King Of The Beach™ noticed that many people have been purchasing fake volleyballs online. Unfortunately, there are many fake merchandises out there. So we advise all of you volleyball lovers to buy your volleyballs on either King Of The Beach or Spalding Official website. Below is an article by Forbes teaching consumers how to avoid dangerous counterfeits on Amazon.
How To Avoid Dangerous Counterfeits On Amazon
If you asked me last year how to safeguard yourself against counterfeit and otherwise unregulated or hazardous items on Amazon — such as perfume that contains urine, lash enhancing serum that makes your eyelashes fall out, “Apple” chargers that melt, “Samsung” batteries that can burn your house down, moving straps that tear in half, and solar eclipse glasses that don’t really work — I would have told you to avoid the marketplace’s unvetted third party sellers, as it is extremely difficult to ensure the quality or veracity of what you’re actually ordering. I would have advised you to stick to Amazon’s Prime items, those that are “shipped from and sold by Amazon.com,” or to buy directly from the authentic manufacturers.
However, I can no longer give the same advice this Christmas season.
Fulfilled by Amazon can be a smokescreen for counterfeiters
Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) is a program that Amazon offers third party merchants where Amazon handles all aspects of sale, warehousing, and shipment once a seller sends their products in to their warehouses. This is a program that is built for maximum speed, and all products with the same SKUs get mixed in together, regardless of who the individual sellers who shipped them in are. This means that counterfeits can be commingled with authentic products, and not even Amazon (apparently) can easily determine where they came from. This gives an added level of protection to counterfeiters, as the smokescreen between them and the nefarious products they spike Amazon’s supply chain with is often incredibly thick.
In terms of negative reviews for counterfeits bought FBA, these often go directly onto the original product listing rather than on the profile of the actual sellers who planted them in Amazon’s warehouses, which can do irreparable damage to the reputations of the authentic brands whose items are being knocked-off.
Prime is not a safe haven from fakes
Even Amazon Prime is no defense against counterfeit and other illicit items, as we’ve seen numerous times throughout the past year:
“Just because a Prime logo is present doesn’t mean it’s sold by Amazon. In actuality, any of Amazon’s 3 million marketplace sellers can use the Amazon warehouse to house and ship their items and get the so-called “coveted” mark on its products,” Fred Dimyan, the co-founder of Potoo Marketing, told AOL.com.
Chris Hoffman from howtogeek.com concurred:
“Products that are “fulfilled by Amazon” may have the “Prime” logo that makes them look like they’re sold by Amazon–but they aren’t. You’re still buying a product from a third-party seller. The third-party seller ships that product to Amazon’s warehouses and Amazon ships it to you. However, Amazon doesn’t necessarily confirm that the product is legitimate before shipping it to you.”
“Ships from and sold by Amazon.com” is not even immune to counterfeits
When giving advice on how to safely shop on Amazon, many sites recommend exclusively buying from the so-called “real Amazon store,” which is demarcated by listings that have the “ships from and sold by Amazon.com” label:
Shipped and sold by Amazon.com means that the product is shipped and sold by Amazon Retail (via Vendor Central or Vendor Express) directly. Basically, the manufacturer sends product to Amazon.com at a set price through a traditional PO process.
However, even “ships from and sold by Amazon.com” products are not immune to counterfeits, as these items too are often commingled into the general FBA stock:
All those products often get pooled together by bar code, regardless of whether they come from the brands themselves or other distributors. That way, Amazon can grab whichever product that’s ordered at the nearest warehouse to the customer.
That means even if you buy something that is technically sold by Amazon under the brand’s name, you might end up with a product supplied by a third-party merchant, which may or may not be the real thing.
A report from the Wall Street Journal provided an example of how this happens:
Sometimes, fakes can get mixed in. Justin Dunham, a mathematics professor in Kansas City, Mo., said his wife bought him what was supposed to be a Tovolo King Cube Ice Tray from Amazon. A receipt for the $8.50 purchase shows it was sold by Amazon, not a third-party seller.
