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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , retail,   

    Are counterfeits on Amazon a problem? 

    Are counterfeits on Amazon a problem?

    The other day, we posted about several scams that are targeting Amazon shoppers. The scams we mentioned all take place outside of Amazon. That’s not to say that there aren’t scams happening within Amazon. While Amazon is not directly responsible for this particular scam, they are said to be taking measures to combat the problem. What we’re talking about is counterfeits of brand name goods that are being sold through third-party vendors on Amazon. This isn’t the first problem Amazon has had with its third-party stores. Previously, there was an issue of some third-party vendors selling items that had been thrown in the trash.

    Fox Business is reporting that Amazon is getting more serious about cracking down on cheap knock-offs of name brands being sold on their platform. These counterfeits have come at a cost for Amazon as some name brands have refused to sell their products on Amazon because of the number of counterfeits being sold. Many of these counterfeits include such brands as Apple, Nike, Under Armour and Sony. Amazon has even faced a number of lawsuits over the number of counterfeits being sold. Since then Amazon has launched a number of programs to help rod their platform of counterfeits and have even enlisted the help of some well-known name brands.

    So what can we as consumers do to avoid buying counterfeits? When shopping on Amazon be aware of prices that are too low for the product in question. Read the Amazon reviews of the seller to see if they have a reputation for selling knock-offs. Be wary of pictures on the item page that are blurry or ill-defined. And if the seller wants you to contact them before you purchase the item, not only could it be a counterfeit product but it could potentially be a scam as well.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , dumspter diving, retail, trash, Wall Street Journal   

    Are your Amazon shipments delivered from the dumpster? 

    Are your Amazon shipments delivered from the dumpster?

    An untold number of people have probably ordered their Christmas presents from Amazon this year. However, did you know that not all the products on Amazon are actually sold by Amazon? Around half of all the products sold on Amazon are sold by third-party sellers. Some of these sellers are well-known companies who see Amazon as an additional venue for their products. Some sellers are operating out of their home. While many of these home sellers are offering products that have nothing wrong with them, some sellers have procured their stock through less than ethical means.

    Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an expose detailing how there are many Amazon sellers who source their stock by digging through trash. Many of these so-called dumpster divers raid the trash bins of known retailers to claim whatever products they can clean up and sell on Amazon. These can often include food and medicinal items. The WSJ was able to find items in the dumpster of a Trader Joe’s which they cleaned up and listed for sale on Amazon. They also quickly bought the items themselves to make sure no consumers bought the items. The orders went through as if the items were brand new.

    The problem with this practice besides the obvious sanitation issue is that since Amazon does all the shipping with its branded packaging it appears like these items are coming from Amazon directly. Some of the vendors even list these reclaimed products as new. After the WSJ published their report, Amazon said that they have changed their policy about items that have come from the trash. However, what kind of oversight is going into this new policy? How will Amazon be able to detect if third-party vendors are selling items taken from the trash?

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , retail   

    Homeland Security warns of counterfeits for Christmas 

    Homeland Security warns of counterfeits for Christmas

    If you’re looking for a very special Christmas present like a Louis Vuitton bag or a Rolex watch, you have to traverse through the minefield that are counterfeit goods. More often than not, when buying a well-known luxury brand item you’ll have to deal more with fakes then you will the genuine article. Besides being possibly ripped off, the high-end counterfeit goods market has been linked to every type of criminal activity from human trafficking to organized crime and funding terrorism. In the past year alone, the Department of Homeland Security has confiscated over $500 million in counterfeit goods.

    DHS has issued a warning about these phony products flooding the market during the holiday shopping season. They say to beware of websites offering deep discounts for normally expensive items as that’s a good indicator that the products are knock offs. A number of these sites offering these goods could also be just a front to gain your financial information and not even send you a product. DHS also wants people to know that knowingly buying a counterfeit product is also a federal offense and could land not only the seller but the buyer in jail as well.

    If you’re looking to buy these products first-hand, then only deal with reputable merchants and keep all the documentation that comes with it including receipts and confirmation emails. If you’re buying these items second-hand, any person selling these items should have all the documentation that goes along with them as they’re a common form of confirmation of the item’s authenticity. Some second-hand markets even have authenticity programs for high-end goods in order to try to prevent fraud. And while it may be fun to own a knock-off as a form of entertainment, keep in mind that buying one is not only illegal but you never really know where your money is going or what it’s funding.

    So, to keep everybody safe and happy during the holiday season, only buy genuine.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , retail,   

    How to avoid online Black Friday scams 

    How to avoid online Black Friday scams

    In the past, we’ve advised against going to brick and mortar retailers on Black Friday. Not just for safety reasons but also because many retailers engage in misleading business practices by using limited stock to try o get you to buy more expensive items. Usually, these so-called doorbuster deals can be found for the same price or lower later into the holiday shopping season. In the past few years, we’ve advised shopping online rather than braving the crowds on Black Friday. However, even online Black Friday shopping comes with its own pitfalls.

