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December 9, 2019

Buyer Beware This Christmas

Jennifer Baker

Everyone loves a good deal, especially during the holidays. What a few consumers may not know is how easily counterfeit goods are being marketed to them.

In the new Netflix docuseries Broken Makeup Mayhem, consumers follow law enforcement, makeup brands and consumers thru the world of counterfeit cosmetics. It is shocking to learn how easily goods are made, marketed and sold to consumers thinking they are purchasing many popular brands.

Every Facebook user has seen the ads for makeup and clothing that show in user feeds as sponsored. The ads typically have pictures of a Kylie Jenner Lip Kit, sought after designer legging or other clothing item and a link to purchase. A quick glance of the comments will usually have a user noting this is not the designer site and instead a counterfeit one using stolen pictures with a link to purchase knock-off items.

Even large internet sellers like Amazon, Alibaba and eBay are not immune from counterfeit items being sold on their websites. Scammers can set up shop and sell many thousands of items before they are found and taken down by the site host.  With the advent of third-party sellers on many large internet products it is a buyer beware market.

Numerous popular “indie” brands as well as popular large brand companies, spend many man hours finding, stopping and working to shut down labs where the counterfeit items are made. For some small brands it is nearly impossible to find all the sites selling knock-offs as the genuine product. Some have even hired law enforcement operatives in China, where most of the counterfeit makeup is made. They desire to seek out and gather evidence on labs producing illegally to help with prosecution and hopefully shut down labs, where at best you receive a poor copy of a popular item. Worst case scenario, users can get skin infections, red eye and risk permanent damage.  Using items produced in dirty labs with possibly incorrect materials used that were never intended for use in makeup can be discovered.

One consumer in the docuseries told her experience of purchasing a Kylie lip kit from eBay only to find when she received and applied the product, it contained super glue which sealed her lips together. In a panic, she was able to find on a Google search the practice of using super glue in counterfeit lip products. Thankfully she learned how to break the seal on her lips and end the terrifying experience.

Consumers are urged to purchase directly from reputable online sellers. Many popular “indie” brands sell only thru their brand website. The few who do sell on third party sites, will advise on their own social media where products can be purchased so buyers know they are receiving genuine products and not counterfeits.

Consumers ultimately have the power to end knock-off sales by voting with their wallet and avoiding counterfeit items being sold.

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