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    The Wirecutter | Ganda Suthivarakom | 2/11/20 | 17 min
    11 reads14 comments
    8.7
    The Wirecutter
    11 reads
    8.7
    You must read the article before you can post or reply.
    • loundytampa7 months ago

      I wonder if there “counterfeit” chart will level out or continue to climb

      • bill
        Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
        7 months ago

        I’m thinking the climb will continue. Good question though. Needs to be an upper limit.

    • Alexa
      Scout
      7 months ago

      I saw a mini doc about this problem and it completely changed how I approached shopping online, esp Amazon.

      “Many consumers are … unaware of the significant probabilities they face of being defrauded by counterfeiters when they shop on e-commerce platforms,”

      It's horrifying what happens thanks to these fakes, ones you usually only used to find at Santee Alley or shady swap meets.

      Worldwide, there have been instances of fake chargers causing electrocution deaths (PDF), phony cosmetics making a buyer’s face swell up, and pet supplements sickening dogs. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other law enforcement agencies have reported finding carcinogens, bacteria, and waste from both humans and rodents in counterfeit cosmetics. Fake chargers and cheaply-made lithium ion batteries can damage your electronics and even catch fire.

      Honestly, I don't believe Amazon has the best intentions in cracking down on these, it feels like PR. They make SO much money off their portion of these 3rd party sellers I don't totally trust it. I let my Amazon Prime membership expire at the end of last year and it felt great to not have to battle that mental game of deciding if Amazon had any ethical code left or not.

      • Karenz7 months ago

        I bought a cosmetic product on Amazon and never received the item. I don’t think the “third party seller” was even a legitimate site. PayPal was great in getting my money back but it was my first realization that Amazon wasn’t selling the products itself or making sure a seller was legit.

    • tgallen7 months ago

      An interesting article that I am glad is getting attention..

      From my own experience, I just bought a pencil for my Apple iPad that appears it was from a third-party seller. While the pencil seems to work well (so far) and is perhaps comparable to the more expensive Apple product, I was a bit troubled with what also came with it: included in the packaging was a small card that at first glance, looked like a gift card from Amazon. On the back of this card were printed directions from the seller promising a real $20 gift card from Amazon in return for a positive review of the product I just purchased…I believe the directions even suggested wording I could use in my review and a way to verify that it was completed

      I can honestly say that I did not write any such review for the product and do not intend to unless I feel it is deserved. I was not enticed by a gift card, but I do know of others around me that would have been. This made me reconsider my purchasing habits on Amazon…especially since I know that I looked at those reviews when I purchased the product thinking they were from legitimate customers happy with the product, certainly not consumers enticed with bribery of a $20 gift certificate

      I don’t know if anyone else has had similar experiences but the notion of disregarding reviews from this article resonated with me, and I hope it resonates with other readers too.

      It left me wondering if I should report the seller to Amazon, but then again, the product seems to work. Is my own experience just an ambitious third-party seller trying to save consumers money and prosper in a cut throat market, , or is the gift-card-as-bribery model unfairly overstepping? Are there enough people who are savvy and like-minded to disregarded it as a ploy? I guess it’s never just black-and-white, is it?

      This experience and reading this article made me realize just how “taken” all of us can be when it comes to consumerism without integrity or regulations.

      • Alexa
        Scout
        7 months ago

        ugh yessss..I have gotten it a step up too and have been invited to jobs (as a writer) that are 100% just to write positive reviews. It's appalling

      • bill
        Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
        7 months ago

        💯 I have had the exact same experience! Thanks for sharing. Great points.

        I can’t remember exactly what the product was, but I have def been borderline-bribed into giving a 5-star review, exactly as you describe. There are tons of tactics, and, for me at least, they all backfire - I assume the product is even lower quality. Then again, by that time, I have the product in my hand. So: Amazon 1, Bill 0.

    • jbuchana
      Scribe
      7 months ago

      This article makes me think of three things.

      Counterfeit chargers and other inexpensive consumer items, especially those powered by your wall outlets, are scary. If you don't feel like sleeping for a while, look up bigclive.com on YouTube. Among other things, he posts videos where he tears down and analyzes the safety of such products. The bad design and corner-cutting on these products can be downright deadly, and he documents this.

