Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Nov 18 2015 17:41:34

Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

Selling on Amazon is becoming a minefield, sellers are reporting to EcommerceBytes and on industry discussion boards, citing a laundry list of problems. Complaints are just as loud for conditions in gated categories where sellers must get approval from Amazon before selling in those categories.

"I am guessing you are aware of the many suspensions that are occurring in the Jewelry category followed up by a long term punishment of reduced search exposure, lasting anywhere from 4-24 months of almost no sales," one seller wrote to EcommerceBytes. "And all of this is for minor or relatively minor infractions or violations of the FTC guidelines for selling precious metals and gemstones OR for violations of Amazon Guidelines which in some cases are stricter than the FTC."

Perusing the Amazon discussion boards reveals many complaints about the company's practices. One gripe is that Amazon's own listings and those of overseas sellers are not held to the same standards as domestic sellers.

Amazon has published several pages outlining requirements for selling jewelry, and a seller said the documents conflict one another and said Amazon doesn't make it clear when changes are made, making it difficult for sellers to keep up to date.

Adding to the complexity, the seller said: "Seller Support will tell you conflicting information to the documents." That is indeed the case - we saw one instance where an Amazon moderator acknowledged that Seller Support had given a seller incorrect information.

One seller with whom we spoke said there are several ways jewelry sellers can get into trouble through no fault of their own. One way is when Amazon makes changes to a product page that can cause the seller to be out of compliance.

Another way is when a different seller, known as a piggybacker, sells a copycat item and makes changes to the page. On this Amazon Help page, it states, "All unbranded jewelry products must be listed on separate seller-created detail pages. Except for branded designer jewelry and jewelry accessories that include manufacturer UPC codes, sellers may not match against existing selection in the Jewelry category."

However, sellers say Amazon does not actually prevent sellers from piggybacking, and the original seller may not discover this has happened. (Piggybacking seems to occur across many categories.)

The Amazon boards are also full of complaints about the testing process to which Amazon subjects jewelry listings.

Selling clothing items can be equally frustrating, as we report in tomorrow (Thursday's) Newsflash (available now).

Jewelry and Clothing aren't the only categories where sellers report problems. A seller on this Amazon discussion board thread talks about the problem they are having with an alleged copycat competitor who is underpricing them in the Electronics category.

"Indeed is very frustrating, and selling on Amazon is getting wore than what eBay used to be before VeRO," another seller responded.

Another seller wrote, "we too have copy-cat sellers on our products that despite test buys, proof of branding, Brand Registry etc we can't seem to "shake off" our listings."

Is Amazon responsible for the challenging environment, and what would you tell the company to do to make things better for sellers and their customers?




Comments (20) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: This a joke, right? This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Nov 18 18:12:55 2015

Selling in the categories mentioned is only asking for problems. Can't imagine selling(or buying) jewelry online. I have sold clothes in the past and it was always a pain in the rear. I have sold a few electronics over the years but steer clear of that category now unless I have an item with a large margin  

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Nov 18 23:15:55 2015

Its SO BAD in electronics that alot of manufacturers are GATED - ala Monster and SMS Audio.

I dont know what its like in clothing - but its VERY bad in electronics and "really not good" in handbags - a category I left due to so many counterfeits (MK).

It used to be eBay was even worse - but now the chinese have moved onto Amazon.

Amazon co-mingles inventory so the sellers know they cant get blamed .. "it was MY stuff".

I hope Amazon gets a better handle on it SOON!

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Thu Nov 19 00:00:06 2015

The Chinese have dominated everything the we in the US (who do not do fakes) have always hold that it is true.

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: koonkat This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 19 00:32:15 2015

Amazon doesn't even care about counterfeits.  I reported counterfeit auto parts that are supposed to be made in USA.  The real deal I sell is about $22.  Bogus sellers were selling the "same" item for $8-9. INCLUDING SHIPPING!

I reported the items to the auto mfg., and they evidently made some progress, as a very large portion of the lower tier listings are now gone.  If I were a mfg. I would talk to a lawyer about the counterfeits.  

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 19 06:13:40 2015

Amazon = Fleecebays evil twin sister.

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 19 06:17:52 2015

@Bill We in the United States who do not do fakes.

When was the last time you were in a department or grocery store and picked up a house brand.....A fake of the real good stuff it is.
We in the US just don't call them fakes as we use the house brand instead.

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

This user has validated their user name. by: FEEbay

Thu Nov 19 06:43:38 2015

2016 will be the year that we are finally rid of both of these crooked companies forever....
If you think that selling on Amazon OR Ebay is a good business model...you are insane

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 19 07:28:24 2015

Since September I have been selling way more from EB than AMZ.  Sometimes I want to list an item and find that it's gated or restricted and have to list it in EB.  Maybe it works for AMZ's bottom line to gate/restrict some categories so that 3rd party can't sell and only the brand names can.  If it works sobeit, but those sellers who went to AMZ from EB some months ago hoping it was the answer are probably running back to EB.

