iOffer went offline from February 25 to March 4, 2019, saying that it is undergoing maintenance. But in reality, there was a gigantic backlash from the IACC (International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition) with the help of its online payment processing members. Let’s find out what happened and why.
iOffer is an online trading company that believes in being a negotiated e-commerce company rather than being an online auction platform. They claim their model to be better than an auction. The company offers a free listing of various products and charges fees when they are sold. The company also charges for premium listing service, which includes listing on the home page or highlighting some particular product. Seller and buyer of a particular product can negotiate the price. Isn’t it perfect? No. It failed miserably in dealing with counterfeit goods.
iOffer claimed to have 75000 sellers and over a million users in 2008. So, you can understand how you can find ‘anything’ on iOffer, as claimed by the company. But the president of the IACC criticizes that ‘anything’ included literally anything, including counterfeit goods and even some illegal drugs according to many iOffer users.
That’s where the problem started. Many users of the site started complaining about counterfeit goods years ago. Some other users were of the view that users need to be careful while buying an item online. According to them, of course, you cannot buy a Gucci product for 20 bucks. Anyways, complains were rising with the passage of time. But it did not alarm the company itself. And they did not take any preventive measures to tackle the issue.
Here come forward IACC and its partners from the online payment industry. The IACC, through its program named RogueBlock, collected brands and payment partners together. They disrupted online payment processing on iOffer. According to the press release by IACC, counterfeit goods were easy to find on iOffer. This put the users of the site at risk of buying fake products. That is why they took such severe action against iOffer.
According to a report, almost 250 intellectual property rights holding brands reached out to Mastercard via the IACC. After the investigation, online payment processing platforms like Mastercard, reach out to the banks having merchants and vendors. Consumer protection is the ultimate goal in doing all this. Most of the buyers find difficult to know if something is genuine or legal online. That is why the IACC makes sure to take such actions.
Many users of the website received the message from Amazon Pay, Mastercard, etc in this regard. They told the users that they closed their payment accounts as iOffer may have violated their Acceptable Use Policy. Many of iOffer sellers claimed to be selling original goods. They got back to payment platforms like Amazon Pay for the appeal. But they were devoid of doing so.
According to many, this action must have taken years ago, when complaints started rolling in. But better late than never reached. People from IP (Intellectual Property) community praised the action taken by global payment platforms and IACC.
Mastercard is a global payment processing company. It stood by the IACC in its stance on iOffer. They blogged about the issue on their official website. They said that they want every e-commerce activity to be simple, secure and safe. IACC actually named Mastercard in its press release and appreciated the support. I don’t know why they did not mention any other payment platform like Amazon Pay. Maybe they did not directly work with the IACC.
iOffer on its Twitter account said that they have shut down their site for maintenance. The users were extremely frustrated at this. On March 4, they tweeted that the maintenance has been completed and the site is back in action. But the real problem was the denial of payment processing on iOffer due to counterfeit goods.
Many people on the internet debate why iOffer is not shut down forever. First, the company itself shut down the site because of the denial of payment transactions. The reason is that iOffer is basically a bridging company between buyers and sellers. It’s kind of a flea market where sellers can go and rent space to sell their products. It does not manufacture and provide the products itself. This is why iOffer is not shut down forever. Actually, no-one shut down the site. It was just the payments processing on iOffer that was disrupted by the IACC. However, the online trading company needs to take responsibility so that the buyers are protected.
Many reviewers on Consumer Affairs complained about iOffer. While others stated that they are fully satisfied with the site because they only deal with reliable sellers. And they can be recognized through reviews and ratings. Every online trading company has bad sellers. Initially, the site worked pretty well and gained popularity. Afterward, it became a money pot for con-men.
Some people also complained that most of the items sold are from China. And the sellers do not listen to the customer after the purchase is done. They do not deliver products or do refunds. Or sometimes, they take too long to deliver the item. And it’s a total nightmare if, after so much wait, the item delivered was counterfeit.
Counterfeiting is a very large business worth of almost $1.5 trillion, according to the IACC. You can easily be its victim because anything, from clothes to cleaning products, from prescription drugs to sports items, can be fake. E-commerce is growing day by day. Most of the products we need can be found online today. It comes with the challenge of being careful in buying. I hope that you have good experience in online shopping and trading. Do let me know in the comments if you have got a story about counterfeiting, especially on iOffer.