As online retailers continue to set new records this holiday season, BBB warns consumers to be on the lookout for counterfeit versions of popular products. Although a few sellers may be upfront about the nature of their infringing products, consumers are often left disappointed in the end. BBB’s warning comes on the heels of a BBB investigation into C2Coffer.com, an online marketplace website using a fake address in North Texas.
Counterfeit goods can be alluring when the prices are significantly lower than consumers would normally pay for the genuine articles, or when coveted name-brand items are in limited supply. But in exchange for lower prices or the promise of delivery, consumers can end up with lower quality or non-functioning goods, often with no recourse for repair, replacement or refund.
C2COffer.com is an online consumer-to-consumer marketplace with a format similar to eBay and Amazon.com. The site displays an address in McKinney, TX, which doesn’t check out.
The business first came to BBB’s attention when customers complained about non-delivery of purchased merchandise and failure to receive refunds. One complaint also alleged that the merchandise was counterfeit.
A consumer in Missouri complained, “On June 19, 2012, I bought an Apple iPod 32gb Touch, but have never received it yet and repeated attempts to contact the ‘seller’ have produced no responses. I also bought 2 iPod Nanos 64gb on June 22, 2012. I received those items but they are fake. They are not recognized by any computer as an iPod, and they are not 64 gb capacity … I paid $88 for the iPod Touch and I paid $55.00 each for the iPod Nanos.”
BBB’s research indicates that C2COffer.com is being used primarily for China-based counterfeiters to sell to English-speaking consumers. Trendy products are often presented as real and are offered at prices substantially lower than their real counterparts.
In addition to complaints received by the BBB, many consumers have taken to YouTube to describe their dissatisfaction with the products they’ve purchased from C2COffer.com. Several users claim they were “scammed.”
Although C2Coffer.com claims to be located in McKinney, Texas, the address appears to be non-existent, indicating that the address is being used to disguise the lack of actual U.S. operations. Mail has been returned marked “No Such Number, Unable to Forward” and the address does not turn up in a zip code search with the U.S. Postal Service.
Based on C2COffer.com’s failure to respond to customer complaints and to BBB’s request for information, C2COffer.com has a BBB rating of “F,” the lowest rating on a scale from A+ to F. See the BBB Business Review on C2Coffer.com at http://www.bbb.org/dallas/business-reviews/internet-shopping/c2coffercom-ltd-in-mckinney-tx-90392862
BBB asked C22Offer.com for an accurate address for its US-based operations, and for proof of its business registration in the State of Texas. The BBB has been unable to verify the company's business registration.
Because BBB finds that a significant number of the sellers on the website appear to be selling counterfeit products from China, BBB asked C2Coffer.com to provide its policies and procedures for preventing the sale of counterfeit products through its website.
The business has failed to respond to the BBB's request for information.
Consumers must be cautious in online purchasing. The adage, ‘if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,’ certainly applies in today’s online marketplace.
BBB offers these tips to avoid counterfeit scams:
• Don’t buy obvious counterfeits -- You may spend less, but quality often suffers as a result. Counterfeit transactions are illegal, and they are harmful for brand owners and the marketplace.
• Be cautious of “knock-offs” that look a lot like name brands -- Knock-offs also suffer from quality problems, and often test the limits of legality.
• Be discerning -- If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Check out online sellers with BBB at www.bbb.org.
• Report fraud -- Report counterfeits to the infringed brand. Most popular brands have contact information online.