Friday, June 10, 2005

Caveat Emptor

Think that Louis Vuitton purse from that powerseller is authentic because they have a high feedback rating? Think again. Just because a seller has 500 feedback, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are trustworthy. Some unscrupulous sellers will sell hundreds of $.05 recipes (usually as private auctions) to get a high feedback rating, and then use that rating to sell fake designer handbags. They can also use this tactic to bury negative feedback from the buyers they fleeced, since they know that many potential buyers will look through the first few pages of feedback, but will probably not bother to wade through everything to find the negative ratings.

So, to get the real scoop on a seller, you might find this negative/neutral feedback filter from toolhaus.org useful. Keep in mind that many buyers might leave neutral feedback on a fake bag because they fear getting a negative rating in return, so read the comments carefully. Also, check the completed auctions of that seller to see what they sold in the last 30 days. Even private auctions will show up here, so if you see 50 recipes for blueberry pancakes, back away slowly, and for God's sake, don't bid!

Receipts also don't mean much, as there are many kinds of software being offered out there that will generate counterfeit receipts.

Lastly, don't fall for the "money-back guarantee on authenticity" scam! Most sellers require written documentation from the store stating that the item is fake, which they NEVER give. Even if they do take the item back, many will charge an outrageous "restocking" fee of up to 30%. Which, of course, was their goal all along.

Oh my, how did I end up on this soapbox again? I just hate it when people are cheated out of their hard-earned money. Please be careful when bidding, and keep in mind that sites like MyPoupette.com will check photos for authenticity for a fee of $5, so verify before you bid!

And if any of my dear readers here are contemplating a Vuitton bag online and are unsure of whether the item is real, drop me a line. I'm not an expert with vintage or special order pieces, but I can usually spot fakes with the more readily available stuff within the last 5 years or so, and I would be happy to help.

Shop safe!

11 Comments:

  • At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm kind of annoyed by this. It goes both ways.
    I am an honest person, with an LV Large Bucket bag to sell that I bought in Italy 3 years ago and no longer want. I listed it on eBay 3 times, which cost me $26.00--and it didn't sell. Why not? I don't know. Perhaps it was because my bidders got spammed by someone telling them that all LV bags on eBay are fake.
    I have an honest-to-god receipt from the boutique, plus the credit card slip on register tape. What does someone like me have to do to "prove" their bag is real so they can get rid of it? It meets all the criteria of being real, because it _is_. Tell me, how does an honest seller display their bag so that it will sell?

     
  • At 2:12 PM, Blogger CrankyBiscuit said…

    Thank you for your comment, as this is very good point. Well, I do believe that the burden is on the seller to prove that the bag is real if you make the claim that it is, since not all, but very many of the listings are fake when they claim to be authentic, and getting your money back is very difficult to do. Buyers should err on the side of safety.

    How do you prove your bag is real? The best way to do this is pictures, pictures, pictures! This is a hassle, but many fakes get some detail or another wrong, so the more photos you give of a real bag, the more likely you will get bidders than if you have one grainy photo.

    Close ups of the zippers, the Louis Vuitton label (almost ALL fakes get this wrong), the date code, the interior, both sides, bottom, etc are the best way to prove authenticity.

    Post details such as when and where you bought it, and accept paypal or escrow.com payments. Post a link to mypoupette.com and let them know that you welcome their authentications. (As an added bonus, many people specifically search for the term mypoupette when they do a LV search, to wade through all the fakes.) All these things do make the buyer feel safer, which is really the key.

    If you don't want your bidders to get spammed, make the bidder identities private. This is a common thing done by sellers as a courtesy, as people *DO* spam LV bidders like crazy.

    I hope this is somehow helpful, as I certainly don't want to discourage people from posting their authentic bags on ebay.

    And if you do decide to try to put your bag up again, email me privately as I might know some people that may be interested. Thanks for posting!

