SANTA MONICA, CA--(Marketwire - Dec 7, 2012) - As Amazon unveiled its new Kindle FreeTime Unlimited service to draw more children to the Kindle Fire video and game platform, the Consumer Fraud Center called on Amazon to extend the anti-counterfeiting protections afforded the Kindle, but not provided to other products sold on the Amazon site in order to stem the rising use by cybercriminals to sell counterfeit goods to unsuspecting consumers.
"Amazon's sales practices with respect to the Kindle stand in stark contrast to the way the company sells other consumer products and illustrates the lack of willpower keeping Amazon from instituting basic safeguards to protect consumers from fake products," said James Lee, executive director for the Consumer Fraud Center. "Unlike virtually every other consumer product sold on its site, Amazon forbids the sale of 'new' Kindles from anyone other than Amazon, thereby ensuring the authenticity of Kindles being sold."
In fact, counterfeit and gray-market Kindles -- like most other consumer products -- are widely available through Chinese websites such as TaoBao.com and etao.com, Lee said. But while Amazon merchants are allowed to drop ship goods directly to consumers or to Amazon warehouses in the U.S., Europe or China for "fulfillment," Amazon jealously protects its own flagship consumer product creating a significant double standard, Lee added.
"The same exclusive distribution arrangements and logic should apply across the board to many other consumer products, including many that are widely counterfeited," Lee said. "But Amazon steadfastly refuses to extend the same protection it gives to Kindle to any other products, even when manufacturers complain about the glut of counterfeit goods sold through Amazon, including many directly from Amazon warehouses."
The Consumer Fraud Center called on Amazon to institute the following changes:
- Implement the same anti-counterfeiting protections long employed by eBay;
- End the practice of allowing unverified third-parties to use the trademarks and copyrighted material of brand owners without consent;
- Confirm the authenticity of goods when a merchant's sale price (after fees & commissions) is lower than Amazon's own cost; and
- End "drop shipments" of unverified goods to Amazon warehouses directly from China.
"It's the height of hypocrisy that Amazon aggressively protects its own products, but does next to nothing to ensure the same level of protection for other products sold on its site," Lee said. "This almost cavalier attitude shows a reckless disregard for protecting consumers and instead demonstrates Amazon's intent to dominate online shopping at all costs, no matter the harm to consumers, manufacturers or local governments from lost tax revenues."
The Consumer Fraud Center last month gave Amazon Marketplace its highest warning alert because of a recent flood of consumer complaints over counterfeited products. Consumers were most distressed over the perceived authenticity conferred to counterfeiters because of Amazon's allowance for them to utilize its sales, warehousing and distribution systems.
A video news release on the Amazon Fraud Alert is available at http://youtu.be/nqW-qSiLRgg.
The Consumer Fraud Center
The Consumer Fraud Center is dedicated to uncovering the use of legitimate online portals and shopping destinations for the sale of counterfeit and fraudulent consumer goods and products. It relies on its network of activated consumers who submit reports on counterfeit goods sold on websites to create a national database of products searchable by consumers, media and law enforcement. For more information, please visit us at www.consumerfraudcenter.com.