In the years I have sold Trollbeads as an authorized dealer I have been well aware of the counterfeit Trollbeads being sold on Ebay. I have written about the situation in the past and at this point I feel very strongly I need to address it once more. Before writing this blog I read various reports and posts about the negative effects all counterfeiting has on brands and it is very troublesome to me that so many collectors still choose to buy their Trollbeads from unknown sources through Ebay. If I can do anything for you the collector and for Trollbeads to help inform you of the situation I want to do it. If you don’t want to take my word on the negative effects counterfeiting has on a brand please go to the links I have at the end of this blog and read some of the research. For those of you who do shop on Ebay and may save a few dollars in the short run, in the long run you lose so much more including faith and respect for a brand... when in actuality they have nothing to do with your perceptions.
Counterfeiting is illegal and it's running rampant in the bead world. Counterfeiting is one of the first steps of destroying a brand. This is true for a variety of reasons. You would think the obvious reason is the brand loses sales because consumers are buying from the counterfeit sellers but there are actually many negative effects beyond the obvious. The most important one is the gradual degradation of the brand. Think of it. If you purchase beads from the counterfeiter sellers on Ebay and are led to believe they are authentic Trollbeads and you are unhappy with the quality, it’s the brand that gets the black eye. Not the counterfeiter and not the seller. The perceived value of any company is lowered when this occurs. If you are wondering how someone can make beads look so much like Trollbeads let me tell you. There are numerous companies in China that can copy any product, any packaging and any brand logo out there. In one of the articles I read there is somewhere around 17 “LaCoste” manufacturers in China so take that a step further and imagine how much easier it is to mold beads than it is to sew clothes and stay up with seasonal fashion changes. As a dealer of Trollbeads I get promotional emails monthly from Chinese companies saying they can copy Trollbeads, Pandora etc. at a fraction of the cost and would I like to purchase from them? Not only do they claim it but they also offer to send me free samples to prove it. It was estimated in one report that China is responsible for 60% of all counterfeit products. So why do I drag Ebay in on this? Because it is the only market place for these beads to be sold and they sell thousands. I have purchased various beads through the years for research and with some I can tell the difference with the naked eye but there were some I could not tell the difference without clloser examination. That is scary because if I can’t tell how can the average collector make the call?
This brings me to a comment that came in as a response to my last article, “My thoughts on the State of Trollbeads.” I didn’t publish the comment as I did all the others and I'm grateful I didn’t as it would have been detrimental to Trollbeads because after all was said and done it ended up being a complaint about a counterfeit Trollbead! This consumer wrote she purchased a Daisy bead from an “official TB dealer” and went on about her dissatisfaction with the quality of the bead and perhaps that this is the problem with the current state of Trollbeads. I have seen absolutely no down turn in quality so after reading her comment I reached out to her to ask her why she didn’t send the Daisy bead back to the retailer to make it right as she owed it to them and to Trollbeads to do so and I wanted her to be satisfied with her purchase. She responded that she couldn’t because she had purchased it on Ebay. So this goes to point out just how damaging counterfeits are. Even though she was told by a jeweler that the gold area was a wash (Trollbeads have solid 18K Gold) she still thought she had an Authentic Trollbead. She explained that she thought that she was safe because the dealer has a 100% rating. On one of my investigative purchases when I knew the beads to be fake I wrote to the Ebay dealer and told him that I knew he sold me counterfeit Trollbeads and I wanted to return them and get my money back. I was then informed that if I gave them a 100% positive rating I would get my money back and I didn’t even need to return the beads. I forfeited the money and threw out the beads and gave a bad rating but who wouldn’t go for the refund thus supporting this false rating system? The rating system on Ebay has NO merit so don’t make your purchasing decision based on that. I am not publishing this woman’s comment here to show how she was “taken” but to illustrate just how consumers can be led to believe something is real when it isn’t and to illustrate that although Trollbeads had nothing to do with this transaction or the bead, they were hurt. This is just one example so take this experience and multiply by thousands and you can see how the brand is hurt that many times over.
Her comment: "I'm writing to explain my own personal feelings about buying TB because I am frustrated. I’ve only been a TB buyer for a couple of years – my girlfriend has an amazing collection and I fell in love. Money is tight for me so I don’t have a large collection. But I had some extra money last May and decided to splurge on the “Triple Daisy”. I had to order online because there are no dealers in my area, but they were an official TB retailer. When it arrived I was put off a bit - I didn’t swoon over it like I had my girlfriend’s bead. Something was amiss. I ran over to my girlfriend’s and we compared both beads side by side (her TD is several years older). Well, they weigh the same and the LAA stamping is the same. But her daisies are much more detailed than mine, more “cupped”. Mine are flat like plates. Around the edges of each daisy, where it should look like two daisies lying one on top of the other, her petals are very distinct, while mine look thick and stuck together. Her bead is carefully antiqued while mine has only a "spill" of antiquing on part of one daisy. Hers is very finely finished and polished - every tiny little anther is easily distinguished, despite being worn daily. Conversely, on my brand new bead, my daisy centers are criss-crossed lines through a lump of metal. Although my bead has some polishing on the inside (where the chain goes), there are still heavy tool markings and it’s black, as if all the antiquing ran into there. I sent photos to Trollbeads, and Lasse was kind enough to reply, but his response was not what I expected. He said he could not confirm authenticity and suggested I have a metallurgical test done. He made no comment on the workmanship. I took it to my jeweler who confirmed it is real silver with a gold wash over the daisy centers. But he wasn't impressed with the workmanship and couldn't believe what I paid for it."
I wish I could say this was the only story like this I have heard but sadly it is not.
So consider this my first step, on a grassroots level, to help Trollbeads. (refer to my last blog) I have illustrated with this one situation and if you care about Trollbeads and want to be sure you are buying Trollbeads, purchase ONLY from Authentic Trollbeads dealers. It’s time to clean up the marketplace one bead at a time. In 2009 the former FBI chief of organized crime was quoted as saying that counterfeiting will become the crime of the 21st Century.*
*Please note I have refrained from writing on this issue before this because I know there are valid collector/sellers on Ebay and didn't want to hurt their efforts. I feel the immediate detriment to Trollbeads from these bad dealers is large enough to warrant this all out appeal. Stay away from the large Ebay dealers.
The Impact of Counterfeiting on Genuine Brand Relationships
The Affect of Counterfiet Products on Luxury Brands*