All shopping platforms have sellers who sell fake products. There is just no way for anyone to check every single item on the website or app, especially if they’re coming from hundreds or thousands of different sellers. But there are ways to spot the red flags. I’ve been shopping online since 1998 when Amazon first started selling internationally. Even Amazon is NOT free from fake products. Naive me once bought an inauthentic Gucci bag from Amazon. I have learned from that costly mistake (it was early 2000’s and it cost me ₱15,000) and I can now spot a bogus seller from over a mile away. Plus now I know better than to expect Amazon to sell Gucci items lol.
Anyway, I’m making a list of red flags you need watch out for when shopping at your favorite e-commerce platform. Hopefully you won’t waste your hard-earned money on fake products.
- If the price is too good to be true, it’s fake. Let’s take Cetaphil for example. Everyone knows that Cetaphil is a pricey brand. Suddenly there’s a seller selling their cleanser for ₱100+. That’s a sure way to tell it’s fake because not even during sale periods can you get Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser for ₱100+ a pop. CeraVe is another brand that is widely faked.
- Wrong spelling on the store listing, the packaging, and elsewhere. Legitimate brand stores will never spell anything incorrectly.
- Numerous one star reviews are also an indication the products being sold are fake. If you’re lucky, the one star reviews will include photos and descriptions of just how badly faked the products are. Thus, you should always check the one star reviews on the app FIRST. People who have never bought the expensive original product won’t really be able to identify if it’s real. Plus a lot of the five star positive reviews on these bogus seller pages are about the fast shipping, secure packaging, and so forth.
- If shopping on Shopee or Lazada, labels like Authorized Seller, Preferred, Shopee / Lazada Mall are NOT guarantees of authenticity. Anyone who can submit paperwork can get categorized as such. Both platforms do not check each and every single item on the inventory so after getting categorized, they can pretty much sell ANYTHING.
- If the branded product is shipping from Mainland China, there’s a very big chance it’s fake. I’ve already seen fake Sulwhasoo shipped from China. Always check where the product is shipping from. Products that ship from Korea and Japan are all legit based on my experience.
So what can you do to make sure you’re buying the real thing?
- Buy from OFFICIAL STORES as much as possible. Brands like Cetaphil have official stores on both Shopee and Lazada.
- Avoid buying repackaged products. First of all, it’s very easy to mix other things with them (water, cheaper products, etc) so that they can make more portions. Secondly, you can’t be sure of the cleanliness of the product. You will never know if they scraped it off the floor, used dirty utensils, and so forth… and then you’re going to apply it onto your face and body??? There’s a reason why products sold in stores have a seal which says do not purchase if broken. You can’t even be sure of the expiry date if it’s repacked.
- Always check reviews, especially one star reviews.
- Do not click order received right away. Inspect your purchase and make sure it’s authentic so that you can file for return and refund if ever it’s fake.
- If the product you’re buying has no Philippine presence, like CeraVe, you can crowdsource from people who have bought the real thing online. There are communities like TBG The Budol Group which are dedicated to shopping. Or you can go to Amazon and buy from there. American drugstore products don’t really have fake versions on Amazon due to the reality of lawsuits and such. Some of the most widely faked brands on Philippine shopping apps are Cetaphil, CeraVe, The Ordinary, and Glossier.
There are sellers who do sell authentic products that have no Philippine presence, it’s just it can be difficult to find them because of the sheer number of fakes that come out when you search the shopping platforms. If ever you end up buying a fake product that you can’t return or refund, please leave a one star review saying so. This is to warn other shoppers and discourage more sellers from selling fake products.
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