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eBay Describes the Scale of Its Counterfeit Goods Problem

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the how-to-sell-a-box-of-rocks dept.

The Almighty Buck 124

Ian Lamont writes "As the Tiffany vs. eBay lawsuit winds its way through a federal appeals court, eBay has trotted out some numbers that show how many sellers attempt to sell fake goods on the auction site. Millions of auctions were delisted last year, and tens of thousands of accounts were suspended after reports were made to eBay's Verified Rights Owner program, which lets trademark owners notify eBay of fake goods being sold on the site. eBay says 100% of reported listings were removed from the site last year, most within 12 hours, and the company uses sellers' background information to make sure that they don't create new accounts to sell delisted items. Tiffany brought the suit against eBay in 2004, alleging that eBay was turning a blind eye to counterfeit luxury goods and demanding that eBay police its listings for bogus goods. Tiffany lost the case last July and will shortly present its arguments to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York. A similar case in France cost eBay $61 million."

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124 comments

Sure... (5, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276379)

...but how many of those items were NOT counterfeits, but merely real items that the trademark owner wants to illegitimately prevent from being legitimately resold? Like that GAP promotional CD a while back.

Re:Sure... (5, Insightful)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276409)

Some counterfeit products stem from overruns. I.e. Lee commissions an order for 500 pairs of jeans from a factory, the factory gets sent 600 logos and makes 600 pairs of jeans. They get paid for the original 500 count jean order and then turn around and sell the real deal (same factory, same material and techniques, same quality, real logo) to the black market. Except the additional 100 pairs are counterfeit (Legally so).

Sounds like a perfectly reasonable excuse to prevent a legit buyer of a pair of the original 500 jeans from reselling their product... Lets lawyer up!

Re:Sure... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276575)

The way I see it, if the manufacturers cares about counterfeit goods, they can give them serial numbers. If they don't bother to do that, any counterfeiting is as much their fault as anybody else's. Or, they could quit being cheap bastards and actually pay the manufacturing plant for the overages. Either way.

Re:Sure... (2, Funny)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276585)

Oh, and apologies for the subject-verb agreement problem in the first sentence. I suppose if I really cared about typos, I'd quit rewriting sentences eight times before I post them.

Re:Sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276707)

Shoot. With 600 pairs of jeans you could really layer up!

Re:Sure... (1)

Shimmer (3036) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276725)

Why would Lee send the factory 600 logos when they only want 500 jeans made?

Re:Sure... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276807)

Because they know that x of the labels or jeans that the labels are sewn to are going to be imperfect, and it's more cost effective to ship an extra percentage point of raw materials the first time, than have to deal with shipping another small batch if the shop couldn't meet their quota.

The figures aren't going to be as exaggerated as in GP (100 spare per 500), but if a factory makes 10,000 pairs of jeans, it's natural that there will be spare stuff laying around.

Re:Sure... (2, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277107)

Because they know that x of the labels or jeans that the labels are sewn to are going to be imperfect, and it's more cost effective to ship an extra percentage point of raw materials the first time, than have to deal with shipping another small batch if the shop couldn't meet their quota.

In that case, Lee should ask and pay for 600 items, and accept up to 100 bad ones. They'll get their 500 pairs of jeans, and there won't be any logos to counterfeit.

Re:Sure... (3, Informative)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277451)

Actually, I know that Levis does this, and the 'bad' ones are sold in outlet stores for about half the price of regular jeans. You can go in to those outlet stores and if you can spot the flaw, then you've got great eyes. I usually can't. Anytime someone travels to the US, I ask them to pick me up a pair.

Re:Sure... (1)

cheesee (97693) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276815)

Because not every label that is used will go onto a pair of jeans that meets requirements for sale.

Some will be damaged, have defects or be otherwise rendered unusable.

Re:Sure... (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277285)

Because the factory will make more jeans in the future. If you look into a restaurant kitchen you will find they have varying quantities of all their supply's so that they would never run out of everything at the exact same time (if they stopped reordering).

Ok car analogy, it's just not the same without a car involved. When you refuel your car do you put in just enough for the intended journey?

Re:Sure... (3, Interesting)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276727)

Sounds like a perfectly reasonable excuse to prevent a legit buyer of a pair of the original 500 jeans from reselling their product... Lets lawyer up!

I understand your point, and would like to propose a little thought experiment.

Suppose I buy a pair of those jeans from "Company X," without any way of knowing whether the scenario you described has transpired or not (I'll leave it to other posters to argue the finer points of your post). I then turn around and sell the jeans on eBay. Am I then complicit in any wrongdoing, assuming I can prove that I paid good currency for the product in the first place?

Re:Sure... (4, Insightful)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277231)

It's known as the 3rd shift, and it's not 100 of 500, it's more like 1/3 (absolute minimum if you have something made in China) to 2/3 of all production.

Perfectly legal (there) and perfectly "real" goods. Welcome to China.

Re:Sure... (5, Insightful)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276423)

Quite possibly. There's no good solution, and there are vested interests on both sides. eBay makes a cut of every sale, so they want as many as they can, no matter what the legitimacy of the items being sold. Tiffany makes nothing from second hand sales, so they'd love to destroy any market for them. Counterfeiting probably is more damaging to Tiffany than a legitimate resale market, but if they weren't angling to stop all 'unauthorised' sales of their products I doubt they'd be bringing a lawsuit where the only real solution is to ban any Tiffany products from eBay.

eBay can very easily be written off as assholes for a multitude of valid reasons, but for once I think we've got a situation where they can't be blamed. Short of manually approving every single auction there's not much more they can do to keep out the obvious fakes. Now add to that the ones that can't be spotted a mile off by anyone with a bit of experience and it's like asking them to send a team of experts to your house and confirm that the item you just listed is indeed genuine. Good luck with that.

