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My PSA to You About Buying Products on Amazon

AS AN AMAZON ASSOCIATE I EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES

Amazon has a big problem and it is counterfeit and fraud through third party sellers. My recent experience will shed light on this dark market and how you can avoid mishaps like me.

I never thought I’d actually have to write a post like this.

I’ve been a loyal Amazon customer for years. Like, since at least 2009.

That’s over 10 years! Ew. 10 years, haha

Since then, a lot on Amazon has changed.

I mean, they literally offer any and everything now (good and bad) and you can now get groceries delivered to you.

And they’re partnered with Whole Foods and there’s just SOOO many pluses to Amazon (convenience being number one) that it’s weird that I’m even writing this post.

As with all thing good, there is always a flipside — the bad.

The bad thing about Amazon is its lack of accountability and vetting of third party sellers.

I mean, I KNOW Amazon is a huge company and they probably get 4082348638 million new third party sellers open up shop every day and it’s hard to police stuff but I feel there definitely needs to be more accountability.

At least they aren’t like Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest where there is no customer support.

Amazon does generally have great customer support (although I do doubt it sometimes when you give them feedback; it’s like talking to a wall and the feedback going into a dark hole and nothing changes) and they do try to resolve things swiftly.

So why am I even writing this post today?

Well, I recently got duped on Amazon and it made me realize how easy it is for that to happen.

And the dupe, to me, was scary. Because it was a personal hygiene product.

Before you jump all over me for lack of research: let me back up.

I never buy skincare, hair care, or beauty products on Amazon

I used to but not anymore.

Why?

My hair stylist told me many years ago that mostly all third party sellers on Amazon that sell salon products (like products that you can typically only buy at licensed salons or Ulta, etc.) are on the grey/black market.

It means they buy these products, let it sit in a warehouse/at home/wherever, until the barcode expires and then they re-sell it online (Amazon) for a lower price.

They wait for the barcode to expire so they can’t be tracked and they sell it for a lower price because like you and me, we love a great deal. “Omg, it’s so much cheaper on Amazon!”

When the barcode expires, the product is likely expired. Meaning, you’d be putting expired lotion on your face, or expired shampoo in your hair, or putting on that sheet mask that is expired.

If you buy vitamins on Amazon, I would reconsider immediately.

YES. THIS IS REAL.

I exclusively (now) buy all my skincare, hair care, and beauty products at Sephora, Nordstrom, Ulta, Dermstore, or certified retailers.

You can see in my Shop that I don’t link to anything on Amazon for skincare, hair care, or beauty.

So how did you get duped?

Okay, so I’m about to talk about a feminine hygiene product so if you get offended with talks about menstrual cycles, you may just want to skip this altogether.

I have been using a Diva Cup for several years.

I love it. It’s the best thing that has happened to my periods.

I bought my very first Diva Cup five years ago.

They typically can last up to 10 years but I was feeling that I needed a new one. It’s just that feeling where “you know.” 

And if you use a menstrual cup, you know what I’m talking about with “that feeling.”

I hopped on Amazon, quickly searched, “Diva Cup” and the first one that popped up had a little “Amazon’s Choice” banner by it. I looked at the price. $15.99. Score. That is more than 50% off retail price. Added it to my cart and done.

BEFORE SOMEONE JUMPS DOWN MY THROAT: my first Diva Cup was bought on Amazon and it was fine. I realize these days have probably changed and I realized I probably should have bought it at Target or a physical retail store, but again, if you have bought something with no issues in the past, you would probably have done the same thing as me.

Amazon has a big problem and it is counterfeit and fraud through third party sellers. My recent experience will shed light on this dark market and how you can avoid mishaps like me.

When it arrived, I pulled the box out of the Amazon package and immediately I saw the misspelling of “menstrual.”

At first I was like…would Diva Cup actually really spell that wrong? Like could that get past QA?

Then I started examining the rest of the box.

It was just OFF.

