"A link that is well-sold is suddenly continuously negatively reviewed. When contacting to delete the review, the bad reviewer suddenly finds it and puts out a set of "professional ethics" theory: in order to be responsible to the customer, the order can't be placed before it is finished. Stop, comments that have already been posted, if you want to delete comments, you need to pay."
"The link with a good order was suddenly taken off the shelf. After checking it, it was found that someone maliciously complained about trademark infringement. If you want the other party to withdraw the complaint, you will have to pay money. Able to compromise and spend money.”
"I was placed 200 orders at once, and then returned one by one. Later, I found out that someone asked the service provider to post the task of brushing orders on social media, and then returned the order after placing the order."
These bad things must have been encountered by many cross-border e-commerce sellers, and the black and gray industry chain is the "behind the scenes" who control all this. With the development of cross-border e-commerce, cross-border e-commerce black and gray services such as "bad reviews for competition", "malicious complaints about infringement", "swiping orders and reviews", and "spoofing peers" are also constantly emerging, which greatly hinders cross-border e-commerce. The sound development of the business industry. For example, links to high-quality products that sell well are often removed from the shelves due to malicious complaints.
In the process of conquering the overseas market, the sellers have suffered enough from the loss of black and gray production, and the misery is unbearable. And according to feedback, these black and gray services have become more active this year.
The opening cost is 550,000, and the seller is frequently extorted by "trademark hooligans"
In all black and gray products, it is not uncommon in the industry to squatting trademarks, repeatedly complaining about infringement by sellers, and then asking for money when the sellers can’t bear the torture.
A few days ago, the seller Li An (pseudonym) broke the news to Yien.com that he had 6 links that were subject to trademark infringement complaints, and all the links were taken down by Amazon. , ours is an EU trademark, in class 11 (lamps).”
After the incident, Li An immediately realized that he was being targeted by a "trademark hooligan": "If it is a competitor, he will definitely cause you the most damage when he comes up, and our category is relatively peaceful, and there has been no such thing in recent years. Calls and fights, but now it is obvious that the trademark is registered first, but it has not been put into use on Amazon. If you see a seller who uses this trademark, you will complain to the other party for infringement."
Ang Lee's trademark had been certified in 2018, while the complainant's trademark was submitted at the beginning of this year. According to the fastest certification time in Europe, they only got the certificate soon. In addition, by observing the trademarks of both parties, it can be seen that the complainant obviously exploited the loophole. The trademarks of both trademarks use the same letters, but differ in capitalization. The first letter of Li An's trademark is capital letters, the rest are all lowercase letters, and the other party's trademark uses all capital letters.
"If the review is not strict, in theory, these trademarks can be applied for." Li An said helplessly: "After the trademark is approved, they will complain about which link is selling well on the platform."
Ang Lee's products are sold in several major European countries, and the removal of the link has interrupted their sales, but luckily it was not the main link that was complained. Some of the links that are now complained are seasonal products that have passed the season, some just arrived, and on the other hand, France is not their main site, so the affected sales amount is in the range of one or two thousand euros.
Although the emails sent in the past have not been replied, and the other party has not stated their purpose, Li An knows that their ultimate purpose is to blackmail. "We complained back, and he complained again. It's just like this constantly disgusting people, wanting us to be soft and negotiating with them." Li An said, "trademark hooligans" are using the seller's "can't afford" mentality to commit crimes, "now they 's trademark was also registered, and he could stop our business simply by filing a complaint."
Ang Lee plans to find a lawyer to invalidate the other party's trademark in the next step, and he said helplessly during the tug of war with the complainant: "This year is too difficult, not only is the business difficult, but also this kind of bad thing happened. The hair is growing now."
Ang Lee's experience is not an isolated case. Not long ago, a senior Amazon operator exposed his similar experience on an industry forum. The operator was angry and reluctant to say that someone squatted the trademark of the same name for their product accessories in Germany, and made a detail page infringement complaint on Amazon, and the link was directly taken off the shelf.
Unlike Ang Lee's complaint of the same category, this is a cross-category complaint. According to the operation, their trademarks have been registered in the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom and filed on Amazon. The products are in the category of trademarks, but accessories are not, and accessories and products do not belong to the same category. Unexpectedly, this allowed the "trademark hooligan" to take advantage of the loophole and squatted the trademark of the same name for the accessories in Germany. Then file with Amazon and file an infringement complaint.
Although the link can be appealed back by submitting a trademark certificate, the other party bluntly said that they can not only complain about the infringement of the details page, but also complain about counterfeit products, and complain about the trademark on the packaging of the product, so that the link can be taken off the shelf repeatedly, and even spend 1,000 euros Ask a lawyer to issue a temporary temporary injunction in Germany and freeze the seller's account for up to 28-45 days. During this period, all links to the account will be removed from the shelves.
They tried to invalidate the trademark like Ang Lee. However, according to the operator, their lawyer replied that it would take at least half a year from the beginning of collecting evidence to asking Amazon for the invalidation of the other party's brand and no further complaints.
