The Reality of Purchasing a Hermès Birkin directly from a Hermès store or boutique is a combination of potluck, extreme patience, and previous purchase history with the company. Even with all three, it is hard to figure out when, if ever, you will receive a call or invitation to get the bag of your dreams. The many unwritten rules for who gets what and when directly from Hermès has led to a thriving resale market for Birkin bags. Secondary markets for Birkin handbags offer the advantages of finding your dream Birkin promptly, eliminating the indefinite wait for a Hermès bag from the store or boutique.
The surge in popularity of the secondary market, in addition to the rising value of Birkin bags, has led to a huge number of resellers appearing online over the last few years. Today, the resale market is flooded with Hermès bags, and unfortunately, the majority of them are counterfeits. One of the first places many women turn to when seeking out a Hermès Birkin on the secondary market is eBay. The popular auction website implements a range of rules and guarantees in an attempt to prevent the sale of replica goods on its site. However, there remains a worryingly high number of counterfeit luxury items listed on the site.
The main problem is that every time eBay introduces new measures to crack down on counterfeit goods, resellers find new ways of exploiting buyers desperate for their dream handbag. In this blog, we will look at the dangers of buying a Hermès Birkin on eBay, what you should look out for when purchasing a Birkin bag online, and why you should use extreme caution when using online authentication services who claim to tell you whether a bag is genuine or not by examining only the photo.
Counterfeits on eBay
Since its inception, eBay has continually had problems with counterfeit goods and in particular high-end luxury items such as Hermès handbags. As far back as 2008, eBay hit the headlines when they were ordered to pay €38.6 million (approximately $41 million USD) in damages to luxury goods group LVMH for negligence in allowing the sale of fake bags, lipsticks, and designer clothing items. This ruling came only a month after eBay were ordered to pay Hermès €20,000 (approximately $21,300 USD) for allowing the sale of counterfeit handbags. Although these fines were issued almost a decade ago, the auction site remains a thriving marketplace for the sale of fake luxury goods.
In fact, counterfeit luxury items are steadily increasing in numbers across sites such as eBay and are becoming increasingly difficult to spot. According to Bloomberg, counterfeits make up $500 billion, or 2.5 percent, of global imports in 2013 and the figure is expected to grow as spending online increases. The report cited by Bloomberg comes from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in April of 2016 which also states the main culprits are middle income or emerging countries, with China the top producer of counterfeit items.
A contributing factor to the steady rise in numbers of fake goods sold online is the increasingly high-quality replicas produced, known as superfakes. These bags are so good that it is almost impossible to tell the difference without a thorough inspection of the bag. Many of these superfake handbags are crafted by skilled workers who cut and stitch the materials to perfection. The bags feature top-grade leathers and material with logos meticulously copied to echo the originals. Many of these superfake bags even have serial numbers, date stamps, and shop labels with barcodes to try and fool unsuspecting buyers.
In response to the rise in quality and numbers of fake luxury goods and handbags, eBay announced the launch of a new service called “eBay Authenticate” at the beginning of 2017. The program is due to begin later in 2017 and offers the services of a professional authenticator before a handbag is shipped to the buyer. Sellers can choose to pay for the service to win the confidence of their clients or customers can pay the fee with the sale nullified if the items are counterfeit. Fees for the service and information on exactly who will provide the authentication services are yet to be determined. Until eBay releases more details about the new service, it’s difficult to determine whether or not the service will deter the sale of fake goods on the auction site.
Methods Used by Fake Sellers on eBay
While there are some ways to Spot Fake Hermès Bags, it is increasingly difficult to tell authentic handbags from their synthetic counterparts on eBay. This difficulty is due to the increase in quality of fake bags and extremely cunning methods used by fraudulent sellers to lure unsuspecting people into a false sense of security. Some of the things which should set alarm bells ringing when buying a Hermès bag on eBay include:
Professional photos from an amateur seller – It is incredibly easy for anyone to grab a professional picture of a Hermès handbag from Google Images or even sites such as Baghunter and post it on eBay with their own watermark. These types of listings are often accompanied by a creative backstory in an attempt to add credibiliity to the listing.
Inability to produce photos on request – An increasing number of fake sellers are using drop shipping methods to sell fake bags on eBay. The seller lists the handtbag without actually having it on hand and then purchase the bag for a lower price from China once their listing sells. Some even imitate another vendor’s listing and when it sells for a higher price buy the cheaper bag and forward it to you. To ensure the seller has the bag they have listed, request a picture of the bag next to today’s paper.
