Home » Advertising-Promotion-Marketing, Amazon » Amazon is complicit with counterfeiting

Amazon is complicit with counterfeiting

4 March 2018

From Elevation Lab:

When someone goes to the lengths of making counterfeits of your products, it’s at least a sign you’re doing something right. And it deserves a minute of flattery.

But when Chinese counterfeiters tool up and make copies of your product, send that inventory to Amazon, then overtake the real product’s buy box by auto-lowering the price – it’s a real problem. Customers are unknowingly buying crap versions of the product, while both Amazon and the scammers are profiting, and the reputation you’ve built goes down the toilet.

And if you’ve paid Amazon a boat load of money to advertise the product you’ve designed, built, invested in, and shipped – it’s further insult to injury. And when new counterfeit sellers keep popping up every week so you have to play whack-a-mole with Amazon, who take days to remove the sellers, it’s the beginning of the end for your small business.

This is exactly what has happened to us. Our popular product The Anchor, the first under desk headphone mount, with 1500+ reviews, has been getting flooded with counterfeits. The current counterfeit seller, suiningdonghanjiaju Co Ltd (sounds legit), has been on there for the past 5 days and taken all the sales.

. . . .

They literally reverse engineered it, made steel compression molds, made the logo wrong, used fake 3M adhesive that’s very thin and was diecut smaller than the top (measure once, cut twice), they use a lower durometer silicone so it flexes more, its has huge mold parting lines, and the packaging is literally photocopied then reprinted (you can tell by the lack of image contrast). And they had to apply a big sticker to cover our SKU with theirs. But to the untrained eye, it would pass. Can’t wait for the negative reviews to come…

Link to the rest at Elevation Lab and thanks to Paul for the tip.

PG agrees that, as a part of maintaining Amazon’s position as the best place to sell a large number of things, the company should police counterfeits. If you check the OP, you’ll see the Chinese company used the same product name, copy, photos, etc., as Elevation Lab used. If the Chinese product is inferior, Elevation Lab could be damaged by bad reviews, etc., in addition to having sales diverted to its competitor.

Such activities appear to run afoul of a variety of Federal and state laws prohibiting false advertising.

On the other hand, Elevation Lab is selling a very simple product, even if it has the design and engineering virtues described in the OP.

Unless Elevation Lab has some sort of patent/design patent protection for the product in question, competitors that avoid using the company’s product name, exactly copying its product description, etc., could likely sell a similar product without violating any law PG can think of this morning.

While PG is from the “put the headphone in a drawer or leave it on the desk” school of headphone management, he did discover that headphone mounts are an extremely competitive product category on Amazon.

Advertising-Promotion-Marketing, Amazon

12 Comments to “Amazon is complicit with counterfeiting”

  1. “… the first under desk headphone mount …”

    Sorry, kid, but I re-bent an old wire coat-hanger for that use way back before Windows 2000 came out. (I thought it such a simple idea that I didn’t bother patenting it.)

    “And if you’ve paid Amazon a boat load of money to advertise the product you’ve designed, built, invested in, and shipped – it’s further insult to injury.”

    And ya, PG, it’s funny they didn’t bother mentioning any patent/design patent protection – perhaps because there were too many other patents out there that ‘they’ infringed on? 😉

  2. it is true: amaz is way behind in policing counterfeits.

    Remains to be seen what will happen.

    Have bought several products over the last year that turned out to be cheap knockoffs, carrying the registered name brand.

    They were returned, and money refunded, but it seems a really weird practice by amazon to sell branded products that arent. Seems just the payout of money to the thieving org to an offshore acct if any, would show up in the tax audits as red flag

    • One problem is Amazon being able to confirm who’s who – never mind if it’s a Walmart type game where the makers actually make their very own cheap knockoffs to sell – with their own names on it.

      (Go write down some part numbers on the ‘Sony’ gear at Walmart and compare it to what appears to be the very same equipment sold at a Sony store. They may even ‘claim’ the same specs, but the part numbers won’t match so you can’t force them to ‘price match’ the gear.)

      So who’s the fake – if there is a fake?

      Amazon just waits until they have something they can act on …

    • This is an ongoing problem with Epson inkjet cartridges. It’s a crapshoot as to whether you’ll get an actual Epson cartridge or a knock-off that gives an “unrecognized by printer” error message. If you read the reviews, there’s a way to tell which one you’ve gotten. Yes, Amazon refunds your money, but the annoyance of getting a cartridge that won’t work led me to go back to purchasing at an Office Max store.

      Yesterday, I couldn’t resist the convenience of one-click ordering. This morning I’m wondering if I’ll regret my decision when the cartridge arrives tomorrow.