Re:Sure... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276683)

I was selling a used Kaplan book,

This VERO program ... they canceled my auction, emailed all the bidders and told them i was a criminal selling counterfeit stuff?

Ebay said there was nothing they could do? (wtf it is their website???) Kaplan just did not want people selling used books.

Re:Sure... (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278081)

If they emailed the other bidders saying that you were a criminal then you probably have grounds for a libel suit. If they do this to a lot of people, you may be able to share legal costs. In a libel case, they are required to prove that their defamation (that you are a criminal) is true which, assuming you are not, is going to be difficult.

Re:Sure... (2, Interesting)

kylben (1008989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276889)

how many of those items were NOT counterfeits, but merely real items that the trademark owner wants to illegitimately prevent from being legitimately resold?

Lots and lots. EBay, as they say, removes 100% of reported listings.

A hall of shame from someone who likes to countersue... or is it just sue.... or... take these companies to court, and win: http://www.tabberone.com/Trademarks/HallOfShame/HallOfShame.shtml [tabberone.com]

Re:Sure... (5, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277237)

>>>how many of those items were NOT counterfeits, but merely real items that the trademark owner wants to illegitimately prevent from being legitimately resold?

That happened to me one time when I was trying to sell a store-bought DVD of a movie. Ebay told me who complained, and it was some lawfirm in California that is tasked by the Hollywood corporations to take-down ebay sales. I called and asked why they took down my auction, but they refused to say anything except that if I relist it, I'd be taken to court.

I ignored them and relisted the item anyway. The second time it sold, but it was still frustrating because the second auction did not go as high as the first auction. Stupid fucking lawyers. They shouldn't be able to randomly take down legitimate sales.

Re:Sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27277783)

[...] The second time it sold, but it was still frustrating because the second auction did not go as high as the first auction. Stupid fucking lawyers.

So they did us a great service by bringing down the price of an otherwise more expensive DVD!
I'm sure they only had the best intentions.

Re:Sure... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278089)

>>>So they did us a great service by bringing down the price of an otherwise more expensive DVD!

Ahhh shutup. I had a *photo* of my storebought movie on DVD. And near perfect feedback. Why they targeted me as "counterfeiter" makes no sense. IMHO they should be required to PROVE an item is fake before Ebay acts, and if they can't then the auction continues, rather than inflict financial damage on innocent persons.

I now sell a lot on my stuff on amazon, because even though a DVD or book may languish several weeks, the item eventually sells for a higher price than via ebay. And of course I don't like ebay's new anti-seller policies that allow scammers to neg the seller but the seller can't neg the scammer.

Re:Sure... (3, Insightful)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277277)

eBay doesn't actually sell anything.

It's an abuse of the legal system to allow these companies to go after ebay for counterfeit goods. How about going after the people committing the offence?

Re:Sure... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278125)

That's the same logic that applies to Piratebay and other trackers, but it's easier to go after the central website than each person.

Re:Sure... (3, Insightful)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278417)

True, however laziness shouldn't be a legitimate excuse for doing things the wrong way.

Re:Sure... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278883)

Like that Scientology magic mind meter or whatever the hell that crazy thing is called? I recall that they claim copyright on any attempts to sell it and it gets delisted.

HAH!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276381)

Search for gibson and PRS guitars... The amount of counterfeits is insane, and there is no way to know if its real or not.
 
I know this is a small example, but its a very real example.

Re:HAH!!! (2, Interesting)

Rip Dick (1207150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276479)

There's no way to tell through the serial #'s? Personally, I would only use ebay to buy a beginner guitar. For higher end guitars like PRS or Gibson, I'd probably try Musiciansfriend.com. If you're gonna spend the money, why not spring a little more for a brand new guitar?

Re:HAH!!! (3, Insightful)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276735)

there is no way to know if its real or not.

If that's the case, sounds pretty good to me. I'm going to start doing my shopping on eBay. ;)

I don't consider myself much of a capitalist, but I find it interesting that a company can have a product that another company reproduces for less (at the same quality), but can't compete with them. Why is that? I know regulations help level the playing field, but in a cold way, the consumer wins if another company can create the same product for less. I think typically though, products like this are of inferior quality - maybe the product itself, support etc...

Re:HAH!!! (1)

Eivind Eklund (5161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278145)

there is no way to know if its real or not.

If that's the case, sounds pretty good to me. I'm going to start doing my shopping on eBay. ;) I don't consider myself much of a capitalist, but I find it interesting that a company can have a product that another company reproduces for less (at the same quality), but can't compete with them. Why is that?

If company (A) pays Xa to design a product, it costs Ya to produce a unit, and they sell Za units, they have to sell the units at an average cost of (Xa/Za)+Ya to break even. If company (B) copies the product of company A, they end up with a design cost of zero, they have to sell at a cost of Ya to break even. This is less than (Xa/Za)+Ya. (In practice, even copying leads to some design cost, but it is so much lower than the cost of the original design that the design cost of coping is effectively zero.)

I know regulations help level the playing field, but in a cold way, the consumer wins if another company can create the same product for less. I think typically though, products like this are of inferior quality - maybe the product itself, support etc...

