While the business of online shopping sites zooming up so are the complaints about fake or duplicate products being sold on these platforms. Pritee Shah from Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC) has even started an online petition requesting Amazon and all other e-portals to stop selling fake products and have a product recall policy.
An online petition filed by the consumer activist has this to say: A customer purchased Lakme Eyeconic Kajal Pack of two, from the Amazon portal in March 2017. “The product was found to be fake as was admitted by the manufacturer Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL). Sublime, a seller on Amazon also admitted that the product it has sold/ sent is fake. A total of 340 customers purchased Lakme Eyeconic Kajal from Amazon seller Sublime. Amazon has refunded money to only seven customers, who complained. The Lakme Eyeconic Kajal bought from Amazon seller Sublime by these 340 customers could be fake. It could contain ingredients hazardous to your health. Are you okay with that? Obviously not. So, take action, join us in an effort to protect your Consumer Rights,” the petition says.
The Internet is being widely used these days for online shopping. But it is like watching a movie where everything you see on screen is not always as it might seem. From a girl whose motto is ‘Netflix and chill’ all day to the grandfather who is unable to walk, this no pollution platform suits ones daily needs at any hour of the day. Many online sellers take advantage of this by employing a range of online tricks and fake promises to lure people to conduct fraudulent transactions, present fraudulent solicitations to prospective victims or to transmit the proceeds of fraud to financial institutions or to others connected with the scheme. Millennial’s are often considered tech-savvy and Internet-literate. We assume we know all the ins and outs of the digital world. And yet, plenty of us fall for the simplest of online scams.
Online frauds are radically different from ones typically used by brick-and-mortar businesses. Here is a checklist to help you avoid losses in a situation where you cannot see the other party to the deal and identifying authentic sellers is all important.
(a) Consumers must check the URL of the seller. Scamsters are adept at producing counterfeit websites with a minute change in the web address to make it seem very similar to the original website. An online consumer was duped while shopping at nikebetterwold.com with the ‘r’ missing from ‘world’ as used in nikebetterworld.com. It led to him getting a fake product.
(b) Understand difference between a domain name and URL. For Instance, http://en.wikipedia.org/ is a URL whereas ‘Wikipedia.org’ the domain name. Frauds occur when people do not understand the difference. There is a message spreading on WhatsApp that offers Redmi Note 4 mobile for just Rs499 with a link http://amazon.note4-499rs-sale.in. In this link, the domain is ‘note4-499rs-sale.in’ and not ‘amazon.com’ or ‘amazon.in’. Most buyers fail to notice or understand the difference and fall prey to spams or spurious sales. This domain has nothing to do with Amazon. In fact, note4-499rs-sale.in is registered by one Rahul Kumar from Delhi.
(c) International or local brands, which partner with online shopping sites to sell their products should have a scrutiny system to verify that only the partnered sites are selling their products and not anyone else. For instance, Gurgaon-based Shopclues, which claims to be the one of the country’s fastest growing e-commerce companies, was taken to court for selling fakes of L’Oréal, Tommy Hilfiger, Skullcandy and Ray-Ban products.
(d) Try purchasing from sites (e.g. Jabong) which have a one product one-brand policy. These sites have gone through the pains of getting quotations of the same product from many official distributors and then selected the best bargain to be sold by them. Sites, which give a chance to multiple sellers to sell the same product on the same platform, can attract cunning sellers who cheat consumers to earn quick money.
(e) One should shop wisely and not fall prey to attractive discounts and offers. Remember, there are deals, good deals, great deals and amazing deals. And then there are too-good-to-be-true deals. It is the last one that one needs to be careful about as chances of it being a bogus are high. For example an image of Dior bag worth Rs1 lakh, can be used to sell a fake bag for mere Rs5,000 or a Kylie Jenner lipkit worth Rs3,000 can be bought only Rs250 (off course counterfeit one).
(f) When buying a high-end brand, video tutorials on YouTube should be checked to distinguish the authentic from the fake or duplicate. There are many videos by manufacturers or fashion and tech bloggers to educate the public. Also, verify product features, look, packaging, labels, and logo placement by going to the brand website to ensure a safe choice.