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: Garcia This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 19 09:09:29 2015

I am not at all surprised.  It is always tempting to allow anything you can on a selling site in order to boost sales, so counterfeit items have always sold well. I am on that site but will be packing up and leaving well before I have to pay a monthly fee.  If I want to deal with counterfeit goods on a handmade selling site I might as well stay on Etsy where things are easier to understand.  I found Amazon so confusing and such a minefield that it is best to stay away.

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: wellspring This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 19 09:16:25 2015

Clothing first. Handmade jewelry next. Amazon might own those Chinese companies as a cover to compete with USA designers and artisans.  

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: Disgruntled_Seller This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 19 10:15:33 2015

Amazon will typically do nothing unless the party filing the complaint is the Brand Owner. Even then it is a nightmare. We have over 600 Branded items we sell and that we manufacture, and only we can legitimately sell them as we have no authorized resellers anywhere, and it is a everyday thing to work to remove third party (3P) sellers from our item pages. With Amazon to prove counterfeit you typically have to purchase the item, examine it and then open a case of Amazon. Usually is straight forward, but it takes time. If you are not the brand owner you will have little luck enforcing the removal of the 3P seller from a item page from a time and cost standpoint.

If you are the provable brand owner, having your brand show in USPTO and having your UPC in your name (not just purchased from a UPC reseller) will give you more push.  You can also register in the Brand Registry. The Brand Registry in itself will not prevent a 3P seller from latching onto you item page, but it will mean you have control over the page content as far as Amazon is concerned.  

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Nov 19 10:48:22 2015

I sell items that I don't think are actually being copycatted, but the Chinese sellers and those that are in the US supposedly doing the same thing (Chinese with US locations) are listing in completely wrong categories and pricing their items 4-5 times what they sell for by regular sellers such as me. I've seen one substitute their selling name as the brand name in listings titles so maybe they are copycatting things. But it is crazy to see a pattern in a car GPS system category. I hurts pattern sellers and legitimate GPS sellers when they have flooded that category with things that don't belong.

So the other day a friend clued me into an incorrectly listed item and with some research found that just about everything they listed was incorrect. So I write in to CSR to report them. I get an email back thanking me but saying THEY are the wrong department and to send the details to a different department. So I send the details to a different department where upon I get the same type email telling me to report this to yet another department and they apparently want me doing all the research for them. I havn't had time to do this yet, but in the meantime I have picked up 2-3 more 'sellers' to report on. Has Amazon never heard of an internal memo so that THEY can send the info to the write department? Why would they expect their customers to do the research for them. I have my own work to do. But on this I will be persistent as they are messing my the category of what I sell to the detriment of all of us.

One of the main reason that I like my eCRATER store is if a buyer comes from a direct link to my store, they aren't led on any other path to other sellers. Unfortunately on Amazon, that is pretty much guaranteed to never happen. What I can't understand is the sellers that have such high prices are getting sales hand over fist, while my fairly reasonable prices and good listing comments (generally better than all the other sellers) can get ignored. Yes I sell there as well as on eCRATER and can't make a full living on either site and with the slowdown of sales lately can barely earn the basics. Part of the problem is google in my mind and another huge part are these Chinese sellers flooding the market with their bogus items.

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: Disgruntled_Seller This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 19 11:06:20 2015

One other interesting aspect about Amazon is not just counterfeiting but the sellers who latch onto a branded item page with a higher price. These sellers have no actual inventory of their own, are merchant fulfilled, and will order the item from you and ship it to the end customer. You as the seller with inventory have no real idea of what is happening. Some say that is good, as you are making a sale as well. But if you get a seller who gets the Buy Box over you (which certain can and does happen) and has the price set to high, the item's sales fall. Happens a lot on Amazon. In theory it is a great model for the non stocking seller who has 10s of thousands of items listed with no real inventory! Nothing to lose, everything to gain for these types. It is another aspect of what to kick off a branded item page that makes life fun.

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: epuise This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 19 11:12:37 2015

As long as the customers keep buying inferior quality items w/o doing their due diligence, these sites will be deluged w/ cheap copies and sellers of the real thing will suffer...

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 19 13:51:13 2015

Amazon and ebay love china and tbeir fakes.

Etsy is joining in as well bowing to china

The solution is stop selling on these venues who only protect china interests.

Dont even buy from these idiots, make them all go.away

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

This user has validated their user name. by: QueenMab

Thu Nov 19 16:23:15 2015

What about Amazon knowingly allowing Fraudulent Sellers to sell on Amazon and both the Fraudulent Seller & amazon refusing to issue full refunds to Buyers when the merchandise has been returned & the Buyer has proof of shipping to the Fraudulent Seller & proof that the Fraudulent Seller has the merchandise in their possesion?

