Connecticut Better Business Bureau is warning consumers looking for deep discounts on brand name items that they may end up spending a lot more than they bargained for - but not for genuine items.
According to law enforcement officials, the Internet is being flooded with shoddy knock-offs of luxury items ranging from jewelry to perfume to handbags and sunglasses.
Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, cautions bargain hunters that they could end up with some very expensive junk.
“Consumers can indeed find good deals on some new brand name items and used luxury items. However, if buyers aren’t careful, they may end up with poor quality items or hand over their credit card information and receive nothing at all.”
According to a report by the Department of Homeland Security, the total domestic value of phony merchandise seized during fiscal 2011 was $78.3 million, an amount that would have had a value of $1.11 billion had the goods been legitimate.
Online sites like Craigslist and eBay are hotspots for counterfeit luxury item fraud online, and both offer “buyer beware” warnings. But shady vendors are now setting up their own websites to fool frugal fashion-seekers.
BBB offers the following advice for shopping safely online when looking for deals on designer goods, as well as tips on how to spot a fake:
Always deal with reputable businesses - The number one way to avoid getting cheated when buying luxury goods is to deal with reputable businesses. When in doubt, shoppers can contact the manufacturer and verify which vendors are authorized sellers. Consumers also should check out the business at http://www.bbb.org before making a purchase.
If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is - One of the biggest red flags for knock-off merchandise is an unrealistic price.
Extremely low prices are tempting but not to be believed Paying $100 for a $1000 purse could result in the consumer receiving a poorly manufactured and worthless fake.
Read between the lines - Some websites or online classified ads will go overboard in their description of the item in order to coax buyers’ trust. Overuse of “genuine,”
Check the merchandise - Considering that the brand name is a large part of the motivation for buying a luxury brand, many manufacturers spend considerable time and energy on crafting the physical label. Counterfeiters aren’t usually so meticulous. Shoppers should look for misspelled words and brand names, poorly-sewn logos and labels, etc. Some luxury goods carry an “authenticity label” with a hologram or other security measure.
Know the brand - Different luxury items such as purses, have specific hardware that consumers can rely on to identify a genuine article. Zippers, screws, clasps and stitching are usually very specific for a brand, and the manufacturer often has details on its website explaining what to look for and how to spot a knock-off. Craftsmanship is king for most luxury brands. If the sunglasses frames break in the first week, or if the stitching and seams are ragged and don’t match up on a purse, the items are probably counterfeit.
Consumers who have purchased counterfeit luxury goods can file a complaint online at http://www.bbb.org/
For more consumer tips you can trust, visit http://www.ct.bbb.org/
# # #
Founded in 1928, Connecticut BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. For more advice on finding companies and businesses, start your search with trust at www.bbb.org.