      Fakes are not limited to consumer products. The actual components used to make products, including the components bought in good faith by legitimate manufacturers are often counterfeited. Integrated circuits, i.e. chips or ICs, which make up most electronic products are often fake. Some don't work at all, but those are the best case, at least the manufacturer knows it when that happens. Some work sorta OK, but fail under some circumstances making the product fail in interesting ways. These parts have totally infiltrated the supply chain, a huge international company can buy parts from a huge international component supplier and get fake parts that the seller didn't even know about. Sort of like a consumer buying from eBay or Amazon, but these are parts going into legitimate products, causing problems down the line. Hobbyists (such as myself) or small electronic manufacturers are take a real risk when they buy electronic components online, even from legitimate retailers, and especially from eBay etc. One of the techniques used by IC counterfitters is to take a part that looks like the more expensive part, sand off the markings, then re-mark it as a more expensive item. Another method is to steal legitimate parts that failed quality control at the factory, and sell them as good parts. these often sort of work but fail when they get hot, or cold, or when they encounter some other situation that a good part could handle.

      Not quite fake, but a few months ago my wife and I bought two laptops from the same ad on Amazon. We ordered the same item in two different colors, but we wound up with two totally different products. Both are Dell laptops which work well, but mine is the model we ordered and hers isn't They both work well, and have very similar specs, but they look totally different and are one model year apart. Hers is the newer one. Go figure.

      • jeff
        Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
        7 months ago

        Love Big Clive's teardown videos! AvE's are great as well. The wealth of consumer education content available on YouTube is awesome and even more amazing is how entertaining it can be.

        Your point about fake ICs also reminded me of the bad capacitors that were getting put in all kinds of computer products in the early 2000's. I'm going to have to look it up to see if that was the result of fake products or legitimate manufacturing defects. Either way it demonstrates how every manufacturer is at the mercy of those further up in the supply chain, all the way to the mining companies extracting raw materials.

        • jbuchana
          Scribe
          7 months ago

          I love AvE's videos too. If you like building cars and racing them, check out Cleetus McFarland's YouTube Channel. Garret (his real name) just bought his own racetrack and they're getting it ready for events. The Hydraulic Press channel and the Beyond the Press channels are good too, a Finnish couple crushes things on the first channel and do other interesting things on their other channel. Lock Picking Lawyer's YouTube channel will make you give up all hope in the security of locks, he can open most locks in less than a minute, sometimes using techniques anyone can do with no real training.

          • jeff
            Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
            7 months ago

            I'm huge fans of Lock Picking Lawyer and the Hydraulic Press Channel, but hadn't heard of Cleetus McFarland. Looks like he has some awesome project videos, just subscribed! If you haven't heard of them already I couldn't recommend Bad Obsession Motorsport's channel enough. The level of engineering and craftsmanship that has gone into Project Binky totally blows my mind. Makes my day any time a new video of theirs is released.

    • jeff
      Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
      7 months ago

      It'll be interesting to see how far Amazon will go to fix these problems. I used to be the biggest Amazon fan ever but in the past year or so I've been ordering more and more products either directly from the manufacturer or more specialized retailers.

      Searching for a new valve for my washing machine on Amazon returned a dozen different listings, all with slightly different pictures and all claiming to be an official LG part with the same model number. I noped right over to a site that specializes in appliance parts and ordered from them. Car parts on Amazon are even worse. The whole thing's starting to feel like a flea market, and I hate flea markets.

      • jbuchana
        Scribe
        7 months ago

        I like flea markets, but not for serious purchases! I agree that that's what Amazon seems to be becoming. I sometimes order car parts there, so far the results have been good for everything except a truck bumper I bought that came without brackets to actually mount it. I sandblasted and repainted the old one in place if that doesn't work out (the paint, Rustoleum, seems to be failing due to road salt), I suppose I'll cut the mounts off the old one and weld it to the new one. Shipping to return it would be too much. Or maybe I could buy from an auto parts seller and get an item that matches the description.

    • bill
      Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
      7 months ago

      Devil’s advocate:

      • Decentralization is good.
      • “Third-party” marketplaces are awesome.

      I don’t like or use Amazon because I don’t like stuff. Especially new stuff. But when I do need something, it works perfectly. So why all the frustration?

      This article was above average, but on the topic of fake stuff, the best ever is There’s No Such Thing as a Free Watch by Jenny Odell. Odell succeeds precisely where this article fails. She brings empathy. She introspects.

      Also, this:

      In the 2010s, the spread of misinformation and “fake news” meant learning to consume articles and news programs with skepticism.

      As far as I know, there’s more learning to do there.