Shoppers beware when you purchase a product on Amazon.co.uk, don't expect to get the real thing. You might as well be shopping in one of China's fake markets.
We recently did some secret shopping on Amazon.co.uk on a branded product we stock - the ION Factory Predator Zero Carbon Fibre iPhone case - RRP £42.95. We placed orders with 7 out of the 8 sellers selling the product on Amazon.co.uk. 6 of those orders turned out to be fake cases. Yes that is right, 6 out of the 7 items we received from Amazon.co.uk turned out to be counterfeits. One of the counterfeit cases we purchased for £39.95 was warehoused and dispatched by Amazon themselves.
Everyone trusts Amazon, as they are one of the world's biggest & most successful ecommerce companies. This is misplaced trust. You wouldn't expect your shopping basket to be full of fake goods on a quick shopping trip to Tesco.com.
It seems that Amazon is now the number one place for rogue traders to sell their counterfeit products online as Amazon go out of their way to hide a sellers identity, all you see is their username.
The Amazon system allows anyone to setup shop, hide their identity and sell fake products on Amazon's network of sites in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and USA. Amazon will even provide full warehousing and a global distribution service for a sellers counterfeit goods. These fake goods will be delivered in Amazon branded packaging. Makes you think doesn't it?
You would be safer buying off eBay as you are clearly shown if the eBay seller is a registered business or private individual, how long they have been on eBay, their company name, company address, company number and vat number.
When we informed Amazon about the fake case they advised us "to contact the seller to explain the situation and to make appropriate arrangements". Does Amazon really expect their customers to sort out the problems of receiving counterfeit goods? We contacted the first seller and they said "sorry we didn't realise they were fake", they gave us a refund, blamed it on their supplier and removed the products from Amazon. That was it, a problem solved.
However what happens with all the other customers who have purchased that same fake case from the same rogue seller on Amazon? Absolutely nothing!! At the moment the rogue seller only issues a refund to the person that complains. No other customer is informed or refunded. The rogue seller & Amazon get to keep the cash made from selling the fakes on Amazon. It's a win win situation for the rogue seller and Amazon. Surely this is wrong, if not illegal, on every count.
All 6 of the rogue sellers we purchased from are still selling on Amazon today, some still have their fake cases listed. I bet the fakes wouldn't have appeared if Amazon had a zero tolerance policy for sellers found selling fake items.
If the sellers were properly investigated it would be very easy to find out who their suppliers are and if the suppliers have counterfeit goods in their warehouse. We aren't talking rocket science here.
What happens to the counterfeit stock in Amazon warehouses - is it going to be returned to the seller? Should it be destroyed? Should trading standards be informed?
It is extremely damaging for the brand owners and official retailers. Rogue sellers are taking all of our sales & profits. There are now lots of customers with counterfeit ION Factory cases purchased from amazon.co.uk. This will ruin ION Factory's reputation. It will not take long for customers to start leaving bad reviews on ION Factory when their case fall apart not realising they bought a fake.
Amazon's business model has completely changed since the days they just sold books. Now they are a huge selling platform like eBay, where they make commission off every product sold. It's big business. I know some seller that turnover half a million a year on Amazon. Amazon's motivation is to get as many sellers selling their products on Amazon and make as much commission as possible. But in doing this they have unfortunately forgotten how to protect their customers.
How Amazon could be a safer place to shop
Here are some ways that Amazon could make their site a safer place for their customers and prevent them from being ripped off:
- Ban all Sellers found selling fake items for life.
- Freeze all funds to rogue sellers.
- Refund all customers that have purchased known counterfeit products.
- Display all business sellers contact information and company details.
- Clearly display date of sellers registration.
- Clearly display if the product is from a private individual or business.
- Only businesses should be allowed to list more than 1 of any given product on Amazon.
- Only businesses should have products fulfilled by Amazon warehouse.
- Fakes stored in Amazon warehouses should be impounded or destroyed .
- Full ID checks and verification on all sellers - passport, utilities bill - anti money laundering
- Brand's should be allowed to appoint authorized resellers to sell their products on Amazon.
- New sellers funds should have a rolling reserve which can be used to refund customers when need.
Amazon's mission statement: Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online. (Reference).
Fake ION Factory Predator Zero cases currently on Amazon.co.uk
Here are some counterfeit ION Factory Predator Zero cases listed on Amazon at the moment. BTW, we have told Amazon about these cases. We have purchased cases from all the sellers listed below. Each case we received was a counterfeit ION Factory Predator Zero iPhone case. All the fake cases came in fake ION Factory packaging too.
How to spot a fake ION Factory Preditor Zero Case
- The real case has genuine brown leather lining in the back of the case and a cut out where an ION logo has been embossed into the case. The fake cases have are black fake leather lining in the back of the case and no logo or cut out.
- The real case is made from clear poly-carbonate plastic which is much thinner, stiffer and ligher than the fake cases. It looks silver as you can see through the case and see the base coat of paint. The fake case is made from cheap black plastic and is not see through.
- The real case has been finished with a high quality Iridium coated painting process. The fake cases has a very bad paint job that comes off very quickly. On one of the case we received, the paint was already coming off before it was taken out the box.
- The real case leather lining has "StealthPredator ionise plasma paint crafted with real carbon fiber composite, original designed by ion-factory 2010" print in gold.
- The real case leather lining has and ION logo and the words "StealthPredator ionise plasma paint crafted with real carbon fiber composite, original designed by ion-factory 2010" print in white
- The fake cases come in the same packaging as the real cases. However the print quality is poor and not as detailed as the real cases
If you feel your Preditor Zero Case is fake we suggest you report the sellers to the site you purchased it from and get a refund.
About ION Factory
ION Factory are a premium brand of smart phone, lap top and tablet cases. They design cases that are unique, high quality and much sort after. One of their cases was recently used in the latest Mission Impossible film. www.ion-factory.com
Selling on Amazon
How to sell on Amazon - How it works - http://services.amazon.co.uk/services/sell-on-amazon/how-it-works/
Fulfilment by Amazon - How it works - http://services.amazon.co.uk/services/fulfilment-by-amazon/features-benefits/
Consumer Support & Fraud Protection
- Action Fraud - Report and Support
- The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002
- Directgov - Protect yourself against scams
- Directgov - Counterfeit goods
- Directgov - Get advice about a problem with goods or services
- Which Magazine - Counterfeit goods: your rights explained.
- Which Magazine - Sale of goods act.
- Brand i - working together with Brand and Trading Standards - report a site
- Trading Standards
- Brand Enforcement - legal consultancy in intellectual property rights (IPR)
P.S. We have spotted a lot of other fake branded products currently on Amazon and we would be happy to share this information if anyone is interested. The place is riddled with it. We can even do some more secret shopping.