The Cutting Edge

The official blog of Knife Depot

How Amazon Profits Off Counterfeits

Fake knives are a big concern. If you buy from eBay or some less than stellar sites like Alibaba, there’s a fair chance that the knife you get is a fake.

But, if you were to buy a knife from a site like Amazon, it has to be real, right? Not exactly.

We have had a lot of complaints about the way Amazon does business over the years. For example, earlier this year, we wrote about how the massive online store restricts the sale of legal knives to some people. Back in 2013, we also wrote about how sites like Amazon have a leg up selling knives against smaller businesses such as ours thanks to Google.

But, one of our biggest complaints with Amazon has been the fact that they are plagued with counterfeits. Now, a recent story reveals that Amazon not only sells counterfeits frequently but benefits when fakes are sold and does little to rectify the problem.

Amazon ‘Thrives’ from Fakes

An article in the Los Angeles Times reported on fake products, including fake charging cables, and how they’ve affected legitimate businesses.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Not only has the platform avoided any serious backlash for allowing the sale of fake goods, it’s actually thrived from it, say more than two dozen brand owners, e-commerce consultants, attorneys, investigators and public policy experts.

Counterfeiters help pressure brands to sell their wares on the site. Companies that avoid Amazon risk letting counterfeiters determine how their goods appear to customers on the most influential e-commerce site — ceding control, for instance, of which pictures are used to promote a product and which colors and sizes are offered.

The spread of cheaper knockoffs can also put pressure on authentic sellers and brands to lower their prices, helping Amazon win more customers.

The company has resisted calls to do more to police its site and address claims by businesses that they are losing millions in lost sales and reputational harm, according to experts.

One of the biggest culprits is the third-party sellers on Amazon. When you buy something off Amazon, a third-party seller will often fulfill the orders, but they may be selling fakes. Even when Amazon itself fulfills the order, the products in their inventory may be fake without them knowing about it.

Of course, Amazon itself says counterfeiting is not an issue.

Spyderco Cautions Buying From Amazon

Fake Spyderco PM2 from Amazon customer

Even Spyderco warns about buying from Amazon. Spyderco Marketing Administrator Kristi Hunter wrote this on the forum a couple of years ago in response to someone’s question about whether a knife bought off Amazon was real.

I wanted to jump in to clarify something in the interest of being transparent. With regards to purchasing through Amazon; yes, Amazon is an authorized Spyderco dealer, but we cannot guarantee authenticity due to their policy of co-mingling inventory with third party marketplace vendors. Even something purchased “from Amazon” and “shipped by Amazon.” This applies to any product, not just ours. Since they co-mingle inventory with third party vendors when an order is pulled and shipped we can’t guarantee that what you are receiving is from inventory shipped by us to Amazon. Amazon does have a strong return policy though so if you ever receive anything suspect – again any product, not just ours – be sure to get in contact with Amazon regarding your concerns.

I admit that I still buy things off Amazon, but I do my best to buy directly from the manufacturer of goods and would never buy certain things from the ecommerce giant, especially knives.

Amazon Reviews Warn of Fakes

If you want to see just how rampant the problem is, go to the reviews for popular Spyderco products. For example, in the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 review sections, you see an alarming number of reviews claiming to have received fakes or wondering whether they have fakes.

Here’s just one review:

It makes you wonder just how many people are happily walking around with a fake knife in their pocket from Amazon without even knowing it.

So, what’s the best way to avoid getting a fake knife from Amazon? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — either buy from a dedicated knife dealer or go directly through the manufacturer.

For some companies like Spyderco, there are MAP policies in place, so you have to buy a knife for the same price wherever you go. This allows smaller businesses to stay afloat in the face of ecommerce giants like Amazon.

While it’s possible to get a fake from even a reputable knife site (returns may be fake sometimes), you’re more likely to get a legitimate product while supporting a small business.

If you need some more tips on how to spot a counterfeit knife, check out our post here.


Tim

Timothy Martinez Jr. is the community director for Knife Depot and the editor of The Cutting Edge. If you have any questions or ideas for The Cutting Edge, you can contact him at Tim@knife-depot.com.
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2 Comments

  1. My first “spyderco” was a fake that was gifted to me from a family member. I assumed they ordered it off of amazon. Spyderco offered me 45% rebate for a new knife when I sent mine in for repair. Spyderco is an amazing company and it is shameful that people do things like make knock off products from a respectable business.

  2. Because of the amount of counterfeit merchandise on Amazon I have stopped buying anything from Amazon.

    I’m not saying everything is fake or counterfeit but I work hard for my money and refuse to throw it away on something I cannot be 100% certain is not fake

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