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What can I do if I've been sold a fake?

We try really hard to keep fake and counterfeit goods off the site, but some still slip through.

24 February 2021

Trade Me does not allow the sales of counterfeit items.

When you list fake items, you can breach NZ law and our Terms and Conditions, so we take the sale of fakes very seriously.

Despite our best efforts and due to the volume of listings, unfortunately some do make it onto the site and that isn’t cool.

So you think you’ve been sold a counterfeit or fake item by a Trade Me member. What should you do?

First up, be sure that what you have received is fake.

How do you know?

The product may be clearly an inferior copy, low quality, have poor stitching, uneven type-setting or bad colour matches to the genuine item.

It may lack specific design details and decals found on the genuine item, or not have the correct serial numbers. Using the internet to compare your item to the real deal is a very handy trick.

There are a lot of comparison videos on YouTube that are useful. In some cases you can even find information on the brand’s website, or can contact the brand for more information.

If you are satisfied that the item is fake or ‘not as described’, your first port of call should be to contact the seller, advise them of your concerns and request a refund.

When you contact the seller, always be polite. People are more likely to respond or resolve an issue if you’re polite.

Talking things over with the seller can quickly lead to a positive outcome.

If you are comfortable with exchanging phone numbers, it is a great way to nut the situation out.

Set a timeframe within which you expect a response, and tell the member exactly what you want.

If they don’t have the genuine item you’re likely to be requesting a full refund.

If you are unable to resolve the trade with the seller and you have paid using Trade Me's Ping, Pay Now or Afterpay then you may be eligible for resolution under Buyer Protection.

If you’ve purchased counterfeit goods from a professional seller who is ‘in trade’ they may have extra obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

This means you can return the goods for a full refund, including the cost of shipping. Also representing goods as genuine when they’re not is likely to be a breach of the Fair Trading Act – we’re not happy about sellers misleading our members.

Leaving firm but fair feedback may help move things along.

Be honest about your experience – if you are disappointed you can say so.

You can always edit the feedback once the trade is resolved - to reflect the seller’s excellent customer service and willingness to put things right.

The seller themselves may not have known that the item was fake, so give them the chance to fix the situation.

If the seller requires the goods to be returned, this cost should be included as part of the refund.

Take many close up pictures of the item before you send it for future reference, including any particular detail you’ve noted as being consistent with fake goods.

Occasionally you may find that communication isn’t able to resolve issues with a lemon trade like this. If you get stuck, let us know - we’re a click or a phone call away.

While Trade Me is a marketplace and the sale of counterfeit items is the sellers’ responsibility, we’re happy to talk to sellers of counterfeit gear and to assist you both in resolving your trade.

Further reading on IPR issues

Creative Commons image used courtesy Ramón Cutanda López on Flikr.