Well, that often comes along with it, but in principle it's not necessary unless the original design cost is so low that it is close to the design cost of copying.

Eivind.

Re:HAH!!! (2, Interesting)

Znork (31774) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278747)

Of course, today it often works out like this: Company A pays Xa to market a trademark. Company A needs something to sell to recoup marketing costs, and know their campaign generate an average product purchase rate of Za. Company A buys generic goods from production company B for Ya. Company A sets price of product to (Xa/Za)+Ya.

Well, that often comes along with it, but in principle it's not necessary unless the original design cost is so low that it is close to the design cost of copying.

Amortized of the series we're talking about design cost is negligible, even if you actually do it inhouse; design isn't a very people-intensive area. Marketing, lobbying and channel control would be far more expensive.

I suspect trademarks are only slightly less damaging to the economy than patents and copyright, but at least their damage isn't infinite as far as to preventing others from distributing similar goods.

There are also reasonable ways to counter the worst of the damage; one could require goods to be designer, producer and product ID marked to be protected by trademarks, ie, if the trademark owner outsources design and production, then customers can buy the exact same unmarked good by buying no-name product ID referenced goods, basically bypassing the scam.

Re:HAH!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276939)

Search for gibson and PRS guitars... The amount of counterfeits is insane, and there is no way to know if its real or not. I know this is a small example, but its a very real example.

Errr... if you can't tell if they're real or not how do you know they're counterfeits?

Re:HAH!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27278083)

That's actually more of a PRS problem, in that they don't mark their guitars. I would avoid that kind of guitar completely, unless you know the price of it. There are a lot of other guitars you can tell what they are. What you can't tell on eBay is how the action on the guitar and the sound is. So if your going to pick up an hamer or an old peavey nitro, you are likely to have less trouble.

The sad thing that drove me away from eBay was not this. (Actually my family bought a lot of stuff from eBay) No. The Sad thing is when they required a fucking PAYPAL account. That was it for us. Nobody in my family is going to link their bank account or credit card to eBay's (not even a bank--PAYPAL) If you do, you should check yourself--you might not have a problem now, but just wait until you do. And you will eventually.

eBay can burn in hell. Fuck eBay. Fuck Paypal.
There are plenty of other places. (Sadly I must admit, the music selection was the best at eBay, but their PAYPAL only policy is too much.)

Now I go here. And again avoid paypal like the plague.
http://www.powersellersunite.com/auctionsitewatch.php [powersellersunite.com]

Unpleasant. (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276385)

If anything, Ebay is already too far on the side of "protecting" the various merchants who pretty much hate First Sale. The web abounds with tales of perfectly legitimate stuff being taken down, with approximately the same care shown in DMCA request cases.

Given that, I'd really hate to see what the situation would look like if Ebay's enemies win.

BSD - a litany of failure (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276405)

So why now? Why did *BSD fail? Once you get past the fact that *BSD is fragmented between a myriad of incompatible kernels, there is the historical record of failure and of failed operating systems. *BSD experienced moderate success about 15 years ago in academic circles. Since then it has been in steady decline. We all know *BSD keeps losing market share but why? Is it the problematic personalities of many of the key players? Or is it larger than their troubled personae?

The record is clear on one thing: no operating system has ever come back from the grave. Efforts to resuscitate *BSD are one step away from spiritualists wishing to communicate with the dead. As the situation grows more desperate for the adherents of this doomed OS, the sorrow takes hold. An unremitting gloom hangs like a death shroud over a once hopeful *BSD community. The hope is gone; a mournful nostalgia has settled in. Now is the end time for *BSD.

If anything, too responsive to VeRO (4, Interesting)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276411)

I used to work at an electronics retailer and we'd sell our returns on ebay(those that were functional, we had a lax return policy).

Despite being authorized distributers of the products we put on there, we had our accounts suspended several times by VeRO when one of the many third party watchdog services reported us erroneously. We usually had to track down somebody at the manufacturer and get them to fax "yes they can sell our stuff" to ebay.

And then a few weeks later, it'd happen again. Those watchdog services must get paid by # of items removed.

Re:If anything, too responsive to VeRO (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276579)

Actually, they probably aren't paid per item (too easy for them to game the system) but they are just overzealous by default because that is better for them over all. For one, they probably give the companies reports that say "We stopped X number of illegal sales this month!" The bigger the number, the happier the company. Also should someone from the company notice things that are not getting taken down, the company will get mad and say "What the hell are we paying you for?"

Only way that a company is likely to get mad about them being over zealous is if one of their major distributors gets mad for it happening. Problem is, that the major distributors aren't going to rely on eBay. They might use it, but their large volume will be elsewhere. Thus the company isn't likely to get complaints of sufficient level that they'll do anything about it.

Re:If anything, too responsive to VeRO (3, Interesting)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277013)

I just figured after we were on a name basis with some of them they would've reminded the watchdogs that there are legit distributers.

But you're right, the only time we ever saw a change was when we shipped a pallet(some good as new, some we would have written off) back to the manufacturer with 3 canceled ebay notices attached to the shipping papers.

Didn't have a problem with them again, but, as you say, we weren't big enough to do that to someone like Monster Cable(who is the great Satan anyway).

