TIPS FOR PURCHASING HIGH-TICKET ITEMS:
The aforementioned "How to avoid online scams when shopping for
expensive designer bags," by Selina Whiteford:
"A good first step is to visit the websites of the top designer bag
makers and find a link that says 'Contact' or 'Customer Service.' Then
either email them or use their 800 phone number to inquire about
authorized sellers of their purses . . .
"If you're looking at getting a purse from Ebay or another auction
site, be sure to check the seller's feedback comments from previous
buyers. If they don't mention it in their listing, contact the seller
to find out if they include any proof of authenticity. A smart move is
to get a catalog from the maker so you can compare the auction site
picture with the real thing in the catalog.
"Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints about each
handbag merchant. If you're considering buying a designer handbag from
a U.S. merchant, be sure to check them out at the Better Business
"Always use a credit card for online purchases. . . . Because the
issuing bank wants your business, so they will almost always side with
you if you decide to get a refund."
To see how to do further checking upon receipt of your bag, see the
tips under "What you should do after you get your new designer
"My Poupette 's Louis Vuitton Discussion Forum":
"Many companies would have you believe that LV has sold 'wholesale'
merchandise to them and it simply is not true. . . . Any web site
advertising WHOLESALE LV is running a con game, as far as I am
concerned and I would recommend keeping a healthy distance . . . ."
There's some other good advice here that seems applicable to any haute
couture item, such as a monogram that seems slightly out of alignment
when compared to items in the manufacturer's catalog, or purse
seem too long or too short.
"AVOIDING COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS" from the Loss Prevention Concepts, Ltd.:
"All high end designer purses, leather goods and jewelry sold at house
parties are fake. . . .
" Avoid Buying Name Brand Products at Fairs and Street Festivals . . .
flea markets . . .
"Beware of Goods that Lack Proper Markings:
"Most legitimate goods and packaging contain manufacturers' codes,
trademarks, copyrights, toll free phone numbers, etc. Many also
contain bar codes, recycling signs or holograms. The more familiar
you are with the brand, the easier it is to note whether there is
"Beware of Goods Where Country of Origin Identification is Missing:
"Many high end designer products are manufactured exclusively in the
United States. Others are made in France, Great Britain, Italy,
Brazil and other countries. Many of the counterfeit products come
from China, Korea, Taiwan and other Asian countries. Since
counterfeiters realize that many consumers would become suspicious of
a $200 designer handbag or a $100 pair of designer sunglasses if a
'Made in China' tag was affixed to the item, they remove the tags
showing the country of origin."
From "Faking it," by Cynthia Nellis, from About.com:
"How to spot a fake. . . .The old method of spotting fakes was simple:
flimsy hardware, cheap leather and misspelled logos were a giveaway.
Now, fakes are so good (and expensive) that you simply can't tell the
"So how do you know what's real and what's not?
"The price. A new Louis Vuitton handbag for $100 is not authentic.
"Where it's being sold. Authorized dealers for Chanel, LV, etc. do
not sell handbags out of the trunk of a car. Nor do they sell them at
online auctions or at home parties." [I'm not convinced the latter
point re: online auctions is accurate. In researching this question, I
found some online sellers who are also members of the Appraisers
Association of America, and/or who have other impressive credentials.]
"Point of origin tag. Designer apparel or leather goods with a 'Made
in Taiwan' tag are not authentic."
Use Local Sellers:
Another tip for buying any expensive item from an online auction -- is
to purchase via local auctions. (eBay has those:)
Arrange to meet the seller in person to complete the transaction, so
that you can inspect the item right there and then.
eBay allows you to buy valuable items via www.escrow.com:
Here's www.escrow.com's homepage:
How it works:
Even if you aren't buying from eBay but from another online merchant,
ask the seller if they're amenable to using that service.
Another tip: About a year ago, an online auction merchant asked me for
the security code off the back of my credit card -- that's the
three-digit number to the far right of your account number.
Suspicious, I called my credit card company to ask if this was safe,
and I was told to NEVER give that number to a merchant; such a request
is a red flag that the merchant may well be a con artist.
TIPS FROM MICROSOFT
"Bidding at online auctions: 10 safety and privacy tips," from Microsoft:
"Research the auction site. If you've never used an online auction
site, read the site's help file before you place a bid. Also, make
sure you understand the site's privacy statement and its user
"Ask for [seller's] phone number and verify it. Be wary of sellers who
ask that you send payment to a P.O. Box, instead of a physical
address. [I've seen this warning a lot, along with don't use a wire
transfer.] . . .
"Find an expert on that particular item and ask if he or she can
authenticate it. [Presumably, online. More about that later.] Compare
prices on other auctions for similar items or even at online stores. .
"Watch for items with shipping dates that exceed 20 days after receipt
of payment. . . .
"Hint: Before you bid, ask sellers if they plan to ship the item using
a parcel tracking service. . . ."
"An auction with a starting price much lower than other auctions of
similar items may indicate a lower quality product, or it could mean
the item was stolen.
"Also be wary of requests for bank or wire transfers and sellers who
want to be paid in foreign currencies. [Do not agree to use a wire
transfer under any circumstances!] Question sellers who ask you to
send payment to an address that is different from the one in the
auction. . . ."
