Friday, 19 September 2008

Avoiding Fake Products on eBay

If only the words '100% authentic' were always used honestly. Unfortunately, there are heaps of fakes on eBay and unfortunately they are VERY hard to spot without experience and specialised knowledge - especially before you pay your good money and get the item home!

I've been buying and selling on eBay for a while and I'll admit that I have sold fakes - at least I'm confident that they were even though my supplier told me that they were authentic. I sold them on eBay for what I paid for them just to get rid of them and didn't say in my listing that they were authentic - I even told some buyers who asked that I doubted that they were - but I couldn't really say for sure.

Here is the formula that I follow now and it has worked well to keep me clear of fakes on eBay.

1. If something is too good to be true then it is! Do you really think that Ralph Lauren Polo produces thousands and thousands of extra polo shirts every week and allows their manufacturers to sell these babies at next to nothing? I'll tell you now that the only way to get an authentic RLP shirt is to go to a department store or boutique - or buy from someone who bought it from the same. The same goes for LV, Prada, Versace etc. You are not getting the real thing just because it could be made by the real manufacturer - though I doubt that most designers will have such lax controls over their contractors that they could get away with it. It 's just too convenient. The same goes for any brand that you see advertised in abundance on eBay brand new. It just doesn't happen.

2. If the price is rock bottom then the goods are fake. How do you think that anyone can get their hands on a current season $2000 LV bag and resell it for $80! They can't! But they can get fakes for next to nothing and flog them off with the title 100% Authentic! (You can get authentic goods at great discount prices, don't get me wrong. There is huge and legitimate industry in selling department store returns and shelf pulls etc - just don't expect to get a lot of this stuff until the season is over.)

3. If the seller doesn't guarantee authenticity with a full money back guarantee then they are probably not trustworthy. Have you ever seen something that is "authentic" and the seller had a line in their auction that said - all sales final, no money back, etc etc. They expect you to be unhappy with their product and know that they are going to get complaints.

4. Stick with sellers who have sold a lot of the product and have lots of positive feedback for the item. The feedback system is the genius of eBay.

5. Buy from sellers who have registered their business. These guys are more likely than anyone to have the ability to get contracts with authorised distributors.

6. Don't buy something that you haven't seen the real photo of. Heaps of eBay sellers are getting away with posting images that they've poached from the official sites - especially with RLP, LV and Ipods. Expect and insist on the seller posting a picture that they have taken with their own camera of the product. If anything doesn't look 100% don't touch it.

7. Go to the trouble of checking out an authentic item first. Go to a boutique and check out the real thing so that you know what it looks like and what sort of tags and packaging it really comes in. Check your experience against the auction item.

8. As a rule don't buy anything from Hong Kong, China or India. I bought 20 Polo Shirts to try out a supplier and when they arrived they had come from India. I don't know about you, but I just couldn't believe that there was a valid reason why shirts that were supposedly made in Malaysia sold to me by a guy in Australia should have come from India. That and the fact that there was just something not right about the colors...

9. Ask the seller where they get their supplies. If they won't tell you, or if they indicate that they buy in bulk from the manufacturer or anyone else except an authorised distribution network or department store then say goodbye.

10. FINALLY, Trust your instincts. We live and learn a lot in life and out instincts become pretty fine tuned if we learn to trust them. You've seen the real stuff before. Do you get a feeling that the item you're looking at on eBay is a bit off. In this case - especially if the other parts of the formula aren't present (good feeback, guarantees etc) - stay away.

Unfortnately for all of us the counterfeiting industry is a multi-BILLION dollar business. Even the authorised distributors and resellers sometimes get it wrong and buy fakes (I read a sad story about a woman who was taking medication for a while and she was seeing no improvement so she went back to her pharmacist only to discover that the drugs were fake. Even the pharmacist hadn't realised and he'd been selling the stuff for months!)

There is nothing worse than buying a fake. It 's a real disappointment. Best to just save up the full price and buy from within the authorised network.


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