eBay to launch authentification program for secondhand luxury goods

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Although I’m yet to buy a secondhand designer bag online, my default go-to website for a quick browse is always Vestiaire Collective. Why? Because when you buy an item via the site, it is automatically inspected by Vestiaire Collective’s team, who are said to be highly trained in spotting counterfeits. So you can be sure that what you are forking out a lot of money for is indeed the genuine article.

Probably the last place I would look is eBay, because we so often hear stories of people buying goods that turn out to be fake—Christina Warren of Gizmodo wrote about how she bought a Louis Vuitton bag on eBay for $300, only for the zipper to break. When she took it to a Louis Vuitton store to be replaced, the sales assistant told her it was fake. And we’ve all heard a tale about someone buying something based on a stock photo, only for a cheap knock off to arrive in the post.

Counterfeit goods on online marketplaces such as eBay erode consumer confidence and can have a detrimental effect on the many sellers out there who sell genuine designer goods.

Although eBay already has anti-counterfeit initiatives such as the Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) program, which allows rights holders to quickly report items listed on eBay that are possible counterfeits, the auction site announced last week that it is going one step further and launching the eBay authentificate program later this year.

How it works is simple: sellers or buyers opt into the service for a fee on specific types of products on eBay (the program will initially be focusing on high-end fashion, such as designer handbags), and the item is then reviewed by a professional authentificator before being shipped to the buyer once it passes the inspection. And if the item is shipped but is later found to be counterfeit, eBay says it will refund the buyer two times the cost of the original purchase price.

The program looks to be win-win for both buyers and sellers: buyers can confidently purchase big-ticket items, and sellers can get the best price for what they are selling. Provided, of course, that people are willing to pay for this authentification. And there’s the rub—eBay hasn’t yet revealed details of how much the service costs, but I’m guessing it won’t come cheap.

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