Online retail giant Amazon is profiting from Chinese counterfeiters undercutting genuine manufacturers on its platform, a small US business has claimed.
In a blog post on its website, Elevation Lab, which makes a small under-desk mount for headphones, has accused Amazon of not only being complicit in the sale of counterfeit goods on its platform, but also of profiting alongside the fraudsters who make cheap knockoffs of its products.
Noting how a Chinese firm named suiningdonghanjiaju Co Ltd had reverse engineered its Anchor product and mopped up all of its sales on Amazon after undercutting its prices, Elevation Lab said Amazon’s policies actively promote the activities of counterfeiters, who are able to use the platform to sell their bogus products while remaining anonymous.
Directing his comments at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Elevation Lab founder Casey Hopkins said Amazon could do a lot more to stop counterfeiters using its platform to sell fake items, such as forcing new sellers to get approval to sell a product that has already been registered.
“Why Amazon doesn’t do this is mind-blowing and makes them complicit in the rampant counterfeiting on their platform,” Hopkins wrote.
“We are definitely not the first seller for this to happen to. And it lowers Amazon customers’ trust in the platform when they unknowingly receive knockoffs.
Addressing the claims made by Elevation Lab, Amazon issued a statement saying: “Amazon makes significant investments in innovative machine learning and automated systems in order to anticipate and stay ahead of bad actors.
“On an ongoing basis, Amazon’s systems also automatically and continuously scan numerous data points related to sellers, products, brands, and offers to detect activity that indicates products offered might be counterfeit.
“Customers are always protected by our A-to-Z guarantee, whether they make a purchase from Amazon or a third-party seller. If ever the product doesn’t arrive or isn’t as advertised, customers can contact our customer support for a full refund of their order. We take this fight against bad actors very seriously and will not rest.”
Only last week, a US government report warned of the high number of counterfeit items being offered for sale on websites such as Amazon, Walmart and eBay.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) study noted how the rise of ecommerce had created a threat to intellectual property rights holders, and made it much more difficult for consumers to determine if what they are buying is genuine.
As well as posing a significant threat to the health and safety of consumers, the widespread availability of cheap counterfeit goods on ecommerce platforms also endangers legitimate manufacturers and the wider US economy, the report warned.
“If marketplace leaders struggle to keep out counterfeit products, and if consumers cannot rely on those leading companies to protect them from counterfeits, we have a serious problem that can undermine consumer confidence in the entire retail market,” said Beverly Baskin, CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.