Sales were interrupted for half a year, which was simply unaffordable for sellers. During the period, they also contacted the service provider, Amazon's investment manager, and even called the police, but they could not solve it effectively.
In the end, the operating company was forced to compromise and traded the trademark, and the extortion amount of the other party was as high as 80,000 euros (about 557,000 yuan at yesterday's exchange rate).
This kind of link that I have worked so hard to create is so easily destroyed by others, that kind of feeling can only be understood by those who have experienced it. In the cross-border e-commerce industry, not only squatting trademark complaints, but also many black and gray product services can destroy the links that sellers have worked hard to build, such as bad reviews.
Entrepreneurship encounters "cross-border bad reviewers", and a former executive of a big seller is not calm
Zhang Lin (pseudonym), who is now in the entrepreneurial period, is a former executive of a listed company. She has never been in contact with cross-border black and gray products before, but has only heard of it. At that time, still can not be completely calm.
Not long ago, Zhang Lin broke the news to Yien.com that one of her products had been badly reviewed for a period of time. At that time, she suspected that it was a spoof by her peers, but because there was no direct evidence, no action was taken.
One day, Zhang Lin suddenly received a letter from an intermediary. The order showed a refund. After adding WeChat, she found that the other party was actually a service provider, and it was obvious that it was a spoofed intermediary. "At that time, I thought that the order was a refund . and gave a lot of bad reviews. Thinking of what happened before, I tried to ask if he did it, but he admitted it and said that someone paid him to do it." When contacted by the service provider with bad reviews, Zhang Lin was surprised at the time.
But sometimes a coincidence can be a deliberate arrangement by someone with a heart. After contacting the service provider, Zhang Lin tried to get the other party to stop posting negative reviews, but she said that the orders placed by others had not been placed, and they would not receive money if they stopped, but if Zhang Lin wanted to delete the negative reviews that had already been posted, You can pay to help delete it. "What he meant at the time was that if others paid, he would provide services, but he also sympathized with our experience and could help delete bad reviews for a fee."
Later, Zhang Lin confirmed that the service provider is taking both sides, first charging other people's money to give the seller a bad review, and then contacting the seller who was badly reviewed, saying that they can collect money to delete the bad review.
Zhang Lin explained: "Later, many orders received information from this service provider. Through these orders, he left a message saying that someone spoofed us and contacted him if he wanted to delete the bad review. Other sellers reported that they had already spent money to remove the bad review. It's almost deleted, but I can still receive other orders, and the same words are given in the comments on these orders."
"This kind of behavior is equivalent to extortion, and we don't want to give him money." Zhang Lin said they had called the police.
But because of these bad reviews, Zhang Lin's product dropped from 4.8 stars to 4.2. In order to eliminate the impact of these negative reviews and raise the score again, more orders need to be obtained, so Zhang Lin needs to invest more in advertising fees and after-sales service. "We lost about 100,000 in this way."
Encountering such a thing during the entrepreneurial period did not dampen Zhang Lin's confidence, nor did she think that the industry was not good. Instead, it strengthened her development ideas for standardized and compliant operations. Apply for registration first, to avoid being squatted and then complaining about infringement or even extorting later like the previous article.
However, the black and gray product service has not decreased because of the seller's compliance operation, but has increased this year.
Rising costs and intensifying involution fuel the development of black ash production
Many sellers have reported that since this year, the frequency of “trademark hooligans” extortion and bad reviews by competitors has occurred more frequently. This is because the increasingly severe involution environment and rising costs provide the soil for the development of black ash production services.
Data shows that Amazon has increased fulfillment fees by more than 30% since 2020. In addition to Amazon, many 3PLs have also raised their fees, such as USPS, FedEx and UPS, which have all raised fees and introduced peak holiday surcharges for the past two years. Not only are logistics costs rising, but sellers’ spending on advertising costs and other costs is also increasing.
On the other hand, the number of sellers is increasing. Marketplace pulse data shows that in 2020, there are 6 million sellers on Amazon, and according to Joughle Scount forecasts, 1.5 million new sellers will join Amazon in 2021. With such a large number of sellers gathered on Amazon, the competition for similar products is becoming more and more fierce. In many cases, searching for a certain keyword will result in dozens of pages of product results.
In this case, in order to make their products visible to consumers, sellers will seek services from black and gray products, and these services may be applied to themselves or competitors.
For example, when it comes to reviewing reviews, people have the inherent impression that sellers will give themselves positive reviews to improve their rankings and increase sales. However, as Amazon’s crackdown on fake reviews has escalated, many sellers have realized that the most effective way to Competitive strategy is not to praise yourself, but to praise your competitors.
This happened to Zach Pransky, a seller from the United States . A product he sells on Amazon has 16 five-star reviews overnight, often with only one review a day for what appears to be a cut-and-paste from elsewhere.
