Hello, friends! Yikes…it’s been a while since we wrote. Things have been rolling along pretty steadily this year, with the exception of a months-long outage of our rubber bottles tips…which was terrible. We are glad that is over! Another interesting activity for our team this summer has been…fighting pirates. Well, at least that is what we like to call our attempts to track the numerous fake sites and listings that have popped up, claiming to sell our feeders at rock-bottom prices. This issue has made us more aware of what the artisan community in general has to grapple with in this internet age. The problem of counterfeit listings is rampant, as documented by the New York Times in 2020. In light of this sad news, here are some tips on how to spot a counterfeit Item for sale.
What does this matter to you?
While pirating goods is an ethical problem that undermines the artisan community, it also effects you. Our concern here isn’t just out of self-interest, or even merely concern for the artisan community in general. In a world of internet scams and cheap knock-offs, it is important for consumers to know how to protect themselves and avoid low-quality counterfeit items. Our eyes have been opened this year to how many counterfeits are out there, and how important it is to recognize them.
Tips for protecting your purchases
So, how can you better know spot a counterfeit item for sale? Here are three general categories to check, with a few extra details for each one:
- Check reviews (by far the most telling test).
- Are there any reviews? While everyone has to start somewhere, a lack of reviews on the listing for a popular product is the number one sign of a fake that has just been listed.
- How many reviews are there? If you’re comparing what seem to be identical products, and one has two reviews while the other has 200, the one with higher reviews is likely to be the original one.
- Are the reviews good? This is pretty self-explanatory, but, all the same, make sure you pay attention to what other shoppers have experienced!
- Read the description. This isn’t a foolproof test, as may counterfeit listings will also have the original description cut-and-pasted onto the fake listing. However, more often than not, we have found that the descriptions can be telling.
- Does it match the product? In our experience, most pirates seem to have a standard description that they use for all feeders they are listing. We have found knock-off listings of our feeders that say they are for all kinds of different birds, and recommend all kinds of different food to go with the feeder (like birdseed or jelly, which…don’t work, even if you just look at the picture).
- Does it sound like the author is familiar with the product? Very similar to the last sub-point, it’s important to see if the author of the description sounds like they know this product distinctly. Do they describe its features and functions properly? Do they talk about unique attributes of the materials used, or any functionality details?
- Evaluate the price.
- If the product is claimed to be handcrafted, does the price reflect quality materials and and an hourly wage for someone making this product by hand?
- Is the price significantly lower than the creator’s website? That’s always tempting, but a huge red flag!
Remember to shop smart and small!
These are just a few quick tips on how to spot a counterfeit item for sale, but we hope they are helpful to you in this world of online shopping! It is no fun at all to purchase a product with beautiful photos, only to receive something that looks only vaguely similar and starts to fall apart within days. Remember to shop smart and support small businesses!