Everyday goods as well (4, Interesting)

adisakp (705706) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276413)

It's not just Tiffany or designer products. EBay is full of counterfeit stuff for everyday goods as well. 90% of the razor blades on EBay are fakes. If you buy Gillette Fusion refills there, you're likely to get something that looks nearly identical but will tear off half your face when you try to use them. I got ripped off for $70 -- and getting refunds through Paypal / EBay for counterfeit items is a joke when they want you to return the items with tracking to China where they'll just be used again to scam another consumer.

Re:Everyday goods as well (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276443)

You expected to get legitimate Gillette Fusion razor blades from a Chinese eBay seller?

Slashdot is missing a -1 Dumbass moderating option.

Re:Everyday goods as well (3, Interesting)

adisakp (705706) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277143)

I didn't know they were from China until after I received the item. There's no way to verify where an item is going to come from just by using EBay and Paypal until after you receive it. Furthermore, they were using an account (that was probably hacked) that had high 100% feedback.

Re:Everyday goods as well (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277245)

Best way to handle that:

If you've been scammed by an international person, file an "item not received" complaint since most foreign sellers don't track internationally (costs too much). Paypal will automatically return your money after 10 days. In fact you can get lots of free stuff by shopping from China or Nigeria or Cuba or... ooops I've said too much.

How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27277961)

E-bay always lists the item location.

Re:How? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278091)

And you think that's hard to fake? I've seen listings on eBay where the city and country don't even match up - no such city exists in the listed country - so providing a fake address is no doubt trivial.

Re:Everyday goods as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276483)

Who the hell buys razorblades on eBay? Honestly?

Re:Everyday goods as well (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276501)

There is a website [wordpress.com] with information on how to spot fake blades on FleaBay.

Re:Everyday goods as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276505)

The Viagra is good, though... right?

Please tell me that the Viagra is GOOD!

Re:Everyday goods as well (4, Funny)

lightversusdark (922292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276623)

If you want to save money, grow a beard.

Re:Everyday goods as well (2, Funny)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276937)

A beard, ala Richard Stallman, lends a certain air of distinguished elder geek experience in IT while at the same time conveying an almost mystical knowledge of things like GNUs, Linux, and ancient shell programming incantations. Of course, to properly accessorize and complete the look a pair of old addidas sneakers, well worn bell-bottomed jeans, and suspenders are required equipment.

Re:Everyday goods as well (3, Funny)

AJWM (19027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277039)

Or get an electric shaver. A little bit more up-front cost, but it should last a decade or two. I mean, really, blades? How quaint.

Re:Everyday goods as well (0, Offtopic)

adisakp (705706) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277177)

get an electric shaver

I've had a couple electrics including a $150 self-cleaning one. Even the $150 electric doesn't come close to a $2-3 Fusion blade for comfort or closeness. Plus the cost of the cleaning fluid refills ended up costing as much as new blade refills.

Re:Everyday goods as well (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278063)

I typically use the electric shaver for everyday use because it's fast, and then finish off with a blade if there's a special occasion (like a date or job interview).

Re:Everyday goods as well (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278183)

No, to save money, buy a double-edged (DEs) razor (you can find perfectly good, old handles by Merkur or Gillette on the fleamarket for $5, online on ebay used $10, new can cost much more). The normal straight ones are good but I prefer my slanted Merkur.

Then buy blades. 10 Personna blades are at some walmarts for ~$1.70. Some people swear by these Derby blades (100 for $20):
http://www.amazon.com/Derby-Extra-Stainless-Double-Blades/dp/B0013RZ2ZM [amazon.com]

They are too sharp for me personally, sometimes the razor you have dictates the type of blades go well with them (angle and all that), and your face sensitivity. Just like many cartridge based razors. However, once you find them, you are free of expensive cartridges forever.

I find the whole cartridge thing a scam anyway. They don't shave closer and one of the major downsides of cartridges is that the more razors on one, the less distance between them, the less growth you can have before the razor clogs up. DE clog up less and are much easier to flush out. Cartridge razor have their face, the benefit of a head that follows the skin and adjusts its own angle, so that shaving some body parts is easier, but generally doesn't apply to the face when you are watching what you are doing anyhow.

Gillette got away from DE because it was the open source of the razor world and the disposable blades were very easy to manufacture, a single metal strip, relative to the more elaborate metal and plastic contraptios today. No vendor lock-in. Not because of some magical benefit to the user.

Re:Everyday goods as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276635)

My second cousin sells chinese counterfeit fashion on ebay, so i'm getting a kick out of this. (less impressed with her tho...)

Re:Everyday goods as well (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276687)

I agree.

What about art? I buy originals of some of my favorite artists, and I've often seen fakes of their work. Worse yet, they are not even credited for it.

I usually notify the artist, of course. Sometimes, the artist themselves (or their manager) replies back with a thank you note (depending on if I am a customer who's bought their originals or their prints). But more often than not, I do not hear back, so I assume that the artists simply don't care.

Re:Everyday goods as well (0, Offtopic)

bitrex (859228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277111)

How long do the Fusion blades last you? I have a Gillette Fusion razor and a fairly heavy beard (I can grow a full beard in a week if I let it go) and wet shaving once a day the cartridges seriously last me about a month and a half before I notice a lower quality shave - if kept well cleaned. With an 8 pack costing about 20 bucks it seems trying to get them in bulk off Ebay is penny wise and pound foolish, unless there is some kind of razor blade shortage looming that we don't know about? That reminds me. My granpappy who lived through the Great Depression always told me that in tough economic times one should invest in personal hygiene companies like P&G, because regardless of what happens in other sectors of the economy, people will always need supplies to shave and wash themselves with - and if things get SO bad that shaving and washing are no longer profitable industries, then the stock market probably won't matter either!

