Avoid online pirates and bag a designer bargain

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

Shiver me timbers, a French judge has fired a shot across the beam of online auction site eBay over the sale of pirated goods.

eBay has been ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages to Louis Vuitton for selling fake luxury goods online.

It’s often said that Louis Vuitton is the most faked brand out there and going by the number of sites that specialise in selling “replica” bags and accessories, and by the number of fakes lurking among the listings on our own New Zealand-based Trade Me, I’m inclined to believe those claims.

To be fair, Trade Me seems to be making a bit more of an effort these days to clear out the nasty fakes, but there are still far too many getting through.

Currently, the site’s users can report listings they believe are fake and it would appear someone at Trade Me checks out those reported listings and removes any that are deemed to be against the rules.

I’m guessing a Trade Me staffer also regularly searches for the obvious keywords that might indicate a dodgy listing (such as replica, copy and so on).

However, I’m still not convinced it’s enough. I’ve regularly reported obviously fake bags listed by traders claiming they are the genuine article, and looking for prices that should be paid for the genuine article, but not all those auctions reported are pulled from the site.

With the Paris court’s ruling that eBay must take responsibility for doing more to stop the sale of counterfeit goods on its site, perhaps it’s time for all online auction sites to do more to stop this illegal trade.

If you want to bag yourself a designer bargain, educate yourself on the products. Check out the official sites, familiarise yourself with the colours, shapes and styles produced, and don’t believe everything you read. It’s a big, bad world out there, and there are plenty of online pirates ready to take your cash.

Remember, Louis Vuitton never sells bags that are seconds, or via discount warehouses, and new Vuitton bags never have swing tags attached.

Good luck and be careful.

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