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B.C. Amazon customer fights for refund after buying counterfeit product

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WATCH: B.C. woman shocked to receive counterfeit Amazon order – Feb 2, 2021

A B.C. woman who purchased a counterfeit product on Amazon says she’s frustrated over the difficulty it took to receive a refund from the online retailer.

“They need to do better,” said Lisa Kristmanson.

Back in July 2019, the Richmond resident said she bought a Hyperice Hypervolt cordless handheld massager on Amazon from a third-party seller for $469.99.

When she received the product, Kristmanson said it looked authentic.

“It came in a great package. It looked legit. I opened it up and used it and it was really good,” she said.

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But in May 2020, the product failed.

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“All of a sudden, the smoke did start coming out of the top of it and I thought, ‘I don’t want it to burn up.’ So, I just turned it off and put it away and tried it again and then it fully did not work,” said Kristmanson.

She said she reached out to the official Canadian distributor of the Hyperice massager to have the device repaired under warranty. However, after reviewing her case, the distributer determined the product was counterfeit.

The serial numbers on the bottom of the battery proved the item was fake. Kristmanson said she was told that a legitimate Hyperice Hypervolt has a four-digit serial number that ends in the year it was manufactured.

She then contacted Amazon Canada for a refund and said she was shocked by the response.

“It was disappointing. They just told me, ‘Sorry, there is nothing we can do.'”

Read more: B.C. woman’s $30 online order with a 3rd-party seller on Amazon turns into $436 vehicle bill

Amazon offers an A-to-Z guarantee that allows refund requests up to 90 days after the maximum estimated delivery date.

The company claimed the initial delay in refunding Kristmanson was because her request came more than nine months after she had purchased the product. However, once Consumer Matters reached out on Kristmanson’s behalf, she received an immediate refund for $469.99.

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“Amazon strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit products and we invest heavily in both funds and company energy to ensure our policy is followed,” the company said in a statement. “The seller involved in this transaction was removed by Amazon in August 2019. We have refunded the customer for the full purchase amount.”

Counterfeiters are exploiting the online marketplace and consumers are paying the price.

According to a 2019 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, trade in counterfeit and pirated goods made up 3.3 per cent of global trade, and a 2019 Amazon annual report to investors acknowledges how the online platform is impacted by sellers’ fraudulent or unlawful activities.

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“What’s happened with Amazon because of its scale and scope (is) it just attracts so much opportunity for counterfeiters around the world to find an audience and so it draws a lot of attention,” said David Ian Gray, founder and strategist for DIG360, a national retail advisory firm based in Vancouver.

Gray said consumers need to be cautious when shopping in the online world.

“If you start seeing third-party sellers treat it like you would if you saw it on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, you really don’t for sure know what you are getting,” he said.

Read more: ‘It’s not a victimless crime’: counterfeit goods hurt the economy. So speak up, Crime Stoppers says

Consumers can protect themselves by shopping with reputable and authorized online retailers.

In a 2019 report on counterfeit goods, the Better Business Bureau said the most common place to find sites selling counterfeit goods is on social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram.

Retail experts also advise when shopping on Amazon to look closely at the items in your shopping cart upon checkout. Find out who’s made the product and, more importantly, who’s selling and shipping it.

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