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The Counterfeit Report Pounds eBay, Saying Promises Were Broken

The Counterfeit Report, a website backed by manufacturers who want to educate consumers about fakes, has accused eBay of breaking its promise for meaningful reform over the issue of counterfeits for sale on the eBay marketplace.

Craig Crosby, publisher of the Counterfeit Report, caused a stir last week when he accused eBay of retaliating against him and of removing comments from its website that warned consumers of counterfeit listings.

Yesterday, he issued another statement to the press saying that eBay publicly offered the olive branch, but accused eBay of snubbing it in private.

“The facade offered to appease inquiring reporters quickly vaporized in just a week when Director of Global Policy, Gary Fullmer, and Senior Manager of Global Brand Protection, Daniel Shapiro backtracked on their commitment for reform to protect consumers. The Counterfeit Report received a less-than-minimal effort email with a web link to “Report This Item” and most account issues remained unresolved,” Crosby said in Wednesday’s press release.

Crosby told EcommerceBytes he had had a conference call with eBay senior management on November 11, who offered to work together and present a proposal and path forward on how to handle anti-counterfeit efforts by Friday of last week. “This did not materialize,” Crosby said.

“They committed to unblocking our blocked accounts, and correcting the altered feedback, changed case dispositions and refunds to their original status. The accounts we unblocked. The remainder were not addressed.”

Crosby also said eBay offered to assemble a group to identify, work through and resolve the issues and problems he had with eBay customer service and supervisors with the consumer protection counterfeit policy, procedural conflicts and product returns. “This did not happen,” Crosby said.

After two email inquiries after the Friday deadline, Crosby said he received the following response from Gary Fullmer, Director of eBay Global Policy, on Tuesday night.

Mr. Crosby,
Thank you for speaking with us last week regarding your accounts. I appreciate your patience as we looked into the matter. We have reinstated your accounts: pb_*p, c and i-**utions.

Counterfeits are illegal and not welcome on any of eBay’s sites. eBay strictly prohibits the sale or purchase of counterfeits and is fully committed to combating the trade of counterfeit goods.

We share a common goal of keeping counterfeits off of eBay. The most efficient way to achieve this goal is for you to utilize our best-in-class Verified Rights Owners program, which we designed to effectively remove allegedly infringing items from our marketplace. This program allows eBay to properly investigate reported items, while maintaining a fair and safe marketplace for both our buyers and sellers.

Going forward, we ask that you please partner with us to report suspicious items using our “Report This Item” functionality or the Verified Rights Owner Program. You will need to ensure that your accounts and any activity you engage in on our site comply with our User Agreement, which includes not breaching or circumventing any laws, and not interfering with any working or technical measures we use to provide services.

We appreciate your efforts to bring suspected counterfeits to our attention and look forward to receiving your reports through the programs we have in place.
Best regards,
Gary Fullmer

Crosby told EcommerceBytes, “Not what I would expect considering the enormity of the counterfeit crisis plaguing eBay and posing serious safety risks.”

He said one of the issues that has not been resolved is the thousands of “buyer priors” of the dangerous (and deadly) counterfeit Apple chargers and other products he had purchased during a 9-month investigation.

“eBay attempted to dismiss this to an automated system identifying the buying practices as buyer abuse. What they didn’t mention dozens of phone conversations (28.5 hours) with eBay supervisory staff, emails, previous press releases and internal messaging clearly informing them exactly what we were doing.”

We called and emailed eBay’s public relations department on Wednesday afternoon to ask for a response to Crosby’s most recent allegations. It did not respond by press time.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.