suspicious product listings/sellers? I see them sometimes. They are easy to avoid.

This is a skill that shouldn’t be required on Amazon. You don’t walk into a supermarket carefully inspecting every item to make sure it isn’t shady. You expect the supermarket to do that for you.

Shopping on amazon often feels like buying wares from a rolled out blanket on the sidewalk in comparison.

There are certain items that are more susceptible:

- kids toys

- any kind of supplements/protein powder/etc.

- cheaper electronics/cables/etc.

I'd add all high profit margin fashion items like clothing and cosmetics. There's already a market of counterfeits for these goods and it's natural for them to use Amazon for more sales.

> any kind of supplements/protein powder/etc.

The severity is bad if counterfeit but isn't this unlikely to happen because anything edible can't be commingled?

Anti-commingle doesn't help if you buy from a third party seller.

>> I see them sometimes. They are easy to avoid.

I think the point is that they shouldn't be there in the first place.

Another massive halo for Best Buy in my opinion is their eWaste recycling program. Who else lets you take old gear, even big things like printers, and drop off to be responsibly recycled. It is crazy convenient and gives me a reason to shop there. Our store has shut down this due to COVID but I am looking forward to being able to recycle some more outdated IT gear when they resume. My dad has more eWaste staged in his basement to recycle as well.

I would argue this is another genius move on BB's part.

Who better to buy new electronics than someone who has:

- clearly bought electronics in the past

- is knowledgeable about e-waste recycling (guessing there is a strong correlation between this and disposable income)

- is now inside your store because you have an e-waste recycling program

This by itself would be a brilliant move.

Beside the click-bait title, it reflects an interesting feat. The turnaround of an electronic store in US where Amazon and Walmart are grabbing more and more market shares. I am glad that Best Buy found a more profitable path. I also bought my TV and replaced my microwave at Best Buy. The price was matching Amazon and I could see the products, and get them home. Employees were friendly and helpful. It was a nice experience.

"fixed broken systems, like an internal search engine that gave bad data about which products were in stock;"

My Dad bought a TV at Best Buy several days ago. He looked for the model he wanted, couldn't find it. Went to the front desk and asked, they looked it up and sure enough it wasn't in stock. My Dad walks to the back of the store, finds the exact TV model he wanted with no assistance from any 'blue shirt'.

Sounds like they still have some work to do lol

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