Caution: Check Amazon Twice

Last night, I searched for a specific item on Amazon. There were several sellers for the item, and the listing with the lowest price was at the top. I was about to purchase the one with the lowest price when I noticed that it was not being shipped from the manufacturer or from a highly rated seller; both the “ships from” and the “sold by” transaction information were all in Chinese characters. For this particular item, that didn’t make sense.

Upon deeper examination, I found that this seller had hijacked the listing and was saying that they had the exact item I wanted to purchase in stock. I won’t reveal the item I was looking for, but I will tell you it comes from one specific manufacturer and they only distribute directly or through Amazon.

Why does this matter? I contacted the manufacturer via email and learned that the listing was indeed hijacked and that the seller could not possibly ship the real item. As it turns out, this unauthorized seller had hijacked hundreds of listings and undercut prices on hundreds of items to get their false listings to the top of Amazon’s search results. I learned that this problem is rampant, especially this time of year, and that Amazon will not remove the “fake” listings unless the seller of the item has a registered trademark that has been filed with Amazon.

This morning, I did some additional searching for the same item. I found a company in India that says they also have the item. The catch here is slightly different; they manufacture a competitive product, and the product they are selling is guaranteed to be counterfeit. (I will confirm that it is counterfeit when it arrives, but there is no way it can be the actual product; again, it is only sold by the real manufacturer directly or through Amazon.)

I just got off the phone with a representative from Amazon who confirmed that Amazon will not take down the counterfeiter because the original seller only has a “common use” trademark (which Amazon no longer honors). Amazon will only honor a registered trademark (which is not how the trademark law works, but Amazon doesn’t care).

Importantly, these were not different listings; they were the exact same product numbers. That’s why you must check your Amazon listings twice. Look at both the “ships from” and the “sold by” fields before you make your purchase to ensure you are buying directly from Amazon or from an authorized dealer. Otherwise, who knows what you will get when your banana box arrives.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, co-founder of Metacademy, and the CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and CNBC and writes a popular daily business blog. He’s the Co-Host of the award-winning podcast Techstream with Shelly Palmer & Seth Everett and his latest book, Blockchain - Cryptocurrency, NFTs & Smart Contracts: An executive guide to the world of decentralized finance, is an Amazon #1 Bestseller. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.

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