On eBay, numerous fake graphic cards may currently be in circulation. Third-party merchants offer so-called brand models, in some cases significantly below market prices – but deliveries then only contain cheap copies, according to recent test by the German industry magazine c’t. The journalists also take a critical view on the actions taken by eBay, which according to them profits from the trade with counterfeit products: In the test purchases, refunds were granted only reluctantly and there were no visible sanctions against the counterfeiters.
For their test, reporters of c’t magazine had bought eight GTX-1060 graphics cards of the Nvidia brand on eBay, which Chinese dealers had put on offer there. On inspection by c’t’s experts, all eight models turned out to be fakes. The delivered graphic cards for example featured ports and GPU chips not normally seen on the original devices; sometimes components of the supposedly brand-new graphic cards also showed a manufacturing date of 2012.
Reclaiming the money spent on the fake goods via eBay proved to be difficult, according to c’t: The official complaint via eBay’s buyer protection, which is offered in cooperation with the online payment service PayPal, did not lead to a full refund, the magazine reports. In some cases, the testers were asked to submit an expert opinion of the goods before the platform was willing to reimburse the costs – and even then, eBay asked for a proof of return to China at the buyer’s own expense in one case. Meanwhile, the retailers themselves appeared to try to stall the buyers until the deadlines for complaints on eBay had expired. The largest part of the refunds was only paid out after the magazine turned to eBay’s and PayPal’s press departments. According to c’t, however, one claim for refund still remains open.
What’s more, there seem to be no sanctions at all imposed on the counterfeiters, as far as the c’t could see; the eight merchants in question are still active on the platform. In fact, eBay even creates a very simple loophole for the fraudsters, as c’t explains: if merchants voluntarily refund the buying price after a customer complaint, eBay’s does not consider the case as relevant for buyer protection. The counterfeiters might then continue selling their goods on the platform.
There has been criticism of eBay’s measures against the sale of counterfeits before. Last year, the online marketplace introduced an authentication service for certain brands. However, the service only covers luxury handbags and only in the USA. With the recent test purchases by c’t, there is the question as to how far eBay’s co-earnings from trade with counterfeits actually hinder brand protection on the platform – similar to the discussion about the retail giant Amazon.