Well as they say, on a long enough time line, anything is possible. In this case, when more than 90% of your shopping is done online, you’re bound to come across dodgy products and even dodgier sellers. Case in point, Ebay. Ok, ok, I hear the collective groan and “well there’s ya problem!” but over the years and the number of items that I and my friends have bought, I’m very much surprised I haven’t been stung more. Though, like any purchase if you do your research before hand on the seller and the product, you’ll be in the clear… most of the time.
When it comes to anything that has the potential to be counterfeit I’m rather fastidious and will sooner miss out on a “bargain” than risk getting burnt. But what happens when you confirm a sellers authenticity but then get stung on the second round? We’ll you’re screwed, that’s what.
Our case study involves one particular seller http://myworld.ebay.com.au/alwaysfastship/ who also has an online store http://www.buyfits.com/, they sell New Era caps and some clothing and accessories. Yes, that’s right, we’re happy to name and shame. Being a little uncertain of how legit they were I thought I’d test the waters with a “cant go too wrong” purchase of a MLB LA dodgers New Era cap. Within a week the cap arrived and after going over it comparing it to several of my other genuine articles I was happy to conclude it was the real deal and left me with enough confidence to buy a couple more. This time I went for an Undefeated (UNDFTD) and a camo MLB, with the previous purchase under my belt I felt safe and didn’t check on these items other than the photos in the listing, big mistake.
Taking them out of the box, it was instantly noticeable that they weren’t of the same quality in material and construction (I know some of the purists will scoff at New Eras own inconsistencies but in general they’re a good cut above the flea market garb). After a quick search online to find tell tale signs for fake New Era caps, I found they were all consistent with what I had received.
Some of those signs include:
- Shape – this is the most obvious visual sign. Look at the cap from front on, its flatter and squarer than a normal New Era, similar cut to a cheap military cap.
- Bill/visor – I don’t know about other fakes but both of these ones felt like they were made from a manila folder. Holding it by the corner of the visor was enough to make it start to bend from the weight of the hat alone. It was like it was melting!
- Labelling – apparently previously it was easier to spot thanks to the poor quality and the placement of the New Era stickers but now they have exact replicas or are even using the real deal, however, they fail elsewhere. The obvious is the print along the inner 6 point seam, on the Undefeated cap it looked like it was drawn own with Liquid paper, almost completely illegible. The not so obvious is the colour and size of the MLB brand label inside the cap. On the fakes the colouring is dull rather than a bold colour, the sizing is off as well, some are smaller, some are way bigger. The MLB branding on the back of the cap can sometimes be a sign but the information I have found on this is rather inconsistent re: the size of the ball in the logo. Though, if you look closely on fakes the edging of the logo in fine detail areas like the point of the guys cap isn’t as sharp.
- Construction – look closely at the stitching and placement of seams and labels. Look for dropped/bunched/loose stitches and crooked labels, these were obvious on both caps.
- Materials – this is a little harder to determine, it seems like all New Eras should be either 100% wool or a wool blend but I have not found any confirmation for this. Though this can still help with identifying fakes. Both the caps I had were labelled as 100% polyester but online were listed as 100% wool. After questioning the seller about this he claimed that darker colours were always made from cotton! Completely contradicting both labelling and what was listed for the item. Strangely enough, the MLB did feel like it was cotton, so its more than likely he let slip the real material they’re made from. Makes sense since cotton is cheaper than wool.
- More Info – a quick Google search will find you plenty of other things to check for including the button on top of the hat not lining up with the panels and inner seams, the number of rows of stitches in the visor etc.
So how do you stop yourself falling into the same traps?
- its been said so many times before but still no truer words have been spoken… if its too good to be true, then it usually is. Case in point, the Undefeated cap was released in 2008, yet here’s a place with seemingly unlimited stock in every size while no other (reputable) store in the world has them. This statement also refers to pricing, if they’re way cheaper than everywhere else or have crazy specials where they’re giving away free hats if you buy 2 or more then this should be taken as a big warning sign.
- On ebay, ALWAYS check the feedback, it may not be 100% accurate for the positive fb, since they can easily get their friends/alias accounts to “buy” stuff from them but the negative and neutral fb is what you need to look for. Even if there’s only one that is enough to look in further at what you’re actually buying.
- Take note of the photos of the items. If they’re game enough to take photos of the actual items, you’ll see they usually shoot from an angle from above. This hides the fakes lack of “doming”. You wont see front on shots with the visor at eye level. Also look out for stolen stock shots from other websites. If fake Air Jordan websites can steal Flight Club stock shots and remove their big watermark then it would be no problem for them to do the same for caps.
- Feedback/disputes – always lodge a dispute as soon as possible. Dodgy sellers are masters at beating round the bush and dragging things out longer then they have to. If you aren’t getting quick responses or it seems they’re trying to worm their way out of it then log a dispute and let ebay sort them out. If you’re planning on leaving negative fb then make sure you’ve exhausted all of your options. Consider it as your final ace up your sleeve because once its dealt then the seller has nothing to lose and can just not refund your money. Also remember there is a limited time to lodge disputes and leave feedback. I believe its around 45 days for both but can’t find confirmation. This used to be way longer but ebay cut it back because they said only a small percentage of people do anything after 30 days. Too bad when it takes over 2 weeks to receive your item and just as long for them to receive it back if you want a refund!
- Usually genuine businesses are a bit more attentive and will try and resolve any issues quickly not take your money and run.
- Finally do not buy from http://myworld.ebay.com.au/alwaysfastship/ or their online store, they’re faker than a hooker’s smile. Even with the chance of getting a genuine article the risk is still high and the service still very poor. Simply not worth the headache. Stick to known authorised resellers and don’t give these leeches the satisfaction.
Now, while I did get a refund on one of the caps, they have stopped replying to my emails for the other, hence this blog/warning/personal reminder.
Update: it seems I haven’t been the only one scolding them with accusations as they have now changed all their listings from “New Era Cap” to “New Cap”. Small silver lining on that cloud but for those uninitiated I hope this message has helped a bit.