Get early access to 10 untold Malaysian stories: Unboxing eCommerce Entrepreneurs

Selling fake products online: the villain and guardian

October 23, 2013 CK Wong Category : , , , , , , ,

Fake or counterfeit items on the rise

Counterfeit and pirated goods is a big market on Internet due to the fact that it is easy for sellers to cheat customers virtually at the same time Internet is largely unregulated.

Therefore, complaints on counterfeit or fake items is nothing new and many cases have been reported all this while. Don't believe? Just perform a "fake items" search on Lowyat.NET.

Like it or not, dishonest sellers or merchants will always be there. In most cases, marketplace operators are the last line of defense to online purchases but some marketplaces got into trouble more often than others, just like the one below which happened recently.

Customer's complaint on fake items
A certain marketplace's response to a victim of counterfeit purchase

Who is the villain?

Without doubt, dishonest online sellers.

We have a reader who wrote in and shared his unpleasant experience. For the record, he bought online from a merchant who sells in a local marketplace but only to receive fake products. Not only the seller refused to refund for the counterfeit items, he even questioned the customer whether "do you understand what is online shopping?".

Irresponsible seller's reaction to customer's complaint on fake product
You are supposed to expect buying fake products online, according to this irresponsible seller

According to this reader, not only that the seller is dishonest but he is behaving like a thug while communicating with his customer.

If you are trying to cheat customers by selling counterfeit items online, please do it in the pasar malam instead and find your willing customers, where people can touch and see.

Of course, there are also some genuine online sellers who might not be aware that their products are high-quality fakes or not licensed. In this case, please verify your product sources and perform diligent check if necessary.

Who is the guardian?

Online marketplaces including C2C, B2C, B2B2C and deal sites are the last line of defense to combat counterfeit items.

This is especially true for inventory-free marketplaces where there is a large pool of third party sellers which is difficult to control. This is why Alibaba setup to build trust with genuine products, as there are just too many fakes in Taobao. We can also see similar situation in Malaysia with and Superbuy.

Online marketplace needs to protect customers from dishonest sellers

Online marketplaces should perform necessary screening on merchants and products they carry, to avoid counterfeit items being sold. This is quite challenging for C2C sites but deal sites have to do much better as a single product deal can generate huge sales volume hence potentially hurt hundreds or even thousands of customers' confidence towards online shopping.

No matter how strict the screening is, there are bound to be sellers that abuse the trust so if this happens, online marketplace should take stern actions by not allowing them to sell in the platform anymore, not matter how much sales volume this particular seller can bring in.

Now, if there is a "Hall of Shame" of dishonest sellers to be shared among all the local online marketplaces.

How to avoid buying counterfeits online?

As an online shopper, it is actually not that difficult to avoid buying counterfeits or being scammed by online merchants.

If you are shopping on marketplaces, always vet on the seller's profile by looking at the ratings and reviews, especially if you are buying for the first time from a particular merchant.

Always check online seller's reputation via rating, review
Seller's ratings and reviews in online marketplaces

If you are buying from an individual online store, you can apply similar practices by checking on the Facebook page and avoid placing order if there are loads of complaints there.

Be extra careful buying from online classified sites, especially from unknown sellers. It is a loosely regulated platform ideal for scammers to look for potential victims.

In any cases, it is advisable to use credit card as your payment method for online purchases as your interest will be somehow protected. As a consumer, you can exercise your rights to issue a chargeback in case of misfortunes.

The rule of thumb is, use your common sense, if the offer is too good to be true, it is very unlikely to be true.


What say you?