Does eBay Have Over 400,000 Counterfeit Items?

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The counterfeiting problem involving goods and services sold or offered on eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) is well documented in the press and policed, to some extent, by the auction company itself. eBay’s efforts to fight the problem fall well short of the mark, at least according to one expert on the matter.

The Counterfeit Report has tracked the problem of online sales of counterfeits for over a decade. It said recently:

The Counterfeit Report received over 2,000 counterfeit products from eBay sellers, representing over 400,000 counterfeit items listed or sold to eBay consumers. During the investigation, eBay publicly admitted to Business Insider to allegations of altering feedback, blocking accounts, changing resolved disputes, overturning refunds and removing counterfeit comments and warnings protecting consumers from dangerous products.

The overall problem has been covered as widely as by The New York Times, CNBC, CNET, Reuters and The Independent. So why does eBay not do more to crack down on the practice? It does, but apparently not in a very proactive way.

Among eBay’s counterattacks on counterfeit products:

Items that bear a company’s official brand name or logo can be listed as long as the products were lawfully made by, for, or with the consent of that company.

We don’t allow replicas, counterfeit items, or unauthorized copies to be listed on eBay. Unauthorized copies may include things that are bootlegged, illegally duplicated, or pirated. These kinds of things may infringe on someone’s copyright or trademark.

eBay’s commitment:

It’s illegal and harmful to the marketplace
Buying a counterfeit is a bad experience for you and the brands you trust
Counterfeits undermine buying trust
It’s bad for honest sellers who deal in authentic merchandise

Also:

If a buyer suspects that an item is counterfeit, and there are strong indicators that the item is counterfeit, we don’t require the buyer to return the item to the seller. The buyer agrees to cooperate with us to ensure the proper disposal of the item. In such instances, we refund the buyer for the full cost of the item and original shipping, and the seller reimburses us for the refund. The buyer may not sell the item on eBay or elsewhere.

Some might argue these are modest responses by an $8.6 billion revenue a year company.

The Counterfeit Report’s conclusion:

eBay buyers are entitled to millions in refunds under eBay’s “Money Back Guarantee” and may not know it, even when eBay knows the buyers purchased a fake product — a product that bears a manufacturer’s registered trademark, but doesn’t even exist in their product line.

While consumers would expect to be notified by eBay® that they may have received a fraudulent, dangerous or deadly counterfeit product and are entitled to an eBay Money Back Guarantee refund.

eBay ought to react and tell the public that these accusations are wildly misleading. They have had years to do so.