Could care less about Tiffany (4, Interesting)

wshwe (687657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276429)

Too bad eBay doesn't put as much effort in to shutting down scammers of all kinds, not just those selling fake name brand goods.

Re:Could care less about Tiffany (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276457)

That would cost Meg Whitman money that she needs to be the next shitty governor of California.

At least with a bootleg item you get something... (4, Interesting)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276437)

Site policy has zero tolerance for sellers who list counterfeit items, and will also suspend any seller who lists a counterfeit item more than one time. Sharpe reports that...30,000 sellers [were] suspended.

One of the major reasons that eBay has so many fraudulent listings is that scam artists exploit a flaw in eBay's user database. And I'm not even talking about listening bootlegged or forged items. I'm talking about listing items that don't even exist.

The scam artists find eBay accounts and break into them, specifically accounts that have high feedback numbers (or transactions recorded) but have little activity in the last year. They basically dig through the user database for inactive accounts and then try to hijack them, taking over the account, and then changing the billing information before listing the fake items. Because the hijacked account already has positive feedback with it people are far more likely to trust the account and auction, not being critical enough to suspect they are being scammed for money or being sold knockoff items.

Another scam I've seen is where people purchase tons of electronics, like say they purchase dozens of video game consoles. They take pictures of the consoles to prove that they have them in hand. They then sell them to friends, family, or strangers for cash in person, while keeping the receipts for the original product. They then list the consoles on eBay and sell them to people taking the money from PayPal. But, because they've already sold the item off for cash, they tell the person who sent them money over PayPal that they will get a refund. They then call the cops, say that they have been robbed and someone stole several dozen expensive electronic components from them and then they recover whatever homeowners or rental insurance covers stolen property.

I purchase tons of expensive electronics on eBay. Multi-thousand dollar synthesizers, hardware video editing consoles, and vinyl record components. Some items seem to be half scams and half real and eBay doesn't do a damn thing to stop people from listing fake items. They rely on users to constantly scream at eBay to take the fake listings down. I have to persist often to get eBay to take down the endless fake auctions for Pioneer DJ components that are listed day after day and eBay still can't figure out a filter for this problem.

At the end of the day eBay is still great (minus the shipping charges).

Re:At least with a bootleg item you get something. (3, Insightful)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276485)

I'm possibly missing something blindingly obvious here, but what's the benefit of the eBay step in the insurance fraud scam? Just to make it look like they have a more legitimate reason for keeping 8 PS3s in their living room before they were 'robbed'?

Re:At least with a bootleg item you get something. (0, Redundant)

Faylone (880739) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277057)

whoops, posting to remove an accidental redundant mod.

Re:At least with a bootleg item you get something. (3, Insightful)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277161)

Let's say that the Nintendo Wii retails for $250. But you were going to sell them on eBay for $450 a piece and because of retail scarcity people bought them. Then you go through the scam I outlined above. When you make a claim with your insurance company, because people have used PayPal to transfer you $450, you can try to claim a loss of $450 instead of the loss of replacing a $250 machine.

Re:At least with a bootleg item you get something. (3, Interesting)

bitrex (859228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277129)

A common scam that I've fallen victim to on at least one occasion when buying synthesizers on Ebay is the "It must have broken during transit" scam - the seller knows that an item is nonfunctional but sells it at full price, and before it ships puts a little exterior damage on it to make it look like it was damaged in shipping when really the thing was a basket-case to begin with. The seller and Paypal then instruct you to bug UPS for insurance money, which you will never get because the package itself generally has no signs of damage. I had one synthesizer that was in "fully functional condition" arrive with two broken keys - sure, that MIGHT have happened in transit, but what about the burned traces in the power supply? I always give preference to sellers now who have gone to the effort to make YouTube videos of their gear to show that it is in good operating condition.

Re:At least with a bootleg item you get something. (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278041)

>>>The seller and Paypal then instruct you to bug UPS for insurance money

Bzzzz. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The seller might tell you to get insurance, but Paypal always gives the exact-same answer: "Return to seller." You can then provide the delivery confirmation/tracking number to paypal and they will refund all your money. Or you can provide it to your credit card, and they will do the same.

Also, "it got damaged during shipping" is NOT an excuse for a seller. The seller is responsible for ALL damage, whether he did it himself or the mailman did it, therefore the seller must refund your money. And if he doesn't paypal or your credit card will do it.

I once received a cracked LCD screen, and the seller tried to pulled the "I'm not responsible" and "go claim insurance" scam. I said "WRONG" and immediately returned the screen. The seller ended-up losing the sale, having to pay additional postage for delivery (since I deliberately mailed without sufficient stamps), and got a nasty negative.

>>>I had one synthesizer that was in "fully functional condition" arrive with two broken keys - sure, that MIGHT have happened in transit

Too bad, so sad. It's still the seller's responsibility to deliver the item advertised.

Re:At least with a bootleg item you get something. (2, Interesting)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277309)

They then list the consoles on eBay and sell them to people taking the money from PayPal. But, because they've already sold the item off for cash, they tell the person who sent them money over PayPal that they will get a refund. They then call the cops, say that they have been robbed and someone stole several dozen expensive electronic components from them and then they recover whatever homeowners or rental insurance covers stolen property.

