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Knockoff products abound online

Posted by Mitch Lipka  March 19, 2013 01:59 PM

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What used to be a street-corner-level problem of getting fake Rolexes or copycat Coach handbags has grown into a far larger problem.

Instead of just avoiding the guy on the corner, it’s now a game of being really sure of who you buy from online. Some sites selling fakes are so bad they’re laughable. But, these days, it isn’t all that hard to hijack real product images and maybe even find someone who can write in English well enough to make the site seem legit.

Just ask Sheila Perrault of Tyngsborough. Her son was shopping for a pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers and came upon the site AirJordan5FireRed2013.com. While the web address alone might make some suspicious, the photos on the site are authentic and the information seemed credible. Nothing really tips you off that the site is in China.

So, $120 later a box arrived and “you can tell they were phony Air Jordans,” Perrault said. She complained to the Better Business Bureau.

“They’re one of hundreds of knock-off websites out of China,” said Paula Fleming, vice president of the Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont. “Whether it’s shoes, jerseys, etc., these sites typically do deliver the products, however they lack the expected quality the consumers hope for.”

You might get seconds, but usually you just get a cheap imitation. Perrault tried to get her money back and received an email explaining that they’ll give back 30 percent of the purchase price if she kept the shoes or “if you return the products, the shipping cost is too high, and the procedure will take a long time. Pls thinking it over.”

Perrault wants the site shut down. An email to the site went unanswered.

So, before you buy online from a company that isn’t familiar to you, search to see if there are any complaints, look in the Better Business Bureau’s database, and go to a web registration look-up site such as Whois.net to see who owns the site and when it was registered.

Other than hoping you can get your credit card company to reverse the transaction, there’s little a US consumer can do if they’ve been taken by a foreign site. It’s best to avoid those street corners altogether.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com

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