Amazon seller: false counterfeit report destroyed my business

Amazon is often criticised for not doing enough to drive fakes off its platform, but one seller says a heavy-handed response to claims two items he sold were counterfeit has left him penniless.

Barak Govani ran a clothing store on Los Angeles’ iconic Melrose Avenue called New York Speed, but as the pandemic hit earlier this year he decided to shut it down, transferring his entire business to Amazon’s third-party marketplace.

As Govani was using Amazon’s fulfilment service that involved shipping some $1.5m in stock to the online retail giant, the primary asset of the business which traded on the platform as Addicted Wear. It specialised in reselling brands like Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Diesel, G-Star, True Religion, Hause of Howe, Jetlag, Energie, Lucky Brand, and 55 DSL clothing

Initially things went well, but then a customer lodged a complaint with Amazon that a Lucky Brand jacket bought from the Addicted Wear storefront was counterfeit, while another suggested Calvin Klein underwear was “knock-off”.

Govani insists the accusations are false – providing proof of purchase to Amazon – but his account was deactivated, and his inventory destroyed, albeit with warnings that would happen if it was not collected. He claims he received conflicting dates from Amazon about the date of destruction and tried to submit a removal order which was denied.

The online store remains suspended and Govani claims he is now more than $1m in debt and couch surfing with family and friends.

While the source of the complaint isn’t clear there have been reports of deceptive counterfeiting reports being filed to Amazon in order to drive a competitor off the market, according to lawfirm ESQGO, which is representing Govani in a suit against the e-commerce giant seeking $800,000.

“Amazon account suspension is one of the fastest-growing problems marketplace sellers are facing,” says ESQGO.

“In an attempt to crack down on bad players, Amazon has started suspending accounts as a form of punishment.”

The retail giant was forced to defend its actions to stamp out counterfeits at a Congressional hearing in the US in the summer. This year, its French, German and UK sites were listed as “notorious markets” for counterfeits by the US Trade Representative.

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