    While many of the big-name online retailers are safe to shop through, scammers will try to trick you into believing you’re using one of those retailers, but it reality you may not be. Scammers will send out phishing emails using the actual logos of famous shopping sites but will leave a link in the email that will take you to a phony site that resembles the real thing. They’ll then try to gain your financial information for possible identity theft and other potential abuses. Along the same vein, scammers will pose as retailers and send you an email asking you to download something in order to get a deal. This will instead infect your device with malware which could allow bad actors to access your device remotely and steal as much information as they want from it. Always go directly to a retailer’s website rather than clicking on anything in an email.

    As the video above mentions, if at all possible, use a credit card over a debit card when making purchases. While both debit and credit cards offer protection against scam purchases, credit cards have better protections and won’t take any money directly from your bank balance. Also, keep an eye on both your debit and credit card accounts to make sure that no unauthorized purchases have been made on them. Many of these services can be set up to send you a notification every time the account is used. While the notifications may be a bit annoying, they can go a long way in preventing fraud on your accounts.

    And as always, keep in mind that gift cards are the currency of scammers and you could be ripped off in a number of ways when buying gift cards. You can check our previous post here about what to look out for when buying gift cards.

    Once again, we wish you a happy and headache-free holiday season.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on November 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , award scam, business owner, , , retail,   

    That business award may just be a fake (and other scams) 

    That business award may just be a fake (and other scams)

    Today, we end the week the same way we began it, with a roundup of scams that have turned up across the country. As always, just because the scam isn’t currently happening in your town doesn’t mean it won’t.

    The first scam is kind of an unusual one. A woman in Highlands Ranch, Colorado owns a dog training business. She received an email from someone claiming to be from the Highlands Ranch Award Program and that she had won an award for being the best dog trainer in the area. To claim a specially engraved plaque all she would need to do is send them $169. When the woman received the plaque it was of dubious quality and the Highlands Ranch Award Program was actually based in New Jersey. As it turns out, shady companies will scan news articles for ‘best of’ lists for business owners they can prey on.

    A number of women in Arkansas have received what look like handwritten greeting cards in the mail congratulating them on their pregnancies. The problem is that a great many of them aren’t pregnant. It turns out that these cards were sent from an online retailer of baby items and the card was actually a coupon. However, some of the women allege that when you enter the coupon code at the retailer’s website the price of shipping became so outrageous that it would wipe out any potential savings. The Better Business Bureau is investigating.

    And lastly, we have a scam that has a neighborhood in San Diego quite concerned. This neighborhood has been having a problem with porch pirates stealing packages from their doorsteps. Now, someone has been going around allegedly posing as an Amazon salesman trying to get residents to install the Amazon Key service in their homes. The real Amazon key allows delivery people to place packages inside the home if instructed. However, Amazon does not sell door to door. Amazon has also confirmed that the man was not an employee of theirs.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , cash, retail, Western Union   

    Amazon accepts cash: What this means for you 

    Amazon accepts cash: What this means for you

    In many ways, we are moving to a cashless society. Whether it’s payment apps like Venmo or cashless banking in general, many consumers no longer carry cash on them. While this is an inevitable outcome with the march of modern technology it does have the consequence of alienating those in our country who may not have access to banking. That’s why it came as a surprise that the nation’s largest online retailer has started to accept cash as a form of payment.

    Amazon has partnered with Western Union to start accepting cash payments for goods sold on Amazon. It works by the customer being issued a QR code once they indicate their intent to pay by cash. The customer can then go to any Western Union outlet, show them the QR code and then pay Amazon with cash. This is somewhat a shocking turn of events for Amazon as previously they wanted to go cash only in their mostly automated Amazon Go stores.

    While this opens up a whole new market for Amazon there is a potential downside to this new enterprise. The first is that many Western Union outlets are in the brick and mortar locations of some of Amazon’s competitors. This could lead to these competitors no longer doing business with Amazon which in turn would leave less Western Union outlets which many consumers depend on. The other problem is that we can already see the potential for this service being abused by scammers. One example is when scammers try to get you to pay for something using gift cards. Now, they could possibly use the Amazon QR codes instead of gift cards for their scams.

    While this is great for those who live on a cash-only basis, they should always be on the lookout for the potential pitfalls of such a service.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , retail,   

    Would you trust WalMart in your home? 

    Would you trust WalMart in your home?

    There used to be a time in our country where home grocery delivery was commonplace. However, that was before we started moving to the suburbs and usually at least one person was home most of the time. Now, with as busy as we all are we can’t afford to have someone home all the time to wait for a delivery person. That’s why a number of companies are trying out home delivery programs where you don’t have to be home to get your groceries. The nation’s leading retailer Walmart is now one of those companies testing this option.

    Recently. WalMart announced they’ll be testing a home delivery option where a delivery person will deliver groceries into your home if you’re not there. That would require a customer to have a smart lock that would allow a delivery person into your home to place the groceries directly into your fridge. The test program will be rolling out in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Vero Beach, Florida. Walmart says that delivery people will have worked with WalMart for at least a year and will be equipped with body cameras so you could watch the delivery remotely.