Amazon has a big problem and it is counterfeit and fraud through third party sellers. My recent experience will shed light on this dark market and how you can avoid mishaps like me.

Like, punctuation, grammar, capitalization, SPELLING. “sports and mort…” (supposed to be sports and more)

The SUBTLE differences are telling.

Amazon has a big problem and it is counterfeit and fraud through third party sellers. My recent experience will shed light on this dark market and how you can avoid mishaps like me.

Now, I feel if I didn’t have a keen eye for this stuff (I’m a creative/designer so I notice VERY little details that most people would not ever pick up on), I wouldn’t have noticed anything.

Heck, if MENSTRUAL was spelled correctly, I probably would not have checked the rest of the box. Which, thinking about it, is pretty scary because I would’ve been using something counterfeit and who the hell knows what kind of material it was and where it came from. Ew, getting a little skeeved out thinking about this.

The fact that the very name of what the product was was spelled wrong; it was a huge red flag.

What’s your problem?

My problem is many things.

Amazon has a big problem and it is counterfeit and fraud through third party sellers. My recent experience will shed light on this dark market and how you can avoid mishaps like me.

  1. The fact that Amazon had an “Amazon’s Choice” banner on it. I hovered over that banner and it says they deem it an Amazon’s Choice because of the great price and high reviews. I was told by a reader who’s husband works at Amazon that this is algorithm based but how terrible is that?!
    • Um, it was a great price because it was COUNTERFEIT AND FAKE.
    • High reviews because it was sold UNDER the Diva Cup brand.
  2. When I contacted Amazon about this, I learned this was non-returnable (UNDERSTANDABLE, lol) but they refunded me right away. I told them it was counterfeit and fake. They were like, ‘oh okay, here’s a refund.’
  3. Do you really think they’re going to let someone high up at Amazon know about this? Do you really think they’re going to close this reseller? Probably not.
  4. Comments/positive reviews are generally all fake. I know Amazon has had a crackdown on fake comments and you have to be a “verified purchase” to leave one but these scammers have a way around it. You literally can’t trust anything anymore on there.

My problem is that there is no accountability for this. This reseller is just going to get away with this; just like MANY third party resellers on Amazon.

What I could of done differently and how YOU can avoid this mishap

Because I have bought a Diva Cup before on Amazon, I didn’t think anything of it to dig further and do more research.

Usually, when I see “Amazon’s Choice,” I think it’s sold from Amazon.com and not a third party reseller.

I should’ve saw that it was sold by a third party seller and fulfilled by Amazon.

Had I saw this, I probably would not have bought it.

Usually, when I see that something is a third party seller and fulfilled by Amazon, I don’t buy it.

I typically only buy sold and fulfilled by Amazon products.

Amazon has a big problem and it is counterfeit and fraud through third party sellers. My recent experience will shed light on this dark market and how you can avoid mishaps like me.

Amazon usually shows you the cheapest price but if you really want to know where your product is coming from and ensure you get it from Amazon and not a third party seller…

Underneath the price box, there’s a box that says “Other Sellers on Amazon.” It will tell you how many new and used ones there are. You can click on the number. It’s kind of hard to see because they don’t put an underline so you don’t think it’s a link.

Usually it says: Used & new (2) from $XX.XX or 11 new

Sometimes, if you don’t see that box, there is similar language after the description of the product.

Amazon has a big problem and it is counterfeit and fraud through third party sellers. My recent experience will shed light on this dark market and how you can avoid mishaps like me.

Look in the SELLER INFORMATION column and then look for Amazon.com.

Typically, the ones that say “Fulfillment by Amazon” is okay/real but you should check the seller’s reviews.

I only buy stuff that is Fulfillment by Amazon with high reviews or if Amazon is the direct seller.

Of course, this time, I made a mistake because I had bought my original one with no issue and didn’t think to focus on this further.

Lesson learned! Don’t be rash with purchases on Amazon.

