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  1. #1
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    Default Phony Blue de Chanel & Issey Miyake L'eau D'issey Flood eBay

    In my work as a freelance journalist, I just completed a project on two of the fragrances that seem to be seriously flooding eBay auctions these days: Bleu de Chanel and Issey Miyake L'eau D'issey (Masculine). The point of the piece was to verify the authenticity of popular fragrances auctioned on eBay. I randomly chose these two basically because I had encountered them so often, typically starting at $0.01.

    Working with regional reps of both fragrances, we purposely overbid on a half-dozen bottles of at least 100ml-sized examples of both fragrances.

    Bleu's auction proceeds routinely range from $40-50 a bottle (highest on weekends, lowest on weekdays). The auctions are hard to miss, because the sellers keep relisting them for sale. Almost all of the auctions for Bleu in the 3.4oz size use the same two photographs - a stock Chanel image or a slightly more blurry amateur-looking photo of the box. The sellers were located primarily in New Jersey, New York, Michigan and California.

    All advertised Bleu as factory-sealed and new, satisfaction guaranteed.

    L'eau D'issey in the 4.2oz size was coincidentally sold by most of the same sellers, usually achieving bids in the $35-45 range (again, highest on weekends). Stock images of the box and fragrance bottle predominate in these auctions.

    Over the last week, we received all dozen bottles of both fragrances.

    Working with company representatives, we quickly determined every last bottle was fake/counterfeit. Not a single one contained pure, authentic fragrance from either company.

    I have to say I was not terribly surprised to find so many Chanel fakes. Chanel explains their inventory control system is legendary for strictly policing its distribution chain. Chanel carefully monitors its authorized retailers and typically destroys irregulars, older stock, or other returns. It also has a legal team which pursues counterfeit-stocking retailers and websites that misappropriate its trademarks and sell knock-offs. But dealing with phonies on eBay has always been a "buyer-beware" affair because eBay steadfastly refuses to police auctions until after the sale is complete.

    The Chanel packages we received, we were told, were much better than the counterfeits from just eight months ago, where irregular sized boxes and poor box printing were telltale signs of fakery. The latest generations of faked Bleu are enclosed in boxes that are nearly indistinguishable from the originals. Embossed style printing is now the norm, and the box bottom is closer to the original as well. The only warning sign looking at the box was the hardly readable shiny black ingredients list on very dark blue box. You don't know you've been had until you slip the bottle out of the box.

    The Chanel representative needed less than a minute to judge every bottle we had purchased as phony. Here is what gave it away:

    Although the box itself was nearly spotless and professionally wrapped, the bottle was another story. It had a hazy film of what could have been fingerprints or fragrance oil on it. The supposedly factory-fresh bottle also had irregular fine swirls of scratches across the face and some irregular spots on the bottle bottom. Just hold one up in bright sunlight and it becomes instantly visible. The top part of the bottle had a diagonal seam inappropriate for authentic Bleu de Chanel, the phony bottles lack any engraved serial numbers, and the truest test of all -- the poorly replicated phony caps.

    Authentic Bleu bottle caps, I was told, are magnetic and require no force to hold themselves to the bottle. Two of the phonies we received had magnetic caps slightly larger than authentic Chanel, but they were weaker. Also, real Bleu caps automatically align themselves to position the "C" logo straight with the face of the bottle. Phonies do not. The newest three fakes don't even bother, instead using a cap with seams within that hold the bottle cap in place through pressure. No magnets at all. If you have to apply pressure to press down the bottle cap, you have a fake.

    Old advice regarding the place of manufacture does not apply anymore. Although every fake we received said Made in France, authentic Chanel sold in North America retailers can come from France or the United States, and state so on the bottle.

    You can also forget about the old "air bubble" test. Authentic fragrance, it is said, always comes with visible air bubbles in the sprayer line. But now counterfeiters are making sure to leave visible air bubbles as well.

    Issey Miyake L'eau D'issey is sold on eBay in large bottles at low prices, but what you often end up with is a poor substitute. Of the six fake bottles we bought, three were judged to be likely the original scent heavily diluted with rash-causing cosmetic-grade alcohol (or worse), one was loaded with another scent the representative couldn't identify, and two were judged to be offshore knockoffs, probably from China.

    Nobody wanted to spray any of this stuff on our persons, so we used scent strips (Chanel has special blotter-type paper they can use that comes closer to a real-skin experience) instead. The diluted scents were gone within the hour, the substitute fragrance lingered much longer, but definitely wasn't the L'eau D'issey experience, and the knockoffs left an overload of floral scents, but none of the complexity of the original scent.