Confused, Zach reported the incident to Amazon just in case, and most of the comments disappeared after a few days, and he went back to work thinking the problem had been fixed.
Unexpectedly, however, two weeks later, he received an email from Amazon. The content of the email showed that Zach had manipulated product reviews on the site, violated Amazon's policies, and sold products that had been removed.
Zach then learned that it was because a competitor had purchased five-star reviews for his product from a service provider. Because of this operation of the competition, the funds in Zach's account were blocked and the link was removed from the shelves. If you want to appeal to get the store back, it will take several weeks. The competitive landscape for sellers on Amazon is changing rapidly, and it is conceivable that when Zach’s link is back on sale, it may not be where it was before.
For sellers, it is not only necessary to monitor negative reviews, but also to be vigilant against positive reviews. However, the application scenarios of black and gray products are not only that, but also include deleting unfavorable comments, malicious drainage, and swiping orders.
For example, some sellers will purchase competing products multiple times through service providers, and then ask them to return them and give negative reviews. As an Amazon seller, you need to ensure that your account has certain indicators. If there are too many returns or too many negative reviews in a short period of time, the product or account will be at risk of being delisted and frozen.
In this gray-black industry chain, service providers will cooperate with some internal Amazon employees to help sellers delete bad reviews, spoof competitors, and restore links that have been removed from the shelves.
Earlier this year, foreign media reported that two New York residents who belonged to a team that specialized in third-party Amazon sellers providing illegal gray products admitted that they were involved in a multi-million dollar scheme to manipulate the Amazon market: through Paying bribes to Amazon employees and contractors to allow them to gain undue benefits for some sellers through their unique authority.
such as obtaining Amazon’s confidential business information; getting suspended third-party sellers and product listings back on the marketplace; circumventing Amazon’s restrictions on certain products; misrepresenting the origin of products to obtain restricted product categories; manipulating customer reviews; and monitoring and Attack other merchants and product listings, etc.
Amazon vigorously rectifies, the sword refers to "cross-border black and gray production"
Black and gray products have damaged the fair competition among sellers, damaged the reputation and image of the platform, and disrupted the order. In recent years, Amazon has been increasing its efforts to crack down on these services to build a fair and healthy business environment.
At the beginning of this year, Amazon issued a notice saying that since 2019, Amazon has assisted and cooperated with the public security organs in Shanghai, Henan and Shanxi to complete the investigation of many cross-border e-commerce gray product organizations and illegal sellers. The illegal acts involved in the case include illegally buying and selling citizens' personal identifiable information and company business licenses in an attempt to register a seller's store on Amazon's overseas site and make a profit from it, making malicious comments, brushing orders, and speculation.
Among the several cases reported by Amazon, in 2021, Amazon assisted the Taiyuan City Public Security Bureau in Shanxi Province to complete an investigation into a case where a Chinese seller who was conducting export cross-border e-commerce business on Amazon maliciously attacked other Chinese sellers. In this case, a seller deliberately made negative comments on the products of the victim seller's store by hiring a relevant service provider, maliciously purchased a large number of products from the victim seller's store and then returned them collectively, which resulted in the victim's store being blocked.
I believe many people still remember that in 2020, there were frequent reports of "illegal service providers being arrested" in the industry. At that time, it was reported that the service provider industry was undergoing a major reshuffle. Many illegal Amazon service providers were arrested and disappeared, while sellers 's account was also implicated in the ban. Some people also broke the news in the circle of friends that the service providers who deleted the bad reviews have been arrested and locked up for dozens of days.
Although the news spread a lot, but because no specific incident was exposed, it gradually fell silent. However, after looking back at the incident after Amazon's official announcement this year, I realized that it was not groundless at the time.
In the process of confrontation between Amazon and the black and gray industry chain, what sellers feel most deeply may be its blow to "fake reviews". Last year, many big sellers were planted on it. In 2020 alone, Amazon said it blocked more than 200 million suspected fake reviews using machine learning models and a dedicated team of employees.
At the same time, in 2021, Amazon also filed a lawsuit against the two largest fraud agencies, AppSally and Rebatest. Just last month, it also filed separate lawsuits against six sites in King County Superior Court in Seattle: ; ; ; ; ;and . The rationale is that these sites give merchants the ability to pay for fake product reviews on Amazon.
According to an analysis by e-commerce consultant Pattern, a one-star increase in product reviews for sale on Amazon can boost sales by as much as 26%, which is why the “review” service exists and continues to be banned. About 42% of the 720 million Amazon reviews assessed in 2020 were fake, according to fraudulent review detection service Fakespot .
It’s not hard to understand why the black and gray products exist, but Amazon has also stated their attitude that they have “zero tolerance” for these behaviors.
In the 2021 Brand Protection Report, Amazon pointed out that last year, Amazon took effective measures to prevent more than 2.5 million abnormal seller account registrations; blocked 4 billion bad product listings on its website, and removed more than 3 million counterfeit products.
These data are enough to prove Amazon's determination to crack down on cross-border black ash production.