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November 22, 2011

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New luxury authenticity woes

OVERSEAS proxy purchasing businesses selling luxury goods are facing authenticity doubts after their invoices, a crucial way to prove the items are genuine, have been found in mass production and on sale at online stores.

The country's popular e-commerce platform told Shanghai Daily yesterday that it has banned all selling of such invoices on the stores across its platform to prevent anyone using the invoices to cheat customers.

The invoices were being sold at 9 yuan (US$1.41) to 20 yuan each. They covered a total of 20-plus luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and Chanel.

Some sellers indicated that the cheap invoices could be used as "certifications" to show that luxury items were authentic and to prove that they had been purchased from stores in Hong Kong, the United States, or other overseas markets.

Among the invoice sellers, one nicknamed "Xuan Xuan" with a Guangdong Province-based online store told Shanghai Daily that they can print such invoices with any brand, purchasing date, price and store address as the customer requires.

She said that although the fake invoices might be slightly different from those provided by luxury brands' official stores, the customers likely won't recognize the differences because even genuine invoices are not equipped with anti-counterfeiting marks.

In her online store, packaging materials such as bags, strings, dust-proof clothing, which are accessories to some luxury items, were also being sold with a price ranging from 5 yuan to 450 yuan. By paying about 500 yuan, a vendor may get a full set of "certifications" to prove that their goods are genuine, even if the items are cheap fake ones.

Some other sellers said they purchased the invoices from customers at big stores of luxury brands, while some even claimed that they are working in the official shops under the luxury brands to prove that their invoices are "genuine."

But Ben Huang, an official with Gucci, said it's impossible for staff workers in official shops to secretly do the invoice business.

"An invoice can be issued from the shop only when an item has accordingly been sold and removed from the storage," said Huang.


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