Imagine that you go to your local Police Precinct about an issue, maybe something was stolen. You saw who did it and have pictures of them stealing your property. What’s more you have proof that they’re selling your stolen property openly, telling buyers of your property what a great deal they’re getting. And the Police turn to you and say…
“Sorry, but there are too many criminals in our city for us to track all of them. It’s not our responsibility what they do in the city.”
“But I have the proof right here. This is a specific criminal. They are openly selling my property!”
“Well, talk to our task force about it. They’re handling things like this.”
Ultra-large retailers like Amazon, Walmart, AliExpress, and recently Temu seem to love this kind of run around. If you can even find an email, phone number, or chat that is actually tasked with handling copyright, trademark, or patent infringement problems on their service then you’re lucky. (Actually, if you do know where to contact these services about counterfeit products then please let me know. I did find Temu’s)
They say there are too many independent shoppes using their service and they can’t police them all. Meanwhile they are receiving their little fee or cut of all those shoppes selling what is obvious, pirated, counterfeit product. And buyers who just see a great deal keep on buying. Don’t services like Amazon care that stolen property is being sold through their platform? You would think they would.
Meanwhile Artists and Authors have to watch and see thier creative hard work being sold by a stranger for profit, funds which the author or artist will never receive even a fraction of.
Recently I found a, new to me, outlet that sells all of those inexpensive products from China. It’s called Temu and I placed and received an order that I was pretty satisfied with. Returning to the Temu app I started browsing and happened across an Oracle deck that I had recently purchased myself elsewhere. But in this case it was selling far below its usual price. I looked further on this specific shop and saw multiple, dozens of, decks all being sold far lower than creators of those decks would normally allow. These were obviously pirated decks where the copyright holder was receiving none of the profits on the sale.
So I looked around in the Temu app for customer service and found a phone number and a chat link. As it was a Sunday I decided to use the chat and ended up being passed between the automated chat-bot and two others who claimed to be real people. The questions I asked were never directly answered. After being persistent and direct, I don’t think I let my jerk-personality out, over a little time I ended up with the following response…
“Intellectual property issues, including copyright, trademark, or patent infringement, are handled by a dedicated team. To receive professional support, please contact email@example.com directly. Thank you for your cooperation.”
That last bit about “cooperation” sounded like they were saying I shouldn’t have asked about this and I was being an unruly customer. Or I might be imagining that…
Ana Tourian — Deck Creator
Recently Ana Tourian did a video on YouTube about counterfeit decks and she goes into great detail about the whole problem. She has created a number of her own decks and obviously knows a counterfeit deck when she sees it, especially when it’s one of her own decks. Here’s a link to her video, well worth the watch…
Counterfeit Decks and how to spot them
Some of Ana Tourian’s recommendations:
- Pay attention to the listing where the deck is being sold.
- She goes into details of what to look at in the listing to verify legitimacy.
- Check the QR code for the product.
- Counterfeit decks will not have the correct code.
- Check Unboxing videos on YouTube to see the actual deck.
- Make sure they are unboxing the original deck, not also a counterfeit.
My Amazon Experience
A month or two before writing this piece I had been looking for a specific deck on Amazon. I was surprised to find it listed there at a much lower price than I had expected. After realizing it was counterfeit and deciding to report this I tried to find the place to report it. Again I ended up in chat with no answers being given to my questions, even though I provided the name of the seller where the product was being sold. I gave up and decided to post a review on the Amazon webpage for the product stating that it was a counterfeit deck. At least I had done something.
A day or two later I received an email from Amazon telling me that I had violated the standards for posting a review and the review had been deleted. Likely, although I can only guess, the sellers had reported my review to Amazon and some aspect of it was enough to have it deleted.
Why Does All This Matter?
If you’re not a collector or user of Tarot and Oracle Decks then all of this may seem unimportant. Setting aside the specific things that a Tarot Reader looks for in a deck it may be easy to say this is just a pack of cards. No Big Deal. And it is just a pack of cards. But money is changing hands when these decks are purchased, like any product a buyer should be assured of quality, materials, and provenance of a product. Following are some additional things to consider…
- The creator of the deck is not being paid for their work.
- Any person’s livelihood should be respected. We are all trying to make a living, pay bills, and so on as best we can. Deck creators have a right to be paid.
- Buyers are no longer able to trust that they will receive a deck in the format and quality that the author or artist intended.
- Businesses will lose money and customers if they are widely know as being outlets for counterfeit products.
- Stealing is just wrong.
- If a society tolerates criminal activity then in many ways they are complicit with it. That’s my personal opinion about it.
→ For more information on this topic see my followup post: Oracle and Tarot Deck Pirating — A Followup