After having purchased a second fake brand-name rucksack, I have decided to try writing an eBay purchasing guide of my own.
Imitations or clones of various brands is okay, in my eyes, if the item is not advertised as the real thing AND the buyer is aware that what they are buying is not the real thing. However, when an item is advertised as real, original and 'BNWT' (brand new with tags), but it's a definite fake, there's a serious problem. You'd be suprised what factories can copy, modify and produce these
days. Golf clubs, trainers, luggage and more are all relatively easy to
fake and sell to unsuspecting consumers.
Telltale signs something you're interested in is a fake:
1. The Price. If that 'official BMW cap' is just a penny, it's probably a fake. Brand-name jeans are especially susceptible to cheap fakes. This is a very obvious sign you're looking at a fake.
2. The product advertised does not exist. Do a web search with the brand name and product name or model number. If the product only shows up on eBay, it's possibly a fake. If non-eBay web shops don't carry the exact product, it's probably a fake. If the official company website doesn't list the exact same product, it's most likely a fake. To absolutely confirm a fake product, call or email the company and ask if the product you are looking at is in their product range. If it was recently discontinued, the item in question is likely authentic. If the product never existed then delete the item from your Watch list!
OK, let's say you've purchased the item even after ignoring the warning signs. How can you tell it's a fake?
1. Shoddy workmanship. Bad or uneven stitching, cuts in the fabric, loose threads or stitches, mould seam lines in strange places, etc. In general, if you get a bad feeling about the product upon first glance, don't be optimistic about owning a real item.
2. Bad printing on the information tag (the thin cardboard tag with product information). Read the product tag carefully. If the grammar is bad, the font type is strange or different to other items from the same company (most companies have official fonts they use), the colour print is offset, etc., you're holding a fake in your hands.
3. Obvious quality errors. Assume you purchased a top-of-the-line outdoor trekking jacket or top-quality sunglasses. If the logo stitching can be seen through the multiple layers of the jacket, or the logo on the glasses is loose or easily scratched, you've got a fake.
What can you do? Now that you know you have a fake, what recourse do you have?
1. Ask the seller for a refund. I was able to get a begrudging refund from the first person I bought a fake from, simply by acting stupid and saying I didn't expect this top-quality rucksack to break on its first day of use. Feel the seller out and try to word your message nicely, especially if you have already left feedback for them.
2. Report the seller to eBay or the company whose fakes are being sold. If you get no joy from the seller, mention that you will report them to eBay or someone else. If they have a store or high feedback they will likely back down and offer you your money back. Asking for the postage you paid is cheeky but they may refund that as well. Don't expect to have them pay for postage back to them, either.
3. If the seller is local to you or you can contact their local authorities, you can report them to the police or Customs officials. Realistically the authorities probably won't have the time to investigate this one seller, but with enough complaints they will eventually take a look. Remember, it's all about karma! :)
About clone or copy items
It's easy these days to get cheap iPod imitations that aren't advertised as real iPods but supposedly function just the same or better. My suggestion for any imitations or copies of popular items like this is to do a web search for the exact item name with the word 'review'. You will usually find someone's website or a web forum that mentions 'I bought such-and-such and it said it would do this but it doesn't work as advertised, etc.' It's easier to find reviews of electronic gadgets like MP3 players because the 'net is very tech-heavy, but a simple 2-minute search online can perform wonders...and save you plenty of money!
I hope this is a helpful guide to spotting fakes on eBay, or even at market stalls and other offline shops. It's always been 'buyer beware', and with the ease and temptation of buying online, sight unseen, the need to be wary of what you buy is even more important.