Amazon is full of Chinese counterfeits and they're driving out legit goods


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I’m surprised boing boing is willing to post something critical of Amazon, what with all the schlocky “look at all this incredibly cheap stuff I can get on Amazon” ads posted to boing boing daily. Kudos!!


I’ve noticed this problem with Amazon recently. Now I have to really check what I’m ordering, and avoid the cheapest options. Otherwise I get cheap crap that doesn’t work.


I run into this constantly on Amazon these days. Just today I was shopping for a FurMinator comb for my shedding dog, and discovered that every single one on Amazon has reviews full of warnings to avoid them, as they’re half-priced Chinese counterfeits that seem to hurt dogs.

I know this makes me sound like one of those conspiracy nuts, but ever since my dog came within a few hours of critical liver failure from eating Chinese-made dog treats (recalled soon afterwards), I find it very hard to trust anything made in China across the board.


So you’re saying my copy of Large Brother by Cory Doctorlow isn’t legit?


Yes, its taken over a lot of categories. Try getting hold of a real Samsung battery. Pretty much all fakes. It’s the same with Apple accessories.

Ebay is the same, and there is a lot of VAT fraud going on with Chinese sellers with items located in fulfillment facilities in the UK.


Build a wall. It’ll be terrific.


I suspect that you jest; but my experience with Amazon has been that their search technology and general organization are embarassingly pitiful for such a large merchant. Books with ISBNs work fine; since they’ve been doing that the longest and some combination of librarians and the publishing industry have largely ironed things out. Oddball texts and music/movies work OK; but not great; and then everything else is just a hideous morass that feels like something that would have been acceptable back when Altavista was pretty hot stuff. Search and discovery are just so atrocious that nonsensical search results are pretty normal even when vendors aren’t keyword-stuffing their listings or just plain lying.

Even Fleabay, while similarly scammy, is much, much, more pleasant to search; and seems to have a better selection of the sort of non-counterfeit-but-just-plain-weird stuff that Pacific Rim fly-by-nights also sell


So which one of the Sharpies in the pictures is the fake one? Is it so obviously the one that says “made in China” or are real ones made there too?


Since I got Prime, my Amazon purchases have increased, but I usually make sure what I order is Prime Eligible, so then I don’t have to worry about knock offs.

I found out that at least one Boba Fett thing I got on ebay is probably at the leas a second - but it looks identical to the real thing as far as I can tell. I ordered 2 other things from China on ebay, but they never got here, so I put in for a refund…


As per the filename, it’s the one that says “Shoupie”. (It’s subtle.)


Unfortunately, this means doing that won’t fully protect you:

[quote]Furthermore, Amazon’s commingled inventory option bundles together
products from different sellers, meaning that a counterfeit jacket could
be sent to an Amazon facility by one merchant and actually sold by

Even if you order from a “reputable” 3d party seller, or Amazon itself, you may still get the counterfeit goods.

This is major. And it could kill Amazon. Already I’m less likely to buy brand name commodity goods from Amazon, such as memory cards, cell phone batteries and the like because I may be getting fakes that work poorly, but not so poorly that I’ll notice in time to return them to Amazon within the return window.

Just as I’d like to buy more from Amazon I’m now more likely to buy from suppliers with a more controlled supply chain like Costco, or even Best Buy, to reduce the chance of counterfeits.

Amazon needs to stop commingling inventory if they want my future business. Period.


I doubt in this case it is the same factory, but I know I have heard of some cases where yes - the factory freaking just made the order requested, then made more stuff and sold it under a different name - same item.

What is crazy is getting counterfeit stuff shut down. It can be a process. One of the most popular polymer magazine makers for the AR-15 is a company called Mag-Pul. They had fakes show up recently, but they had it shut down in China. I haven’t gotten the full story on how they managed that, but they knew some people I guess.


Doh. Damn Cursive writing. My local dollar store sells “Skerple” markers so that I the fake I’m used to looking for.


Amazon has been working hard to cut out the middle man, but that obviously has downsides. Curation anyone? I’ve been pretty happy, but I’ve also been pretty cautious in what I order. When I was a kid, we lived in cheap knock offs and seconds bought at reputable job lot operations in lower Manhattan. All of our clothes were “irregular”. A high school friend of mine’s father ran a garment factory in Chinatown, so he knew irregulars even better than I did. Luckily it was the 60s, so sartorial splendor wasn’t a big thing for high school kids back then.

For more on Amazon getting rid of the middle men:


Yep. Bought an ‘official’ backplate for my Lumia and received a knock-off whose buttons were so off-spec I had to transplant the ones from my old OEM case.


Ultimately, this hurts Amazon’s credibility and Boing Boing’s (as an Amazon Affiliate) in a way that will hurt their bottom line if not addressed.


These sellers are also sending out a lot of free products for review, which then gets them priority listing. Amazon is flooded with “I was given a free product for an impartial review” reviewers, whose reviews are rarely impartial. If they are negative, no more free stuff. And they get a lot of free stuff by being on the right mailing lists.

The more reputable companies don’t flood the reviews with free samples and then get knocked down in Amazon listings.

There is an increasing number of product categories that have lost all review credibility.

Amazon still has top notch customer service but that doesn’t count for much if it becomes too much of a bother to try to wade through the listings and buy a product elsewhere.


If they start shipping counterfeits through the FBA program does this open them up to litigation from the holders of the legitimate IP/copyright?


I do hate how cheap “fashion” clothing from China is getting impossible to filter out on this, Etsy, EBay etc.