Amazon introduces fees, red tape to deter fake sellers

Amazon has raised the bar for sellers of top brands by asking for an upfront fee designed to discourage counterfeiters.

The fee - said to be between $1,000 and $1,500 and non-refundable - comes with a hefty paperwork burden designed to weed out sellers who are not doing legitimate business with suppliers of the genuine branded goods, according to a CNBC report.

Sellers will also have to "provide invoices from manufacturers or distributors that show the purchase of 30 items within the last 90 days," it says.

The 'brand-gating' initiative comes as Amazon is facing criticism for not doing enough to curb counterfeit listings on its websites, and after footwear company Birkenstock announced it would no longer distribute its goods through the e-commerce giant.

The measures have not been introduced across the board but will apply to "certain products and categories" and involve "additional performance checks, other qualification requirements, and fees," according to the e-tailer, which says it should add up to greater protection for consumers.

Smaller sellers have reacted with consternation, saying the measures are overblown and will hit their bottom line harder than larger players.

Businesses that engage in a practice known as retail arbitrage - picking up genuine clearance or liquidated stock to sell at a profit via Amazon's platform - could find their business model is destroyed.

Earlier this month consumer advocacy group The Counterfeit Report claimed it was asking for millions of counterfeit listings on Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Alibaba to be taken down as they were suspected to be counterfeit.

TCR's website maintains that 51 per cent of complaints stem from goods bought on eBay, with Amazon accounting for 5 per cent of the total, behind Facebook (8 per cent) and Alibaba/AliExpress (6 per cent).

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