Amazon called me

Would they have called any other customer if they didn’t have a social following or blog? Not sure but I received three phone calls in a row on Friday afternoon from AMAZON COM.

I didn’t pick up because I wasn’t prepared to talk to whomever it was on the other line.

I then received an email from a Sr. Manager in Product Management that said he wanted to talk to me.

I reached out to my lawyer to make sure it was okay and she wouldn’t need to be on the call.

Part of me didn’t want to hop on the call because I knew it was going to be one of those calls that tells me how they take this stuff very seriously, blah blah

The other part of me wanted to hop on the call to advocate for others who don’t have the opportunity to.

The Amazon employee called me later that evening and we talked for less than 10 minutes.

I let him know what I thought about all this and how I feel like it’s such a bandaid when customer service gets a report of counterfeit.

He walked me through the backend process and how they take things seriously and have strict procedures and take action immediately after the report.

I also told him that I thought it’s ridiculous that third party sellers can just open an account.

He said that is was not true. “It’s not a click of a mouse”. They need to submit business licenses, identification, and a whole slew of paperwork beforehand.

Funny because a reader of mine messaged me and told me their friend easily opened an account to sell something.

Anyway, the call wasn’t any different than what I knew was going to happen.

They have a real problem and I don’t think they know how to stop it.

They’re too big now and they’re just the modern eBay.

Amazon has multiple lawsuits against them over this very issue

This article is VERY TELLING. Give it a read. There’s so many things in that article that make me angry.

Of course, the problem is not limited to Amazon. E-commerce sites like eBay, Newegg, and Walmart.com have also been accused of selling counterfeits. (All say they have strict procedures to remove offending products from their websites, and that they vociferously fight against counterfeits.)

When I hopped on the phone with the Sr. Manager at Amazon, I said that Amazon has zero accountability for counterfeit products and he told me the EXACT same thing that the article said. That they have “strict procedures” and that they “fight against counterfeits.”

Courts have yet to find Amazon liable for selling counterfeit products on its site, because the company has been able to argue that it is a platform for sellers, rather than a seller itself. 

I think this is total BS because on products (like the one I bought) that are sold by a third party seller then fulfilled by Amazon, isn’t that technically an Amazon liability because the product is at their warehouse and they’re the ones that have it in hand to finish the final transaction. They could check these things at the warehouse so I still think Amazon should 100% be liable because the order is being fulfilled by them.

Here’s a more recent article from Deborah Copaken’s disastrous Canada Goose purchase

Of course, Amazon’s response is the same I got from my phone call: 

In a statement, Amazon said it has many processes in place to combat counterfeit products, including machine learning, automated systems, dedicated teams of software engineers, research scientists, program managers, and investigators. According to the company, more than 99 percent of Amazon pages that customers visit have not received notices of potential infringement.

In conclusion

Amazon needs to be accountable for all third party sellers.

Amazon needs to care about fraud reports.

Amazon needs to vet third party sellers.

Amazon has to do better. We need to be the ones to hold them accountable.

We all need to be diligent and do our research — yes, for something as menial as shopping on Amazon.

I may be old school but I kind of do miss shopping in stores. You just sometimes never know what you’re getting buying online. But I can’t quit its convenience haha

I don’t think anything will change anytime soon but if more and more people stop shopping on Amazon and hit them where it hurts (their wallets), then they might take notice.

I’m not saying to stop shopping on Amazon — I certainly won’t BUT I have heard from SO MANY OF YOU that you have taken a step back from shopping on Amazon because of all the counterfeit and fraud. So many of you have sent me messages of frustration that you have had similar experiences.

To me, that makes me think…if more of us take a step back, if more of us start to be louder about this issue…they may take notice.

Share your experience

I heard from MANY of you on Instagram but I’m sure there are more folks out there; could you please share your experience below so we have a running list of issues?

I’m trying to get word out about this post and would love people’s experiences below to show I am certainly not the only one with this experience.

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