     
  • At 2:22 PM, Blogger CrankyBiscuit said…

    P.S. A few more tips if you have just a few feedbacks and you want to inspire confidence in your bidders:

    *Be sure to watermark your photos with your ebay ID and, if possible, the date. This shows the bidders that you didn't steal the photos from anyone else, and it prevents others from stealing the photos from you to sell their fake bags. There are many free and simple image editors online that will enable you to do this.

    *This one is more of a personal choice, but if you are near a LV boutique, offer to meet your buyer there so you can have it verbally authenticated. There may be some safety issues on this one, so decide if this is feasible for you.

    I know all these things are a pain in the butt for sellers, but if you want someone to pay you several hundred dollars, you do need to somehow convince them to trust you. It sucks that ebay doesn't police their auctions more, and that they have become a haven for counterfeiters, but it is still possible to get good money for your authentic bags if you put some effort into it.

     
  • At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Muffy Wong said…

    Great advice. I recently started wandering around eBay looking for bags and wedding gowns, but my gut and paranoia always kept me from actually bidding.

    Dear Anonymous: How much were you auctioning that bag for?

     
  • At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was wondering if you could maybe post some tips for telling a fake bag from a real one. I'm not in the market for one but I live in the City and I often wonder whose bags came from Canal Street and whose came from Saks.

    -Emily

     
  • At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great points, thanks for the help.

    Personally, I don't have the slightest desire to carry the original of something that's been faked a million times over. The value in a handbag should be immediately apparent in the quality of the materials and the quality of the workmanship, not the label or the logo.

    Besides, the idea of turning myself into a free advertising billboard for a corporation is absoutely abhorrent to me. None of the women on the Best Dressed List-- women with a true sense of elegance on personal style-- make a habit of relying on wearing someone else's initials and logos: if they don't do it, why should it be good enough for me?

    I see someone carrying a bag everyone else has and my gut reaction is to assume they're carrying a fake. As far as I'm concerned, even authentic Louis Vuitton is mass-produced. Most people carrying garden-variety LV look 100% middle class anyway. Why not get some real value for your money and patronize smaller, more creative design houses instead?

    Just a thought.

     
  • At 10:54 PM, Blogger CrankyBiscuit said…

    Anonymous 9:16, I do see your point, but I think most people only think of the brown monogram canvas line when they think of Vuitton, and ignore the fact that there are MANY other lines that are far more subtle. I actually don't own any of the mono canvas, as it's not really to my taste, but I am extremely fond of the epi (see the red bag in my profile) and suhali lines, and they do not scream LV... In fact, most people are unaware that it is a Vuitton bag at all. And while it is, on some scale, mass produced, they are excellently made, and Vuitton stands behind its craftsmanship. Each bag as a one year warranty, so if ANYTHING, no matter how small, goes wrong with it, they either repair it for free or, more often, they exchange it for a brand new one. And the bags last for an exceptionally long time, usually have a classic, timeless quality, and have an extremely high resale value. You can't say that about most bags.

    No, you shouldn't restrict yourself to one brand, and yes, you definitely should buy from smaller creative design houses as well, but I wouldn't write off LV altogether. Worst case, you can get tired of it in a year and resell it for up to 85% of its original retail price.

    And to Emily, there is so much info out there, and the details of telling a fake from a real bag varies from line to line. The best way is just to get familiar with the pieces, either by browsing the store, eluxury, or the vast photo gallery at Mypoupette.com. MyPoupette also sells a guide that tells you how to pick out the fakes by looking at the placement of the symbols, the number of stitches on the tab, and hundreds of other little items.

     
  • At 11:44 AM, Blogger ET said…

    I have to side with anonymous here and say that I don't own any LV bags because EVERYONE seems to have one (although I confess, I am quite taken with the white and multi Murakami bag that Jessica Simpson used to carry). Even in this little no-shopping town, every other person you see in Saks has a standard LV. I don't know enough about this line to tell a fake from a real, but there are so many good fakes out there on a lot of bags now (Gucci, Chloe) that it is hard to trust anyone anymore. And eBay doesn't seem to do ANYTHING. (They send a thank you e-mail and promise to look into the matter, but cannot disclose whether they take any action...so maybe as long as they are still making money and "looking into" things they don't mind so much if we are getting ripped off.) I reported someone for selling bags that I believed were fake (they were shipping from Turkey) and the seller (after sending me a nasty and threatening e-mail) just went on with the auction, and then another, probably screwing people out of a lot of money.