The tray was flimsy, water spilled easily and it broke after a few uses, Mr. Dunham said. He later picked up an authentic Tovolo ice tray at a kitchenware store and saw the difference.
At least three recent lawsuits put exclamation points on the fact that counterfeits are not reserved to Amazon’s third party marketplace.
Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, filed litigation against Amazon in October for being the direct seller of what they allege to be counterfeit Mercedes-Benz wheel caps. The listings for the offending products were clearly marked “ships from and sold by Amazon.com.” In the litigation, Daimler expressly mentioned that this was especially disconcerting because of the fact that consumers tend to view the “ships from and sold by Amazon.com” label as a safeguard against counterfeit goods, “believing that items they purchase from Amazon will be vetted by Amazon and authentic.”
Jon Fawcett, founder of the Kickstarter startup Fuse Chicken, had a similar experience as Mercedes-Benz, discovering counterfeits of his products were also being sold on Amazon as “shipped from and sold by Amazon.com.” Like Daimler, he also filed litigation against the e-commerce giant.
Allstar Marketing / Intel / Ideavillage also filed a similar trademark infringement lawsuit against Amazon at the end of 2016 for, among other infractions, selling counterfeits of their products marked “shipped from and sold by Amazon.com.”
Counterfeits are an important issue for consumers
According to a recent report by Red Points, a European firm dedicated to brand and copyright protection, 2 out of 3 parents they surveyed were aware that fake products can be hazardous, “since they are not regulated for health and safety standards.” 72% of these same parents claimed that they would outright stop buying a product if they became aware that counterfeits of it were in the market and 36% responded that they would switch to a competing brand if there was a reasonable chance they could end up with a fake.
Of the parents surveyed, 83% also claimed that they shop for toys on Amazon and a full 90% felt confident that the e-commerce platform is a safe place to make such purchases. However, after being shown images of real vs. fake products, 61% realized they couldn’t distinguish between the two.
So what are shoppers to do?
At root, Amazon is an incredibly innovative, fundamentally disruptive company that provides consumers around the world with a new way to shop and obtain the things they want and need. At this point, it has become extremely difficult to avoid the e-commerce platform in countries like the USA — where Amazon has a 34% market share of online sales and has just claimed half of all online Black Friday sales. However, what seems to be an appalling lack of internal regulation and a tendency to put low prices, fast shipping times, and big profits over regulatory law has left customers in a bind:
Is convenience and savings worth the risk of getting a potentially hazardous counterfeit product?
Julie Zerbo from the Fashion Law blog advises customers to “limit their purchases exclusively to products sold by the brands themselves, either by way of them selling on Amazon’s platform directly, via an authorized account, or by way of a partnership with Amazon, as Calvin Klein, for instance, recently began doing.”
Fred Dimyan, the CEO of Potoo Marketing, recommends shoppers to only buy from Amazon Prime, as at least shipping is guaranteed and, in the event that you do receive a fake, the return process is simplified.
While Linnea Catalan of the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance — a group that has been working to get counterfeit and unsafe childcare products off of Amazon and eBay — advises customers to educate themselves on what compliant products look like, and to “buy reputable brands from authorized retailers, whether in person or online,” stressing that customers “need to understand that if something seems to good to be true price-wise, it probably is.”
My personal recommendation when shopping on Amazon is to always buy directly from the manufacturer — preferably those who handle their own fulfillment. However, this is not as straight forward as it probably should be. Often, even when you click to buy a product from the authentic brand you need to be careful that the seller doesn’t unexpectedly change during the purchasing process — such as when changing size, color, etc.
When the photos and descriptions of counterfeit and authentic items on Amazon are exactly the same, when knock-offs are sold on the exact same listings as the products they masquerade as, it is often difficult for shoppers to safeguard themselves from illicit products short of avoiding the e-commerce platform altogether and buying direct from the manufacturer’s website or going to brick and mortar establishments — who actually still vet their supply chains to ensure that customers are not receiving dangerous counterfeits … like in the good old days.
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