Lately, whenever I've sold something on PayPal that's been more than $50, PayPal has held the money in escrow until either the buyer gives me positive feedback, the shipping company confirms the package was delivered, or 30 days goes by. It's happened to me at least 6 times in the last couple of months. It's not annoying, but it does cause a small delay in getting my money.

As for telling the police about the stolen goods and getting an insurance claim, I'd have to imagine someone can only try that once in their life. I'd like to think that the second time, the police might suspect something and the insurance company would laugh at you.

Re:At least with a bootleg item you get something. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27277877)

And of course, let's not forget the classic "Raffle".

MMO gold (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276481)

I see hundreds of MMO (ok, WoW) gold listings every day, and if ebay claims 100% vero compliance that probably accounts for a lion's share of their statistics. Blizzard aggressively has these taken down, I know because when I auctioned my account they had that taken down even though I was including the game with it (first sale doctrine gives me the right to sell my cds, and I am equally free to expose my account information as I please).

I would have filed a counterclaim, except that by the time ebay removed my auction, it had already closed and the deal was done -- but to comply with vero, they deleted the auction anyway and *refunded my fees* accordingly. So, uh, thanks to Blizzard and ebay!

Another scam... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276509)

Fake trading cards. I've got a relative that pointed this out to me maybe a year ago -- for example, people will take a legit football card, buy a jersey in the store, and make a fake "unique" patch card.

Here's one article [ebay.com] on the problem.

F them anyway (4, Funny)

mattytee (1395955) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276545)

Regardless of my opinion on the matter at hand, after 11 years of buying and selling on eBay, it is impossible not to feel satisfaction when they lose a lot of money.

And regardless of the outcome of this, they're losing money right now, or at least not making it hand over fist.

I'm very satisfied. F them!

Re:F them anyway (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276743)

While I've had my share of bad experiences on eBay, I would definitely be sad to see them go.

For one, they have no real competition, and for another, there really isn't an online equivalent that I'd trust (not that I trust eBay much - but at least I trust that my transactions are conducted under a safe environment).

At the end of the day, I've found a lot of stuff on eBay that I couldn't find elsewhere (mostly older books that haven't been published; antique cuff links; great seconds of good shoes etc - I could go on).

I certainly hope that they win this case, and continue to do well. If not anything else, they were pioneers.

The VERO Customer Support is terrible!!! (5, Interesting)

kangol69 (1167551) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276551)

I was selling some Monavie Active on ebay. Monavie Active is basically a health juice drink that is sold exclusively by Monavie Inc. so it is in Monavie's interest to stop people from selling Monaive active on ebay because they have a monopoly over the product. So they report every listing they find on ebay as Infringing on their copyright and ebay automatically takes it down. Now this wouldn't be so bad if ebay had good support but ebay in my opinion is lacking in that area. You can do the whole live chat thing but the reps on that have no influence over the VERO program. You have to reach them by a hidden form on their site and then you get an email address (rswebhelp@ebay.com) All you'll get from talking to them is that you have to contact the company that filed the infringement (Monavie) to resolve it. Now remember Monavie has a monopoly over their product and so their is no way they'll resolve this with me peacefully. Now I admit that ebay is just trying to play nice with everybody but they should really do more to support the little guy when he starts getting squished by the big Corps.

Re:The VERO Customer Support is terrible!!! (1, Interesting)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276653)

Maybe I'm just mo naive than some, but, isn't that a legitimate case, ie: they are within the law to ask eBay to remove/disable/etc your ability to sell their product.

Maybe you should contact them, sign up to be a distributor. Or make your own kool-aid, and sell that so they don't have a "monopoly". And I'd like to point out that a quick search led me to 3 companies, MonaVie, AgroLabs and Dr. Tims, which means there is probably another 6 at least.

Re:The VERO Customer Support is terrible!!! (3, Informative)

JimMcc (31079) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276733)

I don't know Monavie from a hole in the wall, but are you suggesting that they have the right to restrict the sale of a physical item that was legitimately bought? Assuming the OP buys a physical item with no signed contractual agreement not to resell it, what basis does the manufacturer have to prohibit the sale.

Come on. It it were Sony/BMG trying to prevent him from reselling a brand new, still in the wrapper, Rap-Snoop-Poop-Dog's Greatest Hits album, you'd be all over Sony. According to your views, now we don't even own the physical items we purchase.

Please let me off this bus!

Re:The VERO Customer Support is terrible!!! (-1, Troll)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276861)

How can anyone say it is the real thing? Why would you try selling the real thing, anyway? Wouldn't it be cheaper to make up something of your own and sell it with their name on it? And, nobody (but you) would know any different. Maybe after they tried it, but it would be a little late.

That is why they are restrictive of who their resellers are. If you don't understand, you need to figure how how easy it is to sell fake stuff. Cheaper. Get more sales. See how easy it is?

Now if they knew you were selling their product, for real, you might have a point. But they don't unless you have a relationship with them as a reseller. Since there is no relationship, they can assume whatever they want - such as you are selling fake stuff.

Re:The VERO Customer Support is terrible!!! (3, Insightful)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276933)

Sure, they can assume whatever they want -- but their unfounded assumptions shouldn't interfere with anyone else's ability to buy or sell; nor should it be deemed sufficient grounds to suspend anyone's eBay account.

If they think the product is fake they should have no trouble backing that claim up with evidence. Even then, it's the defrauded buyers that should be pressing claims, not the purported manufacturer.