    I agree that I would rather have a bag that is not so mass produced, although Coach does VERY NICE bags for a very reasonable price, and stands behind them forever -- not just a year. When I bought a white suede fringed bag several years ago and took it in to ask about cleaning, Coach even offered to pay for the cleaning (although, if done by a third party, this voids the Coach warranty). I have a number of Coach bags and love them all, and they are beautiful and durable and feel amazing. And of course my Hogans! Here is a line that is HARD to get hold of! I have managed to get a Weekend bag in chocolate, a Scout in gold, and another Scout in biscotti. I would really like to sell the biscotti, as I did not realize the gold bag was going to be really similar in color, but I am not comfortable using eBay for a luxury handbag sale anymore after all of the fakes I have seen listed on their pages. So, it will either sell privately (if you know of someone who is looking for one, please send them my way) or I will keep it and have two. But I personally don't trust eBay's policies anymore to safeguard buyers from mirror-image (or worse) items. Too bad...eBay used to be a really great site.

     
  • At 9:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Anonymous 9:16 here: I really liked the old Coach back when all their bags were made of that thick buttery leather... you could just take off the chain logo thingy and enjoy carrying something well-made. If they ever make them like that again, I'll go back! And yes, the epi leather *is* gorgeous-- I remember the green being particularly nice. But when I went to a leather supply store (to pick out leather for custom-made shoes)and saw rolls of perfectly indistinguishable fake epi, it kind of put me off of it. I didn't mean to knock their quality; it's really just a matter of how hard you have to look. Though I will stand firm that Prada is inferior in every respect to Smythson of Bond Street and yes, even Longchamp.

    You bring up an interesting point: has anyone else noticed that design houses these days seem to be working on a "two tier" aesthetic-- i.e. selling items with huge logos all over them that inevitably get faked, and some that are much less prominent, usually with classic lines? I think it's fascinating, what kind of demographic research must have gone into structuring it. Remember when Hermes targeted the Japanese market back in the 90s? I'm sure appealing to the Asian aesthetic is still a huge factor for everyone. Like Dior has been doing with the hip-hop crowd: a clear case of "taste" following the money.

    I've come to think that buying designers for the express purpose of signifying something about your assumed social class is a losing proposition. The most well-made, chic outfit in the world isn't going to fool anybody if you've got a big, fat, strictly 9-to-5 head sticking out of the top of it! As someone said, a dumb bag on a cool girl is a cool bag; a cool bag on a dumb girl is a dumb bag.

    Carolina Herrera was right: some women can look absolutely ravishing in a nothing dress; some women never look chic no matter what they wear. It's really about being true to yourself and comfortable in your own skin, "fashion" be damned.

    Another thing: has anyone ever stopped to think that instead of raising your status by owning a given bag, you're actually lowering and diluting the desirability and value of whatever it is you're wearing? Sad but true... the only way to win is not to play. buy what you love and forget about it.

    Just a thought!

     
  • At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Its the first poster Anonymous-

    Thanks for the tips for selling my bag. I understand both sides of the issue, but its very frustrating as a seller. Who is this "my poupette"? How do they get to be the gatekeepers of authenticity? I am happy to meet anyone at the LV near my home to authenticate, but no one was interested. So strange. Receipts, and credit card statement...all honest. Perfect bag, and yet, no takers.
    To Wong--it was listed for buy it now 575 (large bucket model 27)

     
  • At 9:03 AM, Blogger mary said…

    Hi, can some one tell me how to read the date codes on Louis Vuitton bags. I have no clue what they mean so therefore am scared to bid on ebay. I guess they can be replicated as well but it would be nice to know what they stand for. Thanks.

     

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