  3. Terrence OBrien

    I glued two pieces of wood under my workbench to hold safety glasses. Looked pretty similar. Been there for a few years.

  4. I gather that the company is not upset that a competing company is selling knock-offs of their product so much as that the competing knock-offs are being sold on the same Amazon product page as their real, original product, and that the “buy now” button is being given to a knock-off listing as opposed to a real product listing. Which means people are going to that specific product page, thinking they’re buying the real product, and being shipped a knock-off. This is not about the existence of knock-offs in general. It’s about knock-offs being shipped to customers who bought the original. I don’t understand why some people on here don’t seem to get that or understand why it’s a problem.

    I once went to the product page for a Nintendo game that was getting hard to find and used the ‘buy now’ button. The product page was definitely for the official, US version of the game, yet what was shipped to me was the Arab version. I was PO’d. Yes, I was able to ship it back to Amazon and get a refund, but that doesn’t change the fact that it happened and that I was annoyed and inconvenienced by it. I did learn that if I ever buy from any seller that isn’t Amazon itself (or a similar large distributor), to check the details on that individual listing very carefully and, if buying used, to always look for listings that have a photo of the actual item being sold, not a stock photo.

    So yes, I learned a lesson and changed my shopping practices to account for these problems. But that doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist or that Amazon doesn’t have any responsibility to make sure that the item a customer buys is the item they are shipped.

    • “But that doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist or that Amazon doesn’t have any responsibility to make sure that the item a customer buys is the item they are shipped.”

      One problem Amazon has is until a customer has a problem Amazon doesn’t know there’s a problem. So after a few complaints Amazon smells the smoke and hopefully puts it out before it becomes a fire.

      The second problem Amazon faces is one of false claims. What better way to knock a competitor off Amazon than to have a bunch of friends buy something and the return it claiming it’s fake. If Amazon ‘jumped’ on each of them quickly a large company could keep a lot of their competition off Amazon for extended periods of time.

      We’ve watched this game on these very pages. ‘Amazon isn’t doing enough to stop the KU/ebook scammers! Amazon isn’t working fast enough to stop those scammers!’ and then suddenly we start seeing ‘Amazon locked my account for no reason – they should make sure of things before they treat me like a scammer!’

      For most people Amazon is working – otherwise they’d be going out of business. Yes, there are problems here and there, but I can’t think of any store that’s always 100% perfect (and don’t get me started about the things on Walmart shelves with ‘best by’ dates of three days ago …)

      As far as ‘responsibility’, can you name a company that tries to fix customer issues once they come up faster or better than Amazon?

  5. I went to their page, I couldn’t find a way to buy anything other than their prodict, from them. They even have an ‘Amazon Choice’ tag next to them. I’m betting they aren’t complaining about that. I almost always buy the items with that tag.

  6. Ashe Elton Parker

    Amazon is so big that seems to me that in order to continually police for counterfeits, it would have to create and staff a wnole new branch of the company just to do so–and this just may be cost-prohibitive if the staff is going to be able to catch up to and keep up the task.

  7. They’re even counterfeiting board games now.


  8. Every day, thousands of people unwittingly shop on an e-commerce site operated by San Francisco-based Blue Marble Products, LLC, which admitted in a July 12, 2017 federal court document it does not “manufacture, produce, own or store any products that are listed” on the estimated 120+ sites Blue Marble currently operates,

    Instead, Blue Marble “scrapes” proprietary data (product pictures, listing information, etc.) from Amazon, Amazon Handmade, Etsy and AliExpress, copying the information directly to sites like Hobby Gorilla, a GoDaddy domain name registered on March 5, 2018 (formerly Hobby Chimp) and Child and Cradle (formerly Soft Cradle).

    The Amazon listed products and other items are then listed on Blue Marble-operated sites, along with grossly inflated prices.

    For example, a beach towel sold on Amazon for $17.50 appeared on Bed Bath Deluxe at twice the price: $35.00.

    And although Bed Bath Deluxe morphed on Friday, March 2 into Bed Bath Luxury, that parrot towel is still available—at the same bloated price.

    According to consumer complaints submitted to the Better Business Bureau about Hobby Chimp and Ripoff Report complaints about Bed Bath Deluxe, items ordered are either never delivered, or the consumer received a “cheap imitation” of the item they thought they’d purchased.

    Purchases are shipped from the original Amazon seller as a “gift” without showing on the accompanying invoice the true cost of the item.

    Phone-based customer service is nonexistent, and executed solely via email using the Zendesk platform, with offshore reps.

    In my opinion, this scandal is easily equivalent to the spate of counterfeits sold on Amazon.

    You can read more about it on my blog:

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