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Thu Nov 19 17:20:22 2015

@sasikat9

A house brand doesn't label itself a name brand.

That's the difference. Sheesh!

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: LightWing This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 19 17:45:36 2015

Communists are unimaginative droids taught from birth to be liars, cheats and thieves. When you sleep with the dogs you get their fleas.

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: Troy Stiffler This user has validated their user name.

Sat Nov 21 10:38:55 2015

What matters is that they take efforts to fix it.  They definitely have a brewing problem with structured catalog data.  But they're getting so much activity, that they don't seem worried about it.  Maybe they'll start regulating at some point.

They have a big problem with users creating new listings, when they should be listing within an existing listing.  Approximately six months ago, I took steps to really ''work with'' their catalog department on ''cleaning up'' the products I'm selling on there.  The rundown is that I made a spreadsheet of 1000 ''correct'' listings, and approximately 7000 duplicate listings (I also generated perfect titles, features, descriptions, etc).  My hope was to consolidate these items, and make it easier for the customer to browse (and hopefully boost sales).  After doing all of the work (probably a good 40 hours), they said that they can't help me, and I can only submit five requests at a time.

To keep their listings ''independent'', the offenders purposely add ''632'' and ''632SEPTL'' to many of the part #'s.  And then they generate their own internal EAN # that is cross referenced in their internal system.  And all of this is just so they can create their own listings in bulk, which pollutes Amazon's catalog.

I also ran into a problem the other day.  I went to purchase ''Claritin'', and stopped after reading numerous reviews that the predominant ''FBA'' inventory (with Buy Box) is selling expired or near-expired products.

Amazon really needs to clamp down on the users doing this.  Their secret is that they're already using structured catalog data (which is the way to go) to sell their products.  If they're not careful, they're going to start looking like Ebay, and every seller will litter the catalog with their own entries.

The other annoying problem is that all of the duplicates in my sector are from the 4-5 sellers.  They need to ban those sellers, and then cancel all possible catalog entries that seller created.

Last annoying thing - all of these bad sellers (mostly overseas) are doing the same things with the catalog listings (even when they're the good listings).  Bad English.  Wrong pictures.  Wrong thumbnail (which I don't understand why so many thumbnails are different than the default product listing image).  Wrong info within.

I work in a relatively niche market.  So I hope that, by making the data clearer and easier to browse and buy - it's going to increase sales.  Amazon has incredible potential for bringing in the buyers.  And I can absorb the 15% un-tiered fee.  But I want to be selling 10x more than I am right now.

If anyone ''higher up'' at Amazon reads this, find me in your system and email me.  Because I kept getting stonewalled when trying to work this out through your normal ''request updates'' system.

Perminate Link for Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices   Amazon Sellers Deal with Copycats and Allege Unfair Practices

by: Frank F This user has validated their user name.

Sat Nov 21 22:23:13 2015

Amazon sounds like its getting just like ebay and etsy, which are both a proverbial 'cesspools' of counterfeit and tradmark infringing merchandise.

Just have a look on ebay! Be it Superman, Batman, Wonder Women, Disney Characters, Minion, Star Wars, Hello Kitty, NFL, MLB, NCAA, and other sports teams, Chevy, Ford, Jeep, Dodge, etc, etc etc.. You name the big brand and their are 1000s and 1000s of fake items being sold by these Chinese criminals.

A large portion of the counterfeiters are by Chinese and Hong Kong sellers, but their is a ever growing number of US sellers doing the same thing. Ebay doesn't seem to monitor or enfordce its policies, and I imagine it like a game of 'whack a mole' for the brand owners where they are simply overwhelmed by it. For example, they knock a China seller off that is selling fakes, and the China seller is back in business under another id the next day.. I've even seen where the Chinese sellers already have 30-40 ids and roll auctions under different ones so that its about impossible for the brand owners to keep up with them..

If ebay and Amazon are not going to address this, then maybe its high time that Homeland Security should step in. They have an IP Fraud and Piracy Division and it would seem that this would be right up their alley when sleazy foreign criminals are preying on the American consumer selling them fake goods and are damaging the US economy in the process... Sure wish something is done about this, as its going to be the death nail for American ecommerce small businesses.. This has been the worse year selling online in 15 years and I think this fragrant counterfeiting (and the marketplaces condoning it) is the reason why. Everything has been downhill since 2012, and that was the time that these Chinese moved into the direct to consumer market with all these fakes..

Everyone contact your Congressman, contact Homeland Securities IP Fraud Division, and hammer these marketplaces in all your blogs, communities and social media. We need to band together and stand up again this criminal activity!



Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.