Amazon's problems with dishonest marketplace sellers passing off knock-offs as the real thing has just gone from bad to worse.
The sandal-maker Birkenstock has taken the counterfeit problem to heart, and it has decided to pull its merchandise from Amazon and forbid any retailer from selling in Amazon's marketplace.
Plagued by counterfeits and unauthorized selling on the online shopping site, the sandals company will no longer supply products to Amazon in the U.S. starting Jan. 1. Additionally, Birkenstock won't authorize third-party merchants to sell on the site, according to a letter the company sent to several thousand retail partners on July 5.
"The Amazon marketplace, which operates as an 'open market,' creates an environment where we experience unacceptable business practices which we believe jeopardize our brand," Kahan wrote from the company's U.S. headquarters in Novato, California. "Policing this activity internally and in partnership with Amazon.com has proven impossible."
It's unclear whether Amazon has a unique problem with fraudulent sellers or if they're simply the whipping boy du jour, although there does seem to have been an increase in complaints ever since Amazon started working more closely with Chinese companies.
Obviously not all sellers are bad, but last week's story has helped expose some particularly outrageous examples of fraud. For example, here's a mug which doesn't quite live up to the promise:
oh my god pic.twitter.com/QqQXxyHg2M
— BIG BULLY (@boissongazeuse) April 10, 2016
And then there's this one:
Tried to buy a doormat and here's what arrived: a piece of foam with a photo of the thing I wanted printed on it. pic.twitter.com/sqK7vgH7Ii
— Emily Heller (@MrEmilyHeller) July 20, 2016
Those remind me of bad experiences which put me off of shopping on Ebay, only now it's happening with Amazon.
And the thing about that mug is that it was sold by a marketplace seller which is still doing business on Amazon.com. I checked its products and many had a lot of 1-star reviews which complained about the quality. The goods might not be counterfeit, but they are cheap knock-offs and customers aren't happy.
So while the mug's seller might not be committing fraud, it still stands as an example of how Amazon is embracing crap in its pursuit of profits.
So yes, this is a sign of the problem going from bad to worse.