    If you’re uncomfortable with a stranger in your home, WalMart has said that this attitude among consumers will change. They cite rideshare services as an example as consumers used to be wary of getting into other people’s cars but that attitude has since relaxed. They believe home delivery like this will also have a similar attitude shift. However, with ridesharing, you’re getting into a driver’s car. Letting someone into your home, especially when no one is there, is a whole other level of trust that consumers may not be willing to give.

    Would you be comfortable allowing a delivery person into your home under WalMart’s proposed security measures? Please let us know in the comments below.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Flexa, retail, SPEDN   

    Is cryptocurrency ready for retail? 

    Is cryptocurrency ready for retail?

    Even with its volatile fluctuations in value, it seems that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are here to stay. It seems that cryptocurrency is no longer just the method of transaction on the dark web as it continues to gain more mainstream acceptance. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have long dreamed of a day where they can use their Bitcoins or any other number of cryptocurrencies, to purchase everyday items such as their morning coffee or a pizza. That dream is now becoming a little bit closer to reality.

    15 retailers in America have signed up for an app called SPEDN that is said to allow users to spend their cryptocurrency in brick and mortar stores. Some of the retailers that will begin accepting cryptocurrency are Bed Bath and Beyond, Ulta, Barnes & Noble, Baskin Robbins, Crate & Barrel, Express, GameStop, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, and Regal Cinemas. SPEDN is attached to the Flexa global payments network.

    However, what remains to be seen is how these retailers will be able to keep their cryptocurrency stockpile secure. Retailers are not the most secure companies as a number of them have been subject to massive data breaches that exposed customers’ information. Since cryptocurrency has been known to be stolen through nefarious electronic means will consumers turn against cryptocurrency once a large amount of it has been stolen from one of these retailers? While a good idea in concept maybe cryptocurrency isn’t ready for retail just yet until the security aspect of it can be addressed.

     
  • Geebo 10:02 am on November 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , retail,   

    The hassle of Black Friday isn’t worth it 

    The hassle of Black Friday isn't worth it

    In case you missed yesterday’s post on Thanksgiving safety you can read it here. One aspect of safety that we didn’t discuss yesterday was the specter of Black Friday. Traditionally the day after Thanksgiving sees a number of retail outlets offering sales that they’ll tell you are too good to pass up, but in reality, you can.

    As we’ve pointed out in years prior a great number of Black Friday deals the retailers are offering are nothing more than predatory business practices. In too many cases the stock these retailers have on Black Friday are limited on purpose in order to try to get you to buy more expensive products. These same items that are supposed doorbuster deals can often be found for the same sale price later on in the holiday season. That’s not even taking into account that a lot of these items can be found for better prices online than in the stores. This way you don’t have to risk injury or inconvenience by diving into the hordes of other consumers trying to get a deal that doesn’t benefit them in the long run. There are also many other scams abound on Black Friday.

    While Black Friday shopping incidents have been down over the past couple of years, it still isn’t worth your time to camp out in front of a big box store in order to get an item that you can safely purchase anywhere. Thanksgiving is a holiday intended for us to spend time with family and friends and give thanks for what we’re fortunate enough to have in life. The crass consumerism that the retail stores push on us by opening as early as Thanksgiving Night is an affront to all of us who deserve more than to waste our time competing with each other for a cheap gadget. Stay home on Black Friday, your time is better spent with loved ones and that deal will be back around sooner than you think.

     
  • Geebo 9:31 am on May 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , banned, retail, returns   

    Amazon banning customers for too many returns 

    Amazon banning customers for too many returns

    Amazon offers a lot of incentives to get customers to try to use their service extensively. For example, Amazon offers its Prime membership to its users so the customer can have free shipping for the length of their membership, usually paid in an annual fee. Another one of those features was Amazon’s easy return policy. However, while Amazon wants you to order as many items as possible they’ll send out for ‘free’, don’t send back too many or you may not be an Amazon customer anymore.

    Reports came out this week that Amazon was banning customers who made excessive returns. Amazon claims it’s to prevent fraudulent returns but many customers say they were banned even though they made reasonable returns. Like too many tech companies, Amazon relies on an algorithm to identify potential abusers and only worries about false positives if the banned customer calls to complain. Apparently, Amazon lives by the edict that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

    Let’s be honest, mistakes happen in all retail spaces. Sometimes you get the wrong order or the product wasn’t exactly what you imagined when you received it. Now let’s translate Amazon’s policy to brick and mortar space. For example, Walmart has a very generous return policy. You can almost return a half-eaten fish stick to Walmart without a receipt and still get a refund. Now imagine you returned too many things to WalMart and you were not only banned from your local store but also from all the other Walmarts in the country.

    Amazon would do well to remember who it is that allows them to make all those billions of dollars in profit before customers start leaving their service without being banned.

     
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