Despite Amazon’s best efforts, fake, unsafe, and misleading products still find their way to the world’s largest online marketplace.
Here are some of the most notoriously problematic third-party products on Amazon:
Coronavirus “cures” and high-priced masks: Amazon said recently that it has barred the sale of over one million products that falsely claim to cure or provide protection against the Coronavirus. The company has also removed third-party merchants that had engaged in price-gouging on items such as surgical masks, according to Reuters, which cited a 10-pack of N95 surgical masks for $128, up from an average selling price of about $41. Other products that have seen inflated pricing include sanitizing gels.
Fake Apple accessories like AirPods and power adapters: Apple has been trying to fight the fake power adapter problem for years, but it’s still possible to find knockoff Apple products in 2020. Fake Apple AirPods, for example, might be offered one day and then vanish the next, a pattern often seen with fake goods or goods that can mislead customers. The giveaway is the price. Apple AirPods officially start at $159 from Apple. Fake Apple AirPods are a fraction of the price. Recently, tech site Tom’s Guide even did a review of fake Apple AirPods.
Footwear: This is a problem on many online resellers sites in many countries but Amazon stands out because of its size. In September, the American Apparel & Footwear Association recommended that the U.S. trade office “flag some of Amazon's websites as ‘notorious markets’ for their proliferation of counterfeit goods,” according to a report from Retail Dive. Amazon responded to this in an Oct. 15, 2019 letter saying that in 2018 they invested over $400 million in personnel and employed over 5,000 to fight fraud and abuse including counterfeiting.
Fake batteries: A Chinese man who lives in Los Angeles was arrested in December by federal agents alleging he sold $23.8 million worth of counterfeit laptop batteries on websites such as Amazon and eBay over a period of several years, according to a local CBS report. Many low-quality batteries sold on Amazon and other resellers sites are counterfeit, according to a report from The Atlantic last year.
Dietary supplements: Amazon warned last year that dietary supplements could be fake via a letter sent to some customers telling them to stop using certain nutritional supplements “immediately” and to throw them out, according to a report from Wired. Nutritional supplements are notoriously dicey because they’re loosely regulated and don’t require approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Amazon did not reply to a request for comment but the company addressed some of these issues in a blog post last year.
“We invest significant resources to protect our customers and have built robust programs designed to ensure products offered for sale in our store are safe and compliant. We want customers to shop with confidence and if ever a customer has a concern, they can contact our customer service team, and we will investigate,” the company said.