ReconBob is designed to bring relevant reviews to the surface that may otherwise be buried, and to direct shoppers to the most trustworthy sellers. It assumes that the buyer will want to know if merchants are selling expired goods, selling used products as new, hawking knockoffs, or if their items come with broken seals — even if these things happen only occasionally.
“It helps them understand who they’re buying from on Amazon and creates transparency,” Dunkel told Giftofaservant. “We want consumers to look and learn a little more about who the seller is.”
Dunkel is introducing ReconBob at a time when Amazon’s marketplace is coming under greater scrutiny. In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office said that 20 of the 47 products purchased by investigators from third-party sellers on major e-commerce sites including Amazon were counterfeits.
And last week, the maker of an under-desk headphone mount called the Anchor wrote a blog post titled “Amazon is complicit with counterfeiting,” and said that scammers were flooding the site with fakes.
“Customers are unknowingly buying crap versions of the product, while both Amazon and the scammers are profiting, and the reputation you’ve built goes down the toilet,” Elevation Lab wrote in the post, which has since gone viral.
Amazon has been taking to steps to crack down on counterfeiters, filing lawsuits on Thursday against sellers of fake Vera Bradley handbags and Otterbox phone cases. But Amazon won’t be able to litigate its way out of this massive and growing problem.
“We strictly prohibit the sale of counterfeit products and invest heavily – both funds and company energy – to ensure our policy against the sale of such products is followed,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “We remove suspected counterfeit items as soon as we become aware of them, and we remove bad actors from selling on Amazon. We have successfully taken legal action against a number of bad actors and will continue to pursue legal action and work with law enforcement.”
The company also said that it employs teams of engineers, research scientists and investigators for its anti-counterfeiting program and invests in “innovative machine learning and automated systems to anticipate and stay ahead of bad actors.”