As soon as the announcement of any ‘Online Mega Sale’ starts flashing on our computer screen, sounds of two magic words like ‘discounts’ and ‘deals’ starts ringing in our ears. We start scratching our palm for grabbing those money saving coupons and our shopaholic minds works on every strategy that would enable us to buy everything and save enormously. But a new ‘stop and analyze’ board has emerged in front of our online shopping race. This menace is called ‘counterfeit products’ aka ‘fake products’ aka ‘knock offs’, which is infiltrating our ongoing e commerce industry rapidly.
Is Online Shopping Sites Paving The Way For Counterfeit Market?
In a recent news report submitted by DNA, top executives of International brands like Gucci, Mont Blanc and Lacoste have claimed that their brand products that are sold online at lower prices may be ‘counterfeit’ items.Such replica items, have started to become a major headache for retailers and consumers. With the gaining popularity of online shopping within the masses, fake goods market has also got a push due to anonymity feature it offers along with the unlimited discount greed and the craze for brands.
Where To Point The Finger?
When it comes to fake products, who is to be blamed? Should we point fingers at the shopping site owners? But no renowned brand would like to get associated with any Knock offs. And with stiff competition tightening the ecommerce space, no one would like to lose their consumer loyalty.
The real problem dwells in the screening of such shady suppliers and dealers. Big market players like Amazon, Snapdeal or Flipkart have stringent policies in terms of selling of original merchandise. But in this overcrowded market place where there are multiple sellers, fake products seem to find their way in through the back door or loopholes.
Recognize Fake Merchandise Online
- Research Business Reputations – The best way to play safe is to directly purchase from reputable businesses. Check about the retailer’s information on industry’s professional association. This will tell you about any complaints of the retailer products in the past. You can also read reviews and search about the company online.
- Pictures Don’t Do Justice - If you come across a seller who is selling a product that has very less images, then get alert, you are dealing with an illegitimate person. Anyone who is selling authentic product, understands the value of originality and hence won’t hide away from any details.
- Beware Of The Adjectives – Thoroughly examine the entire fine print. Many retailers lure the consumers by using superlatives or powerful adjective like ‘genuine’, ‘authentic’ and many more to give a fake description of the product. Some capture the buyers by using words that they are likely to search like ‘Gucci’ or ‘Caprese’ etc. Hence read the entire description properly to know if the merchandise isn’t an exact replica.
- Always Have The Return Option - Try to have a safe option of returning the product if not satisfied. Make sure the seller is offering the return policy that helps the consumer in fake product cases. This helps in cases where if the seller doesn’t maintain the originality of the protect, the consumer can protect itself with Buyer Protection Program.
The Dangerous Face Of Fake Products
Generally not all replica products will kill you, but fakes in other important categories can pose some serious threat to the consumer’s safety.
- Electronics - A counterfeit electronic appliance contains low quality components. Hence such electronic items like phone, laptops etc; that have bad wiring and inferior internal system have the risk of overheating which might later turn to blasting of the appliance.
- Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics – Many pharmaceutical medicines are manufactured in unhealthy environment resulting in several side effects of such products. Instead of providing benefit they give rise to serious rash allergies and respiratory problems.
- Sporting equipment – Faulty and malfunctioning sports equipments can cause severe injuries to the player.
Reasons Why Fakes Destroy Value
We all should co-operate and actively participate in the eradication of counterfeit items from the online as well as offline market, due to following reasons.
- The fake goods are sold at vast profits and hence this results in fat incomes to the counterfeiters.
- Counterfeiters items are not even remotely close to the originals. they just give a casual glimpse of the branded product and will ultimately fall into pieces.
- They make an irreparable damage to our latent value and trust
- Such selling of fake items not only destroys big businesses but also breaches a consumer’s loyalty.
How To Verify The Authenticity Of The Branded Product
- On various online shopping sites like Amazon and Flipkart, the branded product goes through numerous firm quality check points at each distribution step, which provides the customer with a relief of buying 100% genuine product. The fact that some sellers and brands have been delisted from the company’s website on account of not complying with their quality policies, shows their determination and seriousness to protect their valued customers.
- Amazon has started 100% Buyer Protection Guarantee service, where the company is responsible for the timely delivery and the condition of the item that a consumer purchases. Another one is ‘f- advantage’, through this batch Flipkart has taken the responsibility to check the quality and shipment of the products by themselves. Such assurance mark should be checked on the product page before making any purchase.
- With every branded product comes a serial number or a barcode, which gives it a unique identity mark. This enables a consumer in checking whether the product was manufactured in company factory or not. Counterfeit products generally don’t have this number or might have invalid number printed on it.
- Look for company printed model and also for the distinct number on the backside. Some popular brands provide online verification of their products. This gives an information regarding their production info, warranty application and also where was it intend to sell. Match all these details to save yourself from fake brand products.
What To Do If You Have Been Duped
- Try to approach the retailer first regarding the fake product.
- If nothing happens from there, then make an online complaint to Consumer Product Safety Commission or to Better Business Bureau.
- If bought a replica product from overseas then lodge the complaint on the international reporting site for online scams i.e. econsumer.gov.
Online shopping too has its plus and down side just like a coin. But for consumers, the amazing deals, offers and discounts that they can avail on online portals is very efficient. Adding to that, the hassle free delivery system also gets us hooked to every shopping click. But it’s a wise man’s move to keep his/her eyes open next time you are bargain hunting.