If you’re planning on doing a lot of traveling in the coming year, you might want to double check your Amazon orders.
A story recently published on Lifehacker tells the tale of a PayPal engineer named Harper Reed. Mr. Reed ordered a high-end suitcase from a brand called Rimowa. The suitcase usually costs several hundred dollars. Reed ordered the suitcase at full-price and had the order shipped to his house. He assumed the suitcase was legit. Except it wasn’t.
He never got the suitcase, Amazon refunded his $700, and he went on with his life, purchasing the suitcase elsewhere.
Here’s the crappy part: In November, Mr. Reed went to renew his Global Entry Status, which is a Trusted Traveler program for “pre-approved, low-risk travelers” offered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The paid service saves you a lot of time and aggravation at the airport. But while going through the renewal process, Reed’s application was denied. He’d been flagged by the Customs Department for importing counterfeit goods. Yes, that same Rimowa suitcase that he never received was counterfeit. Apparently, even innocently ordering counterfeit goods can get you flagged. You can appeal, but the process takes months.
It’s not exactly clear exactly what occurred, but according to Lifehacker, Customs probably intercepted the shipment of the counterfeit bag as soon as it arrived, then Rimowa was sent a seizure notice with the names of the importer and exporter who are breaking the law. Meanwhile, Reed was refunded for the bag and carried on none the wiser. From there, Rimowa likely had an opportunity to take some kind of action, but since going after the exporter is costly (as is the middle-man, Amazon), they chose the easier target: Reed. He got flagged for importing counterfeits and was thus denied Global Entry.
Amazon still has a huge problem with counterfeit and scams on their marketplace, so it’s important that you pay attention to items you’re buying, especially if they’re being sent from overseas. Remember, sometimes a deal is too good to be true. When in doubt, especially with high-end goods – just buy direct.