Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Washington Post: "Mysterious brands are flooding shopping sites and social media ads, making it difficult to tell the real from the low-quality"

There was an interesting article today in the Washington Post: "A flood of unknown products is making online shopping impossible."  Here are some highlights:

These days, navigating Amazon, Walmart and Google’s maze of third-party sellers or judging hip-looking social media ads requires the same kinds of skills as identifying misinformation and conspiracy theories.

So a shopper also has to look for subtle signs such as too many reviews that are overly positive or use repetitive language. Search for the origin of a product photo to make sure it’s not stolen or provided to multiple sellers by a factory.

I can confirm this last point.  I have had plenty of photographs from this site used without my permission or knowledge by criminals sites.  (I know, ipso facto.)  This is true of both social media sites as well as counterfeit sites.


Tech companies are vocal about their efforts to crack down on obvious counterfeit products...[but t]here may be no incentive for companies to crack down on this gray area. 

The situation is as frustrating for companies making legitimate products as it is for shoppers. 

Read the article here:


  1. I agree with the major premises of the article. That is why I almost always do some homework (beyond reviews posted on the company's own Amazon profile or website), make informed choices, and purchase from sources that appear trustworthy. If an online purchase costs meaningfully less than it probably should, and it's not clearly advertised as used (ebay, grailed etc., where user reviews tend to be swift and caustic for disreputable sellers), there is a reasonable likelihood you're about to waste your money.

  2. Especially if its something expensive, I try to go to the manufacturer's site -- for instance if I were to buy a Tiffany bracelet, I would shun Amazon or Ebay and buy directly from Tiffany's. Fakes abound on the Internet sites. Other things are somewhat trickier. If I need a pool filter, I would try to buy it from the manufacturer or contact the manufacturer for recommended dealers since some manufacturers won't sell directly to the public. But I always, always keep in mind -- you get what you pay for.

  3. Even going to manufacturer's website is no guarantee. Jack Donnelly Khakis advertises on this blog and is recommended. However...on October 4th I am still waiting for an order placed on July 27th. Owner Gregg Donnelly emails vague promises of "shipping soon"...Meanwhile the company continues to accept orders with the assurance of shipping in a matter of days... So where can we turn ???

    1. I've also had to wait a while for Jack Donnelly trousers, but that is a supply chain issue. There is nothing shady going on there, except for the fact that it is a small company operating in the context of wide spread labor shortages.

  4. One would hope, quality will win out!

  5. I only buy from specific companies I know like and know; J Press, Mercer & Sons, etc. Styles and quality vary as we know, so need an open mind as to brands. Recently found 97% Cotton shorts and trousers at Darien Sport Shop produced by "Johnnie 0", California company. Informed Peter Millar involved after he sold out awhile ago. After looking for months at various know companies from Nantucket to Marblehead, etc. had given up until I found these traditional shorts.

  6. Stetson , Resistol and Serratelli have been up against this problem for a long time .

  7. I don't shop online. I have to see it up front, touch it, and try it on before I spend anything. And I have the time to do this being retired, but I know how difficult things can be with work and family and the like today. Buy hey, wait a minute, weren't they always part of the equation?

  8. I've seen countless ads like these on social media. Even some appear to be from reputable companies, only after you click, the web address isn't what it should be. I even saw an ad for sweaters that I found interesting. I clicked on it, went in to the merchandise...and recognized the people in the photos from another website. Someone had stolen all of the photos as a way of ripping people off. It seems as though nothing is sacred anymore. The worst one was a supposed LLBean Outlet. Out of curiosity I clicked. Another fake. Social media needs to start vetting these ads, but instead, they only see $$$.


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