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

Station House looking for artists for 2019 group show Uncover It

All pieces for this multimedia exhibit are to be based on the cover art for albums

Boaters in B.C. asked to help stop spread of invasive species

Clean Drain Dry signage is displayed at boat launches across the province

RANCH MUSINGS: Soil Biological tools to build resilience and food security

Sometimes we get world-class speakers to present to the students at Thompson Rivers University

BREAKING: Hotel roof jumper in custody following a standoff with RCMP

A man apparently suffering from drug withdrawal was prevented from jumping off Slumber Lodge Hotel

VIDEO: Jack Glatzer treats LCSS students with intimate recital

This 80-year-old young violinist continues to perform recitals worldwide

Kelowna RCMP interrogation video brings home reality in ‘visceral way’: former TRC chairman

Video of Mountie interrogating young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse under fire

Canadian killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on another child at a Surrey park

The child was later released into his parents’ custody as Surrey RCMP continue their investigation

Full-scale search underway for missing kayaker on Okanagan Lake

Kelowna Paddle Centre member Zygmunt Janiewicz, 71, failed to return from his ‘daily kayak’ on the lake

Most Read