Sellers with 100% positive feedback – Many eBay buyers only look at the feedback percentage listed underneath the seller’s username and gain confidence if they see a high rating. However, it is always worth checking the seller history. Some fake sellers have 100% positive feedback for buying only or for selling hundreds of small items for $0.99, and suddenly they begin listing high-end luxury goods. The purchasing of eBay accounts with excellent feedback on the black market is big business and a popular scamming method.
Original sales receipts, boxes, dust bags, etc. – There are many superfake Hermès bags listed on eBay which come with original receipts and Hermès accessories. Unfortunately, a receipt does not guarantee authenticity as they can sell on the underground market. The same goes for original Hermès accessories. Using actual receipts and accessories with a superfake bag is a tactic employed by many fake sellers on eBay.
Authentication by Photo Only
The continued increase in counterfeit Hermès bags on eBay has led to the rise of a parallel service of authenticating Hermès handbags which are listed on the auction site. The services are designed to put the buyer's mind at ease before purchasing a luxury handbag on eBay by examining pictures of the bag and issuing a certificate to say that they believe the bag is genuine. All of this for a fee of course.
Type “Hermès authentication eBay” into Google, and you will find a plethora of individuals providing authentication of Hermès bags by photo only. The majority of these independent authentication services feature a carefully written clause to their services, absolving them from liability should their photo analysis turn out incorrect. For instance, one such service, Bababebi, advertises a “precise determination of authenticity or lack thereof,” but also ensures they are “harmless from and against any loss…based upon or resulting from any opinion rendered...with respect to Hermès handbags”. While it is understandable to protect a business’s interests, the guaranteed authentication of Hermès bags by photo only is impossible.
Cheap knock-offs of Hermès handbags are easily identifiable by photos as they display obvious signs of being fakes. For instance, the zippers, shape, size, stamps, etc. are wrong and mishappen when it comes to cheap fakes. However, the problem with photo identification comes when dealing with superfake Hermès bags or clever resellers. Superfake bags are impossible to tell apart from genuine handbags by photo only. These bags are crafted by highly skilled craftsmen and replicate even the tiniest details found in authentic Hermès handbags. The only way to tell they are fake is by actually examining the bag in person. Another issue with photo identification is the widespread use of stolen pictures which don’t display the bag which is sent to the buyer. Authenticating a Hermès handbag by photo only is a huge risk to take.
In addition to the impossibility of authenticating Hermès bags by photo only, these services are contributing to the plague of fake bags for sale online. Fake sellers can make use of such services by sending pictures of a genuine Hermès handbag, receiving a certificate of authenticity from such services, and adding the document to the listing on eBay to increase buyer trust. Many shoppers will see the bag is accompanied by a certificate from an authentication service and believe the bag is genuine without further research. For these reasons, it is essential to perform thorough research on all parts of listings for Hermès handbags. If a listing is accompanied by an authentication certificate, research the company who provided the document. If that company provides authentication by photo only, it is not sufficient evidence that the bag in question is a genuine Hermès handbag.
How to Report Fakes on eBay
Due to the extreme risk of purchasing a fake bag on eBay, we highly recommend only using genuine and trusted sellers with consistent feedback and credibility. These sellers are few and far between. However, the peace of mind gained when using a vendor of confidence far outweighs the risk of purchasing a counterfeit bag for slightly less money. If you come across a fake seller on eBay, there are three ways to report them. Each method only takes a couple of minutes and is worth the time invested in helping crack down on these fake sellers:
Report as Counterfeit
To report a Birkin bag as a counterfeit item on eBay click on the following sequence
- Counterfeits and copyright violations
- Potential trademark infringement
- Counterfeit clothing…
- Email Us
Report as Listing Violation
To report a fake handbag as a listing violation on eBay click on the following sequence:
- Listing policy violations
- Misleading title
- Intentionally misleading or deceptive titles
- Email Us
Report as Fraud
To report a fake handbag listing as fraud on eBay click on the following sequence:
- Fraudulent listings
- You suspect that a listing is fraudulent, but you didn’t bid
- Email Us
- Write reasons for believing the article is fraudulent in the text box provided
Have you purchased a Hermès or Chanel bag from eBay before? We would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.