Tuesday 1 July 2008

Knockoffs - Don't Blame eBay

eBay - a phenomenon that plays rather too large a part in my online life - - is in trouble,and it's hard not to be sympathetic. So 9 out of 10 'Louis Vuiton' items traded on eBay are knock-offs - well, 9 out of 10 such items traded anywhere are knockoffs (and hideous with it, just like the originals), as is a high proportion of almost anything you buy. Most buyers, I'm sure, know this and hardly care (unless it's medicine, or something that could go seriously wrong) - but the companies who own the names do care, and hope to take money off such soft targets as eBay by way of compensation or revenge. Well, they got themselves into this pickle in the first place, by outsourcing their manufacturing to China and such sweatshop nations, where their trade secrets were hardly going to stay secret for long. Now counterfeiting has reached such a pitch in China that the Chinese are outsourcing to even cheaper locations, e.g. Cambodia, where closed factories employ slave labour, with women and children chained to their machines. That is the real cost of counterfeiting - not a small dent in the profits of the likes of LVMH.


  1. Indeed, Nige, this is a terrible problem that's only going to get worse. I, myself, have been knocked off with countless imitation Madeleys flooding the market. The sad thing about it, though, is that some people say the copies are better than the real thing. But what am I to do? The world is utterly mad.

  2. It's not hard to suspect that the companies owning the names care only up to a point. Someone using a counterfeit of your product is not using a competitor's product. And in the software industry, and probably in other industries, users are locking themselves into your proprietary formats which may eventually lead to your competitors being run out of town. There's an unhealthy symbiosis about the whole thing that makes me very uneasy. And either way, as you suggest the desire for luxury seems to promote sweatshops. Perhaps Vuitton can others could launch a special offer: buy one of our genuine articles and we'll give you a free week in a Cambodian hellhole where you can watch a counterfeit one being made.

  3. There are many instances where the manufacturers turn a blind eye to piracy, especially in the software industries, not exactly copies but cracked versions, there are more pirated copies of Maya 8 and Photoshop CS3 out there than you can shake a sharp stick at, the attitude seems to be "mainly students, they will eventually come on board", nobody in their right mind, of course, would pirate Microsoft.
    Why is it that virtually every Louis Vuitton shop has a bouncer on the door , the last time we went past (not in, you will note) the Paris store the Japanese were standing 50 deep outside, being allowed in six at a time.
    Was that last Flung Pelisse and Sabre Tasche you bought on EBay a dud Nige?

  4. Neatly demonstrates the different characteristics of the French versus the Anglo-Saxons. To us the principle of caveat emptor would apply. The french barely understand the concept.

    What's worse, is not the award for counterfeit goods, but the Euro40m for allowing various fancy scents to be sold outside of the official distribution channels. What the f....

  5. A couple of decades ago, the knock-offs were coming from Korea and Taiwan. Now Cambodia? Perhaps there is hope for ZImbabwe after all.

    I recently saw the same thing, Malty, and marvelled that the Japanese were standing in line for anything despite every store in town promoting big sales. At their sale prices, it seemed almost everything was 50% above the US price, which approximates, or exceeds, the average Japanese selling price (or did when last I paid any attention to such things while in Japan).

  6. As it happens and as I write, I am wearing a Nicole Farhi jacket that I got for a song on eBay. I think it's the real thing, but frankly don't give two hoots either way, so long as it looks good - which, I am happy to say, it does.