    The regional representative likened it to a top-note drive-by. The offshore makers put all of their effort into making the scent pass the first two minutes sniff test, when browsing shoppers often make a purchase decision. What happens after that doesn't matter to them, as long as it results in a quick sale.

    We found spelling errors on two bottles, always a dead giveaway. But the others were much harder to tell. The sprayer often helped. If yours spits out droplets instead of a mist, you have a fake. Also look for mispositioned labels.

    Both representatives stress that most of the fakes are served up to the street vendor market, especially in major cities. Some use authentic fragrance as testers, but sell the fake boxes. The eBay phenomenon has become a side business for many of these vendors and their friends and associates. The worst problems come from sellers in New York City and nearby locations, especially northern New Jersey. But Michigan has become a growing problem, especially near Chicago. California, for some unknown reason, has been the least of their problems.

    The snowbird factor has also created a growing faker problem in central Florida. Retiring New Yorkers relocating to Florida sometimes take their counterfeit fragrance business to the enormous flea markets which pop up across this part of Florida. So eBay sellers in that region can be an issue as well.

    Most of the street vendors buy from distributors that purchase knockoffs manufactured and sold in large quantities from China. Here is a great example. Note the boxes and the category: Chemicals / Chemical Waste / Cosmetics Chemicals.

    Chanel says any sale outside of their authorized channel of retailers should be automatically suspect. Issey Miyake's authentic fragrances do get sold outside of higher end retailers, so spotting the real ones becomes more difficult there. Both companies obviously suggest dealing with retail stores they already work with.

    But both also admit counterfeits have turned up at retail stores as well, thanks to dishonest employees that steal original stock to sell themselves and replace it with phony products. It happens rarely, however, and company representatives usually discover it before shoppers do.

    I asked why fragrance companies don't develop better authenticity verifiers, such as hologram stickers, routinely etched serial numbers on bottles and boxes, and other similar methods. Higher end fragrances already have some of these verifications on them, others are under study, but the costs to implement them one step ahead of the fakers has made it a never-ending race. Until something better comes along, the simple best advice to consider is being wary of especially popular fragrances sold in larger bottles, especially from sellers who seem to have a never-ending supply of product to sell. Stock photos are another warning sign.

    After we were through discovering the phonies, I contacted each of the sellers who were absolutely consistent in their responses:

    a) They denied knowledge of selling fakes, suggesting they obtained them themselves from distributors and had no way to know.
    b) They said they would rethink using those vendors in the future.
    c) Every last one refunded our money within the hour of complaining, and suggested we dispose of the bottles ourselves and not bother returning them. It's harder to give negative feedback to someone who returns your money and waives the usual "return in 7 days for full refund" policy. But it also suggests they weren't too surprised, asking the buyer for more information they could use as ammunition against their distributor.
    d) All of them continued to sell the same fragrance in new auctions to future unsuspecting buyers, who often gave the sellers positive feedback, mostly for getting a nicely-sealed box shipped free and promptly. Whether they had the chance to smell the fragrance and understand what they were getting was a whole other story.

    Buyer beware.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Phony Blue de Chanel & Issey Miyake L'eau D'issey Flood eBay

    One last point about eBay feedback.

    Because of the way eBay is structured, the moment a seller refunds your money, the ability to leave feedback for that seller is taken away, which is another good reason why sellers who deal in fakes can still keep positive feedback ratings. A fast refund takes away the ability for the buyer to notify others about the veracity of the fragrance on offer.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Phony Blue de Chanel & Issey Miyake L'eau D'issey Flood eBay

    Thanks for taking the time to write this, it was very informative.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Phony Blue de Chanel & Issey Miyake L'eau D'issey Flood eBay

    Just wanted to say thanks for this post. I bought Bleu De Chanel on ebay without reading this first.

    99.9% sure its going to end up being a fake so hopefully i get my money back. I knew it was too good to be true. Darn!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Phony Blue de Chanel & Issey Miyake L'eau D'issey Flood eBay

    Fake Chanels have been a problem for many years. One reason may be that their bottles are relatively easy to reproduce. Many if not most of the fake fragrances are produced in China. As most of the Ebay sellers do not presumably have the same suppliers as the major department stores, it is no surprise that this problem persists.

  6. #6
    Super Member Erok32's Avatar
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    Default Re: Phony Blue de Chanel & Issey Miyake L'eau D'issey Flood eBay

    I just received a blatantly fake bottle fro mebay today. Packaging was perfect, but the bottle had fingerprints, chipped paint, and a crooked atomizer. The fragrance also was definitely not bleu de chanel :/

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