- When I first started selling razor blades by post, I had no idea that anyone bothered to make counterfeit razor blades (or other everyday necessities) but as I've learned more and more, counterfeit merchandise of this kind is actually very common! Surprisingly (and appalingly) common! It seems obvious that expensive designer clothes and bags like Armani suits and Chanel bags get counterfeited, since they cost so much in shops and there is such a big demand for them, but it didn't occur to me (or many other people) that razor blades would also be counterfeited. And I like to think that I would be able to tell the difference between a real Chanel bag and a fake one, but from what I've read, sometimes it's not that easy to tell. Surprisingly, the same is true of razor blades, electric tooth brush heads and numerous other items.
So I have some advice for anybody who is trying to save money by buying everyday items on eBay.
If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Not long ago, I saw another seller (everythingdirect-07) selling the same type of razor blades (Gillette Fusion Power) that sell best for me. He was selling them in huge quantities (hundreds per day in lots of 8, 16, 24, 32, 40 and 80) at far below the (eBay) market price - he was flooding the market with them. I figured he'd just gotten a really good deal on a really large amount of razor blades somehow, so I put in really low bids (lower than my best genuine supplier's price) on some of his larger lots and won quite a few (9 lots of 16-80 razor blades per lot) over a week's time.
It turns out he sells fake razor blades. :-( I felt so stupid, embarrassed, ashamed... and angry. I wasn't just a regular guy who got suckered for 10 or 20 quid, but someone who was defrauded of hundreds of pounds. For my investment, I have a bunch of useless junk to show for it. The case is still pending with eBay and PayPal, and I might actually have a legal case since he is also in the UK and has sent me a threatening/blackmailing email (making physical threats and demanding I send more money) but I don't know how all of this will turn out. Not overly optimistic, but you never know.
Anyway, a lot of his customers made the same mistake I made: posting positive feedback immediately after receiving the product. The packaging looks perfectly genuine, but the blades are clearly different and inferior (when used). Since I didn't think about the possibility of the blades being fake, I posted positive feedback very soon after happily opening the box to find the initial 160 razor blades (20 eight-packs) that I ordered. Later, when I realized the blades were fake and could not change the feedback, I felt pretty dumb, and felt like the feedback system was flawed :-( So if you are buying something on eBay, you should try it out (not just look at the box) before posting feedback, that way you don't leave a positive comment for a seller who doesn't actually deserve it. If I'd simply tried shaving with those blades one time before leaving him positive feedback, he wouldn't have received any positive feedback from me, and that would have helped a lot of people who were bidding on his auctions at the time to realize they shouldn't be bidding on his stuff.
I said I had some advice, but I got off track. Always check the feedback of the seller very carefully, and remain cautious even if there are no signs of dodgy practices in the seller's feedback. Looking at the feedback of the person I purchased the blades from in the nightmare described above, he now has tons of negative feedback. He also has many positive and neutral feedback that say he's slow and a seller of fake/crummy razor blades from people who were apparently afraid that if they left a negative they would get negative feedback in retaliation. At the time I won many of his auctions, he only had positive feedback. He also had a much lower feedback number. So, besides looking at feedback (not just the number, but the comments themselves), I recommend looking for sellers who have been selling for a long time, and have been selling the same product for a long time (meaning several Months, because it often takes eBay a few months to notice and crack down on a person selling fakes), without complaints about fake or dull blades. Although you probably want to save as much time and money as you can by using eBay, it makes some sense not to buy from the cheapest seller if he has no reputation, or worse, a poor reputation.
As for fake razor blades themselves, the easiest way to figure out if they are fake or genuine is to simply use them.
The fake ones are terrible, and you'll realize it very quickly; they cut you and don't give a close shave by any standard. They look very much like the genuine product, but they do not feel the same in use. Also, when you try attaching fake cartridges to the handle, those often don't fit in snugly and don't seem to be attached correctly. There are some minor differences that you can see when comparing them to store-purchased definitely genuine blades, but if you don't have a store-purchased genuine article to compare to it's very hard to see they are fake by just looking at them.
The outer packaging looks identical. I could not find a difference, and the reason for that seems pretty obvious: they scan the original and make an exact copy of the packaging (the plastic and thin cardboard inside with all the logos and product details, etc). That is not technologically difficult to do compared to making a razor blade cartridge, so if they can make cartridges that are nearly identical in appearance, it should be no surprise that the packaging is almost an exact match.
The inner packaging, the little trays that hold the razor cartridges do look different. As you can see in the photos below, the genuine blades come in a much lighter colored tray, almost transparent with just a hint of orangeness, whereas the fakes are a much more opaque orange color. (In these photos, the tray on top is fake and the tray on the bottom is genuine).
(If you are interested in seeing these pics in full size, see my third blog entry on my "eBay World" blog).
The way the blades are attached to the cartridge is also visibly different, but I wasn't able to get a photo that clearly showed that difference.
If you have purchased fake blades (or anything else) from a seller on eBay, you should contact that seller and ask for a refund or exchange for the genuine product. If your seller isn't helpful, I recommend initiating a dispute with eBay (and/or PayPal) and reporting the item number(s) of the counterfeit item(s) to eBay using the "Replica, Counterfeit Items and Unauthorised Copies" webform (link). You should also report the item numbers of duplicate listings the seller has on eBay. In my experience, they actually respond to that very quickly (on weekdays), and they remove the item from the database, which may even help you avoid receiving retaliatory feedback if you leave negative feedback for that seller before the auction is deleted (so report the item with the link above just before you post your negative feedback). You may or may not be able to get your money back, but you can help clean up eBay of sellers who give eBay a bad name and rip people off.