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The Dangers of Purchasing Products From Unauthorized Retailers

Shelves of beauty products
August 10, 2017 Reviewed by Marta 1 Comment

Not long ago, an irate customer — and first-timer to the Truth In Aging store — emailed to say that she had bought a body scrub from us at full price only to find it was being sold for much less on Amazon. A quick online search revealed that it was being sold cut-price on several online sites, and I quickly contacted the brand’s owner. Why am I sharing this with you? Well, because there are some lessons and warnings for all of us when cosmetic products are deeply discounted by unauthorized sellers. It’s called diversion and is when the sale of products is outside authorized distribution channels.

But first, I’ll finish up the story of the scrub. The brand owner had agreed to include them in a free beauty box distributed by a third party. They were hoping that bloggers would review their product and help get the word out. Instead, some of them took the free products and put them on sale on eBay, Amazon and their own websites at a steep markdown. The result was that an independent brand’s product and sales were seriously undermined and anyone — including me — with stock on their shelves were forced to sell them at a loss.

While everyone is rightly looking for a bargain, it is worth bearing in mind that a too-good-to-be-true offer may be stolen goods or from entities who are unscrupulously putting freebies on the market. This hurts the brand and prevents authorized resellers from doing legitimate business. What’s more, you are putting yourself at risk. Who is to say these products are actually going through the appropriate channels to make sure they are safe and effective to slather and lather on your skin?

Here are some important reasons to be cautious of such a bargain from black market beauty companies:

1. Products are being sold by entities which may have no relationship with the producer of the goods. Therefore, they may come from unsanitary warehouses or distribution centers.

2. Products may be fake, made with additional ingredients, watered-down or tampered with in some other way (e.g. used or handled unproperly — ick!).

3. The product may be close to or even past its expiration date. In general, commercial cosmetics are formulated to have a shelf life of two to three years. However, some very natural formulas may last only six months. Some, but not all, cosmetics have a sell-by stamp.

4. The product you receive may not be what you thought you were buying. This could be a result of a lack of understanding of the products that the unauthorized dealer is selling, or a lack of quality controls.

5. There will not be a qualified person to answer your product questions or concerns.

6. Warranties, guarantees and return policies will likely not be honored.

Online sellers (some authorized by the manufacturer; many more not) have low-cost, direct access to consumers through their own websites and online marketplaces such as alibaba.com, eBay, and amazon.com. These marketplaces all permit unauthorized sellers, and it is shocking to me that Amazon can enjoy such commercial dominance on the back of stolen goods. Some policing does take place on eBay where they will respond to complaints and have a take down policy for sellers offering counterfeits.

However, Amazon (in my experience) is very poor on following up on complaints regarding unauthorized dealers. Goods on Amazon are rarely counterfeits, but they often arrived on Amazon as a result of leaks in the supply chain (the proverbial “it fell off the back of a truck”) and is only too happy to promote whoever offers the lowest price. The lesson here: Be cautious when a quick online search turns up a top-rated product at a steep price cut. 

  • August 11, 2017

    by dino

    One of the most effective ways to combat the fake markets is to mass serialise the original goods and empower the customers to check the originality and other product’s characteristics. Serialization is maybe the most powerful and cost effective anti-counterfeit solution, the one offered by MY-VALIDACTOR are immediately available, easy to implement and at a cost near to zero.

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