In response to a consumer counterfeit Duracell® purchase complaint, The Counterfeit Report®, a counterfeit researcher and popular consumer website, made an independent purchase of 30 Duracell® AA and 10 Duracell® AAA batteries from Walmart.com. Duracell confirmed the Duracell® branded batteries received were counterfeit.
Could you identify a fake Duracell battery?
Shown: Authentic Duracell® AA Battery (top), Counterfeit AA Battery (bottom). The label can be easily peeled off the counterfeit Duracell Battery.
(Image: The Counterfeit Report®)
How can counterfeit Duracell batteries be sold on Walmart.com?
Walmart is an authorized Duracell retailer, likely one of the largest in the world. However, consumers shopping on Walmart.com may be surprised to learn that Walmart lends its online venue to third party merchants (“Marketplace Vendors”) that sell under the Walmart.com umbrella. If you look closely at the Walmart.com listing below, you will see the reference to the third party merchant who is actually supplying the counterfeit Duracell product. Marketplace items are not returnable to Walmart.com or Walmart stores.
After The Counterfeit Report's purchase, Walmart distanced itself from the dispute and referred The Counterfeit Report to the Marketplace Vendor for resolution. Walmart simply had no process in place known to customer service to report the counterfeit items.
After five calls and two-and-a-half hours on the phone, The Counterfeit Report reached Nicholas Waldmann, Director of Trust and Safety at Walmart, who offered some clarification. Mr. Waldmann confirmed that counterfeits are “something we are not used to, or expect. Walmart has a prohibited items policy, and merchants, third parties are to comply with that policy.”
Mr. Waldmann added “we do not allow consumers to sell - you can’t just come in and sell whatever you want. Walmart is famous for vetting its 3rd party suppliers.” But, that statement doesn’t bear out for this seller, with a Walmart consumer satisfaction rating of just 67% in 1,615 reviews. Yet, despite the poor ratings and counterfeit sales, the Marketplace Vendor remains.
Waldmann added, “Its true, Walmart doesn’t have a counterfeit web form to report fakes. We just don’t call it out - we have almost never seen counterfeits on the Marketplace.” An interesting paradox, as Walmart does not provide a “Report Item” feature on the item listing page to submit or capture counterfeit complaints, and customer service wouldn’t accept any information from The Counterfeit Report on the identified counterfeit. How does a consumer notify Walmart of a counterfeit item?
e-Commerce websites including Alibaba/AliExpress®, Amazon®, eBay®, and Facebook® have become ideal and successful platforms for counterfeiters and dishonest sellers to distribute $1.7 trillion in counterfeit products in the US and globally. Lending a globally recognized retailer brand name to these dishonest sellers may benefit the retailer’s short term profits, but downstream consequences and loss of consumer confidence can be severe.