Re:The VERO Customer Support is terrible!!! (2, Informative)

kangol69 (1167551) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277023)

Monavie has no "Resellers". When someone wants to buy Monavie they have to sign up to be a "Distributor" of Monavie Inc. Basically it's just a pyramid scheme system and you have to sign up to get Auto Shipped Monavie every month. But here's the dirty part. I am a "Distributor of Monavie" and I had pictures of the receipt for the Monavie Active on my auction listing. What else could I possibly do to prove that it's real? I'm selling the real stuff because of the "Auto Ship" I have just too much of the stuff laying around and it's got an expiration date. At $200 a case I'd rather sell it cheap then let it rot.

Re:The VERO Customer Support is terrible!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27277007)

I don't know Monavie from a hole in the wall, but are you suggesting that they have the right to restrict the sale of a physical item that was legitimately bought?

Uh...since when did you have the right to list anything on ebay's site? Pretty sure ebay has the right to give you the bird if they want.

Re:The VERO Customer Support is terrible!!! (3, Interesting)

kangol69 (1167551) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277005)

Why do they have the ability to say that I can't sell their product? I bought it directly from them and it's an authentic product. That's like some company telling me I can't sell my old stuff at my own garage sale. By monopoly I meant that they are the only seller of their product. Monopoly was the wrong word. They don't have any resellers of their product so the only way to get it is directly from them. Therefore they lose money if someone buys it off of ebay because to order it from them you have to sign up to be in their pyramid scheme. Also I did contact Monavie and all I got was a sarcastic "We're Sorry" email.

Re:The VERO Customer Support is terrible!!! (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278763)

Yeah, but you seem to be redistributing, not just a one time thing "I bought too much, need to offload some"... but you seem to be going about it more like you buy it on a weekly basis, and then resell it. Which I'm pretty sure no matter which product business you are in, you need to have an agreement to do that beforehand, part of that whole company reputation, and customer guarantee shit... I'm not saying I agree with it, only that, that is how I thought it worked.

Besides, if this company is so vile, with schemes, and poor PR, and bad business practices, why do you continue to buy stuff from them, and advertise for them?

Re:The VERO Customer Support is terrible!!! (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276995)

That's because VeRO staff are not allowed to say anything other than "contact the rights owner" Seriously, that's the policy.

The VeRO members also know that, and can blissfully ignore any eBay member that shows even the slightest bit of anger.

Here's the real escalation path:
1. Do Not write into eBay, you will be told to wait a week the second you do, instead
2. Write to the rights owner first, specify exactly why your item is legitimate. If you did not buy the item directly from the rights owner, you have no case.
3. Once you get a confirmation from the rights owner that your item is legitimate, then write to eBay, and say straight off that you have contacted the rights owner, and include the entire conversation email with the rights owner.

If the rights owner ignores you, or tells you off, you must then either
A: Sue the rights owner until they contact eBay
B: Bring as much media attention as possible to the company who reported you as possible to embarrass them.

I you contact eBay first, you only have the choice of waiting a week, contacting the rights owner as in above, and then waiting up to a month.

If it's a copyright violation (not trademark), file a DMCA counternotice, immediately. The rights owner then has to sue you in order to keep the items off the site.

If it's a trademark issue, you are f***ed, sue the rights owner for damages.

Either way, as long as the item was removed through the VeRO program, you must not list any item on eBay that may lead to multiple VeRO violations. VeRO members also know this, and can conspire if they wanted to to take down high ranking powersellers by filing all their VeRO removals at the same time. And yes, it happens. Alternative medicine importers love doing this.

Some VeRO members are horribly incompetent at reporting and have very high false positive rates, such members eventually are flagged for doing so, but it will only happen if the rights owner reports that they made a mistake. Few rights owners will admit to making a mistake, so sue them if you bought the item from them. It does not matter if the company forbids resale of their merchandise on the internet (*mway), that does not make the item illegal, and eBay only removes ILLEGAL items via the VeRO program.

How is this informative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27278495)

Your advice comes down to:

1) Don't contact ebay
2) Hope the trademark owner lets you sell stuff that you own
3) If they don't, then sue them.

That's probably the dumbest advice on slashdot. And that's saying quite a lot. I mean, the mark was low, and you went lower.

Re:The VERO Customer Support is terrible!!! (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277079)

the solution is to sue monactive for slander and tortious interference. They stated that your auction was counterfeit, which is a false claim against you that cost you money, and they caused ebay to wrongfully remove your listing.

Buy local (2, Interesting)

sjdude (470014) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276741)

This is why I hardly ever buy on eBay any more (sell yes, buy no). I buy stuff on craigslist.org precisely because I can inspect stuff myself first hand before buying, and if I'm stupid enough (or want) to buy a fake, that's my problem. Not surprisingly, eBay owns 25 percent of craigslist now, but buying remotely, sight unseen, from "discount sellers" though eBay is, IMHO synonymous with asking to get ripped off. Its just too easy, as other posters have pointed out, to rip people off, and neither eBay nor Paypal do a damn thing about it.

What is the difference? (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276839)

Most buyers can't tell the difference. For the most part, they are getting a bargain because they think it is a Rolex or Louis Vutton, but it isn't really. They aren't paying for the real thing.

In a few cases, they buyer ends up feeling like a sucker because they try to sell their "bargain" to someone that knows the difference. So instead of making 10x their original investment, they learn their watch isn't "real". Well, it tells time, right?

Because of the price difference, the overpriced only-for-the-rich names are going to disappear. So in 10 years when you can't buy a new (real) Rolex anymore for $8,000 but you can buy all the fake ones you want for $80. Who is the loser here? Maybe the rich folks, but I can't see anyone on Slashdot giving a rat's ass about that.