"How to avoid online auction fraud," by John Yaukey, USA Today, May 7, 2002:
" Check the seller's feedback at the auction site. Be wary of
feedback from buyers dated only a few days following a sale ? it may
be fake. Delivery usually takes at least several days, and most
buyers typically use their merchandise for several days before
responding with comments to the seller.
"Be wary of sellers outside the United States. In fact, it's a good
idea to avoid them altogether.
". . . Never buy anything from a seller who asks for payment to be
mailed to a P.O. box.
"Look for suspicious signs such as sellers looking to get rid of a few
expensive items quickly through opening-bid prices that seem
unnaturally low or sellers who offer to pay for shipping."
ADVICE FROM eBay:
eBay's "Security Center":
Also, if you buy via PayPal -- the most popular means of payment at eBay --
you're automatically insured for up to $1,000:
PayPal Dispute Resolution:
You may also want to look for a "Square Trade" seal by a seller's name.
Learn more about Square Trade:
See the transcript from Boston TV station WHDH, "Designer Difference,"
which aired February 25,2004:
After offering some tips for spotting fakes, the report offers these
"Every high-end company will be happy to help you authenticate a
questionable bag, *some will even go online with you to check them
For more information:
Once at a designer's site, go to "Customer Service" or "Contact Us,"
etc., and look for a number customers can call.
I would suggest you focus on buying brands only from manufacturers who
assist consumers with verification. If there's a designer you have in
mind, I would check their site, or call them, before buying one of
their items at auction. You want to be sure the manufacturer will
assist you after the sale. They most certainly will want to be aware
of fraudulent sales.
SELLERS WHO UNWITTINGLY SELL FAKES
The most prominent case is Gucci vs. Daffy's.
From "Can You Spot The Fake?," by Jim Edwards, Brandweek, October 28, 2002:
"When a retailer is caught selling knockoff goods, it can normally
expect to be banned from carrying the brand in addition to paying
heavy fines. In this case, however, Daffy's raised a curious defense:
The store executives believed the bags were real.
". . .The judge was unimpressed. He noted that when both bags were
compared even Gucci could provide no proof as to which was fake and
which was real. 'The handbags were counterfeit," the judge agreed,
"albeit a high-quality product capable of fooling even the most
"In fact, Daffy's managers had gone to lengths to ascertain the origin
of the bags. First, they took a Jackie O to a Gucci store where the
staff pronounced it real. Then they sent a broken bag to Gucci to be
repaired under warranty; it came back fixed, without comment. Further,
Daffy's noted, the bags had come from a reputable supplier and had
been as expensive as the real thing.
"In September, the judge ordered Daffy's to stop selling the bags, but
ruled against Gucci on all other counts, allowing Daffy's to continue
selling Gucci product."
The Daffy's case proves that even honest dealers can be fooled because
so many knock-offs are such excellent replicas.
I should think that any reputable seller who unknowingly sells a fake
should not only be very willing to make complete restitution to you,
but will also volunteer to call the manufacturer to report the fake;
report who sold the item to them, and even offer to send the item to
the designer for inspection.
First, notify the auction site.
Then report the fraud to the FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center:
You can also report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
If you're not in the U.S., go to this link from the FTC for
international consumer protection agencies:
HIRING AN APPRAISER:
Appraisers Association of America, Inc.:
Select the category "Couture" from the drop-down menu, then fill in
the fields to find an expert closest to you.
*If you don't reside in the U.S., please tell me your country of
residence and I will try to find which law enforcement agency, and
which appraisal services would be applicable for you.
Don't forget to check with the manufacturer, as noted in the WHDH-TV
report. A representative from the manufacturer may be willing to check
out the online auction or seller's site to check the item of interest.
Finally, here's an excellent article that explains just how epidemic
-- and bewildering -- the counterfeit couture problem is:
"Reality Check," by Robin Pogrebin, from Departures.com, May/June 2004:
" Under the law, if the goods are made in a factory that manufactures
the genuine article but were not approved by the owner, they are
considered counterfeit, Lehv says. But it gets confusing. The goods
are real; they just weren't supposed to be made in the first place.
"To guard against these overruns, owners often provide factories with
only a limited supply of authentic labels. But then the factories just
make their own phony labels and pass them off as the real thing.
'They still have the mold or the form or the capacity, so they just
keep going,' Kurnit says. "The best counterfeiters put on the actual
label or logo and simply sell the
items without the markup."
authenticate high-ticket fashion items
authenticate high-ticket fashion items +online auctions
buying high-ticket items AND online auctions
buying designer fashions on eBay AND authenticate OR verify
designer fashions online AND authenticate OR verify
authenticate OR verify auction items
verify authenticity of designer fashion
authenticating high ticket OR designer fashion
authenticate designer goods OR fashion
authenticate luxury OR designer + tags OR label
hire appraiser AND luxury OR designer AND fashion
hire appraiser AND couture
I hope my research is of help to you. If you have any trouble
navigating any of the above links -- or if you need me to clarify
anything or follow-up on anything -- please post a "Request For
Clarification," and I will assist you.
Google Answers Researcher