NOTE: I update this review from time to time, check back often for the latest info.
***A SPECIAL NOTE ON SIZE***
There is a seller (doctor_perfume OR frag-depot AND NOW perfume_storage) who specializes in minis (0.50 oz, 0.25 oz, 0.17 oz), these sizes are VERY small. I have rcvd emails about him or her being deceitful. I know the feeling, the picture is nice and big and of the real thing, but what you get in the mail is a tiny little bottle. Well, it's not the seller's fault, becuase the size is listed. I have fallen 'victim' of this seller before, but I accept all the blame because I did not read the auction thru and thru. IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO READ THE AUCTION! The main things you are looking for are: size, PayPal acceptance, and shipping. These factors can affect how much you are willing to pay versus how much you are required to pay and therefore it is important to be satisfied with these conditions before bidding.
My strategy: I avoid this seller becuase the sizes are simply too small for me. His/her listings can be easily spotted because title is in ALL CAPS and NEW IN BOX and POPULAR are usually in the heading. Buyer beware!!.
ABOUT ME: I am an avid collector of men's fragrances, most of which I purchased on eBay. Over the years, I have come across a few fakes. Here is what to look for:
1. ANY negative or neutral feedback: If there is a neg feedback, READ it. If any of the neg feedbacks should mention 'fake', 'watered down' 'old', 'leaking', (you get the idea) don't buy from that seller. A lot of times, most people can't tell they just received a fake product and leave positive feedback out of excitement of how cheap it was. However, some people do catch it and leave neg or neutral feedback...use it to your advantage. I just read a neutral feedback to which the seller responded "there have never been any complaints about this product before"...I checked the listing and no where does it mention the authenticity of the product, instead it states "Satisfaction Guranteed". This is a clear indication of fake merchandise.
2. Mixed reviews: I have noticed a lot of fakers do end up with great reviews. Look closely: most of the 'awesome' reviews never mention how the fragrance smells. The best explanation for this is that there is a ring of fakers and they buy from each other to boost each other's ratings. It is not uncommon to find 3 or 4 reviews in a row by the same buyer...be wary. Also, fakers often mix their merchandise. So some people do end up getting originals. And lastly, some fakers will quickly issue a refund if you contact them first about a fake merchandise, just to avoid negative feedback.
3. High shipping cost: this is a tactic used by fakers because most of their auctions don't sell due to neg feedbacks or the listing is suspicious. You might think you are getting a deal at a low cost because you are the only bidder or their are very few bidders, but fakers make their profit on the shipping charges which you must pay. Most authentic cologne listings have a shipping charge of between $4 and $10, becasue that is how much it costs to ship the average bottle of cologne. Any higher is quite suspicious. Odd shipping charges, for example $12.47 or $14.99 are suspicious as well. Round numbers like $5.00 or $7.00 are usually legitimate listings.
4. Not the actual photo: this is a good way to tell if it is fake. Will you buy an item without at least seeing the actual photo of the item? If you can't see a photo of what you are actually getting, be wary of the listing. If there is a photo that looks like the actual item, investigate the photo. If it is not clear and sharp, the seller might be trying to hide something. This is the same reason why they might not include the actual photo.
5. City/State of origin: I will never again buy a cologne out of New York City, simply because it is one of the major source for fake colognes. All the fakes I have received were from NYC. You can buy what appears to be authentic (sealed packages in plastic wrap) in China Town, NYC for a fraction of the cost (I have been there and seen it with my own eyes). In fact the best fakes come out of NYC: colognes, watches purses, hats, sunglasses, you name it. Even if it is not from NYC, but it is from New York state or New Jersey, be wary. I have recieved a number of complaints from sellers in the NYC/New Jersey area...NOT ALL SELLERS FROM THIS REGION SELL FAKES, so don't let this be your only discriminating factor. If the city is not listed, be careful Where is "Anywhere, USA" and "Good deals, USA"? I don't know, do you?
6. Seller's other items: Check the seller's other items. The best deals I have gotten from eBay were from sellers who are not making a living by selling on eBay. They simply are getting rid of a fragrance they got as a gift or they no longer like the way it smells. I have also bought from people who normally don't sell colognes, but found some great liquidation deal somewhere. The listings are very simple and aren't fancy at all, just an average Joe who has a bottle of "smellgood" he or she no longer cares for.
7. Protect yourself: if the seller doesn't offer money back guarantee, or does not accept PayPal, be wary. I once bought a cologne from an individual who only accepted money orders. I never received the cologne after sending the money order. Remember, a money order is a good as cash; once it leaves your hands, it is gone forever. The times I have recieved fake products, I sent them back and got a refund. This will still cost you return shipping, so it is better to try and spot the fakers before buying. Also if there are grammatical erorrs in the listing, be wary. The information should be clear and written in good English.
8. Do some research: By reading this, you are doing one of the best things to do: conducting some basic research. Be familiar with the product before you buy it. Maybe you ran out and you want some more...don't throw away the old bottle as it might be the clue you need to spot a fake. If you bought a cologne already and you can't tell it is fake, take it with you to a mall or local retailer and compare the bottle AND the fragrance. The difference if any, should become obvious.
9. Sold items: If a seller has consistently sold a popular perfume or cologne for a ridiculously cheap price, say for example a Chanel perfume for $6 (retails for about $70), or a 4.0 oz bottle of Creed for $42 (retails for almost $200), I would be very wary of such a seller. You can see how much the auction sold for by looking at the feedbacks. Consider this: how long can you sell at a loss and still be able to afford more products for sale? That said, if all the seller sells is Chanel and Acqua di Gio and Gaultier, I will never buy from 'em.
Here are some very commonly counterfeited colognes and perfumes on eBay to be aware of:
Chanel (all perfumes and some colognes)
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male and some Fleur du Male
Issey Miyake L'eau D'Issey except for the summer variants
Armani Acqua di Gio
Armani Black Code (also known as Armani Code)
Creed Silver Mountain Water
Creed Green Irish Tweed
Creed Millesime Imperial
Sean John Unforgiveable
Christian Dior J'adore
Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue
Ralph Lauren Romance
Vera Wang Princess
and a bunch more!
Andrew P. aka Andrewthecologneguy