With the Internet you make the distribution of these goods almost untracable, so there is no risk to the seller from the police. The police being used to enforce the only-for-the-rich prices for brand names. So you get a Rolex for $80 and it will last just as long as any other $80 watch - but it says Rolex on it. If your ego requires you to have brand names, this lets you do it without paying vastly inflated prices for useless names. The name doesn't make it any better, after all.

Re:What is the difference? (3, Insightful)

zrobotics (760688) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277043)

You're ignoring the fact that that $8,000 Rolex is probably made of gold/platinum, with actual diamonds/whatever. You pay the insane prices for the quality of the watch as well as the name. So while the $80 counterfeit watch may look the same, it's only the same watch on a very superficial level. So yes, about $4,000 of the price is for the name alone, there is a very real difference between genuine and counterfeit goods.

Re:What is the difference? (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277065)

The name doesn't make it any better, after all.

Well, beyond a certain point, no. But an $80 "Rolex" copy isn't anywhere near that point (especially since it's guts are probably those of a $10 watch). If you really need an accurate timepiece that can stand up to the rigors that Rolexes, Omegas, etc are designed for (eg you're a diver, or a pilot, or otherwise venture where wear-and-tear will destroy that $10 watch in no time), then you'll have to pay a bit more.

But not $8000 -- a $300 Seiko (for example) will probably do about as well.

Re:What is the difference? (4, Funny)

Cathbard (954906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277225)

A friend of mine had a Rolex that he picked up somewhere dirt cheap - a genuine one. The trouble was that he couldn't wear it because as he said, "People either thought I paid $10k for a watch and therefore must be a wanka or I was wearing a copy and trying to look like I spent $10k on a watch and therefore a wanka"

You gotta laugh.

The problem is actually much worse... (5, Interesting)

coldwatergator (1505685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277157)

It is very difficult for a purchaser to effectively file a counterfeit item report with Ebay. Realistically, they must get the assistance of the manufacturer to do so. I got stung when I purchased what was listed as an OEM part that had been out-of-production for a couple of years. The manufacturer was not interested in pursuing the matter. I would have had to pay for a qualified expert witness to examine the item and report on the item. The seller had admitted to me that they were having the items manufactured in China but labeled as being made by a reputable multinational firm in Japan. Even with my status of being a licensed PI and having some "Expertise" in the field of this part, Ebay refused to take substantive action. Paypal reversed the charges but that was it. Pursuing the matter with Customs and USPS is difficult without the assistance of the legitimate manufacturer. But they weren't interested in working a part that has been out-of-production for a couple of years. The Ebay power seller is still in operation. A close examination of his feedback shows that some others have been unhappy with the quality of his items, but "Happy" because he did refund the money when they complained and returned the item. I didn't want to ship contraband back to him as it is illegal to do so. I still hold the item and plan to sue him in civil court.

If anything, too active... (2, Interesting)

seebs (15766) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277297)

Look at the rate at which they've been able to get Scientology stuff banned from eBay (such as 100% legit e-meters)... Because if there's a used market, the CoS doesn't make as much money.

Re:If anything, too active... (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278043)

Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if the Church is trying to stop people who are "not authorized to have e-meters" from getting them (including those who might want to bust the myth that the e-meter does whatever the Church claims it does)

"eBay says 100% of reported listings were removed" (1)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277303)

eBay says 100% of reported listings were removed from the site last year, most within 12 hours, and the company uses sellers' background information to make sure that they don't create new accounts to sell delisted items.

They were able to validate these allegations every single time and be sure after proper audi alteram partem that the expulsion of the seller was warranted?
So eBay and rightholders are unfailing, Dave?

The flip side of globalisation (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277453)

I think another issue to consider when these manufacturers have excess production units available for sale, constructed with the cheap labor in the first place then bail up e-bay because they're available for sale on e-bay.

Of course the manufacturers would prefer the excess units be destroyed, than someone getting a fake North Face jacket for a 20th of the purchase price of the "real" item made in the same factory two days earlier.

I don't really care about fake Levi's..... (1)

BestNicksRTaken (582194) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277575)

....and Rolexes some moron will buy for a fiver, but what about all the stuff from Hong Kong that looks and sounds great one the page and then turns out to be utter crap when it arrives, and in some cases a fire risk - such as a power supply for a webcam I bought that was constantly painfully hot to the touch.

Plus then there's over-inflated postage costs that prevent you from sending the item back - if the vendor even offers that and doesn't just switch username in a week's time and gets all his Hong Kong buddies to give him feedback.

Poor people don't care about buying the real thing (2, Interesting)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277879)

Regarding counterfeit fashion gear, the problem is more the fact no one cares. They know it's counterfeit and just care about what people see them wearing.

Like someone is actually going to believe that a person driving some old little hatchback car with a job at Tesco actually bought a real Fendi bag.

My complaint is how hard it is to buy real video games thanks to all the junk from Hong Kong.

Maybe it's improved but if ever I go back to buy a game from ebay I will flat out refuse to buy from anyone that looks like their image came from a google search.

Re:Poor people don't care about buying the real th (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278181)

It would be good if they labelled the items as fake. If people know exactly what they're buying then there's no problem.

Re:Poor people don't care about buying the real th (1)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278467)

I for one don't mind buying counterfeit items, with counterfeit money of course :)
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