While most people think of purses, shoes, and other fashion garments when they think of "counterfeit," the truth is every industry is affected by counterfeit products including the toy industry.
E-commerce platforms like Amazon make it especially easy for consumers to inadvertently purchase a counterfeit product because e-commerce platforms don’t verify the authenticity of the products sold on their platforms. In fact, when a counterfeit seller wishes to add a fake product to Amazon's platform they can use the exact same product information and product images as the authentic seller making it virtually impossible for a buyer to know which product they are purchasing.
Our goal is to provide our customers with the best quality products. This means products that are made with high quality materials, are non-toxic and adhere to high safety standards. In order to achieve this goal, we verify that we're offering our customers only authentic products.
A counterfeit product isn't just a cheaply made product. Below are some of the many concerns consumers should be aware of when it comes to counterfeit products.
Counterfeit products may contain toxic materials.
Products are generally priced a certain way because of the cost of manufacturing that product. In order to produce and sell a product at half the cost, it’s likely a manufacturer would have to cut many corners. The counterfeit version is likely to use low-grade or unregulated materials like metals, plastics, fabrics and paints that could be contaminated with heavy metals, phthalates, bisphenols and more.
Counterfeit products are not tested for safety.
Open marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Facebook do not have ANY legal responsibility for the products sold on their platform. This means any toy, book, or household product you purchase from counterfeit sellers can be sold without safety-testing or authentic safety certifications.
As part of an investigation, a counterfeit version of the Doona Car Seat Stroller was purchased on Amazon by CNN and taken to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute for testing. In a 30 mph crash test, the car seat failed to meet the basic standards set by US regulators and shattered into pieces on impact.
Counterfeits are bad for the environment.
With little regard to manufacturing and production standards, counterfeit products pollute the air, waterways and health of factory workers. They also contribute an enormous amount of waste into landfills every year.
Counterfeit products may lead to loss of money at best or your identity at worst.
If you’re unhappy with your purchase, chances are the online seller will be gone and trading under a new name before you have time to address the issue. The worst part: they will be gone with your name, contact details, and other personal information.
Counterfeits fund crime syndicates.
Another area to consider when purchasing a counterfeit product is where your money is going. Sadly, it’s potentially funding a crime syndicate that traffics children, drugs, and guns. We generally purchase with worries about chemicals and safety for ourselves, but by buying counterfeits we may also be supporting exploitation and other forms of organized crime.
Counterfeits damage the economy.
By purchasing a counterfeit product, you’re unknowingly denying a tax-paying company the chance to provide jobs that increase the value of the economy. You’re also most likely supporting a company that does not pay fair wages to its own workers.
With counterfeit sellers using brand photography, logos and descriptions, it is increasingly difficult to determine if you're purchasing an authentic product. Below are a few things that should raise red flags, and remember, if it's too good to be true, it's most likely counterfeit.
Verify the seller's information by checking their email address and location.
Do the reviews look and sound authentic?
Compare the price you see to the manufacturers website. Does it look similar? (If it’s too good to be true, it most likely is!)
Are there spelling and grammatical mistakes?
Do they advertise any certifications or safety standards?
Many of the toy companies we work with do not allow third party selling on e-commerce platforms. Not all the time, but many times you can check the company's website for a list of approved resellers. For example, here we are listed as an approved seller for Connetix Tiles:
Hopefully this post will help you avoid purchasing a fraudulent product whether it's a toy or something else.