Last spring, I began searching eBay, trying to build up my Tommy Bahama collection in preparation for summer and the beach. I won a few shirts and then tried to resell one when it didn't fit appropriately. While the item was up for sale, I was bombarded with private messages from eBay members, usually with 0 feedback, directing me to their website of "authentic designer goods."
If you visit TradeKey.com, you can search for "Tommy Bahama" or even by particular style. All of the items shown will be made in China, some even advertised as "authentic." TradeKey.com basically connects the "average Joe" to a Chinese supplier of the desired merchandise. By doing so, they supplement the growth of the worldwide counterfeit market and more importantly, the number of fake merchandise on eBay. If anyone can get on TradeKey, buy a Tommy Bahama for $15, have it in hand within 5 days, and sell it on eBay for $50 (and get away with it). They will start replicating this highly profitable scam more and more. Thousands of eBay sellers are doing just this and most are making lots of money selling knock-off merchandise to unsuspecting buyers.
A recent search showed the following TB embroidered styles as being counterfeited and in stock: Harley Davidson (TB has never made a Harley style), Swizzle Inn, Poker Pirate, Dr. Cocktail, Sail Fast - Live Slow, Holiday Survival Kit, Paradise Open, Martinis & Bikinis, Hi-Note Cafe, Starry Starry Nights, Sail's Call, King's Club Poker Room, Paradise Island (Life's A Beach...), Chairman of the Board, Cafe Paradise, Island Financial Planner, Hotel Bombay Lounge, Ride the Tip, Weekends Weekdays Whatever, Serve Thrilled & Chilled, Barefoot Bar, and BikiniTini.
So, in closing, what can you do to prevent yourself from buying a fake TB shirt?
1) Only buy merchandise on eBay from authorized Tommy Bahama resellers. eBay member "buytommy" has compiled a list of reputable eBay sellers dealing authentic TB merchandise.
2) Familiarize yourself with which styles are most readily counterfeited before buying. I don't buy any styles listed above, solely for the reason that the risk they are counterfeit is too high.
3) Make sure the seller shows actual photos and many of them. Stay away from listings that only feature a photo of the embroidered design or one picture of the shirt from a distance. Demand actual photos of the neck tag, retail tag, style #, and color. Color should not be listed as a primary color. TB lists colors such as cherry, tangerine, sea island blue, camel, etc. If the buyer says the shirt is "red", ask what color the tag says it is. If it's not on the tag, chances are it's fake!
4) To absolutely confirm it's an authentic shirt, take it to a Tommy Bahama retail store or an authorized retail dealer. Let it be known that there are fake TBs being sold in retail markets too. Some smaller boutiques around the country are importing these fake shirts from China and selling them at full retail price!
*Finally, there are some great deals on eBay, but thousands of fake items. When buying, keep in mind how easy it is for a seller to obtain a counterfeit shirt, and keep your guard up! Ask questions! Demand multiple actual photos and a quality item description!
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