Amazon wrestling with counterfeit products

Amazon seeks to to crack down on counterfeits

The Carhartt hoodie that Laura Serghe bought two years ago looked phoney. And then, what was supposed to be an Eastpak backpack, arrived recently with messy stitching and a label inside that peeled off easily.

Both were bought from one place: Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, whose rapid growth, particularly among third-party sellers, has led to a counterfeit problem.

“I’m not going to buy from Amazon anymore,” says Serghe, a freelance photographer in London who unwittingly bought what she believes were fakes. “I’ve had enough.”

Amazon has wrestled with counterfeit products on its site for years. But the problem seems to have gotten worse, with Amazon acknowledging for the first time in its annual report in February that fake goods could hurt its business and reputation. Now it’s trying to crack down: On Thursday, it announced a number of tools that it says will help reduce the amount of fakes on its site.

Counterfeits are a costly problem for the company since Amazon typically refunds shoppers who believe they were duped. Knock-offs could also cause shoppers like Serghe to lose their trust.

Looking back, Serghe says the prices of the items she bought were suspiciously low. The backpack, for example, was about 60 per cent cheaper than authentic Eastpak backpacks she has previously bought.

“Now I’m questioning everything,” she says.

READ MORE: A very merry Christmas at Best Buy with sales booming

Counterfeiters usually get their products on Amazon through its growing third-party marketplace, where sellers can list their products directly on the site. It’s an important part of Amazon’s business since it allows Amazon to offer millions more products on its site. More than half of all products sold on Amazon last year came from third-party sellers.

The new tools Amazon announced Thursday include a way for brands to remove fake items from the site themselves, rather than reporting them to Amazon and then waiting for the company to do something. It is also using machine learning to automatically scan listings to remove suspected counterfeits and has created unique serial codes that can be placed on products during the manufacturing process, which can then be monitored by Amazon on its site.

Amazon says one of the brands using the tools is handbag and luggage seller Vera Bradley, which says it wants to make sure its customers get authentic Vera Bradley items from Amazon.

For now, the tools are invite-only, but the company says it will work to add more brands quickly.

“This would force other competitors of Amazon to also step up their game,” said Sridhar Tayur, a professor of operations management at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.

READ MORE: Unifor’s actions against GM were unlawful, board rules

Counterfeits are a problem on other sites, too. Last year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office bought 47 items from Amazon, eBay, Walmart.com and other online stores that have a third-party marketplace. Of those items, 20 were counterfeit, including makeup, phone chargers and travel mugs.

Joseph Pisani, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

19 Wing Comox welcomes new wing commander

Col. Dany Poitras assumed command of 19 Wing Comox

Pacific Salmon Foundation contributes $42,000 to Comox Valley wild salmon restoration projects

The Pacific Salmon Foundation announced it is contributing more than $42,000 to… Continue reading

Mount Washington zip line nearing completion

Once finished, the line will be the longest and steepest zip line on Vancouver Island

PHOTOS: Vancouver Island MusicFest revisited

This year’s lineup included Colin James, Tom Cochrane and lots more

Fashion Fridays: 5 casual summer dress styles

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Injured fawn at B.C. vet will be euthanized Friday night unless claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer is currently being treated at West Kelowna’s Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Port Hardy RCMP cleared in arrest that left man with broken ribs, punctured lung: IIO

The IIO noted the matter will not be referred to crown counsel for consideration of charges.

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

Most Read