Amazon has been making good progress in protecting seller’s brands, but the problem of hijacking still exists. And not only does it exist, but it’s effects are very real.

We have a brand that for a couple of specific reasons keeps getting denied for the Brand Registry. If we could simply change the brand on it to one of the registered brands we have, we could solve the problem. Unfortunately, Amazon stopped letting sellers change brands on items. So all we can do is watch the listings get pretty much ravaged.

Apparel sellers, mostly (but not all) from foreign countries, have made a sport out of hijacking established listings with good rank. The problem with this, especially in the novelty t-shirt category, is that businesses who produce t-shirts set their own variables. Variables that are almost impossible for someone else to reproduce. These variables can include ink colors, blanks used, application methods and more. Many of our items, for example, are custom made so we know no one else is selling the exact same item.

Customers will expect X and receive Y. This leads to an unpleasant customer experience. Repeat buyers will be especially confused if they first purchase from a brand owner and then a hijacker. The items simply won’t match.

Then there are the reviews. While looking through some listings today I found some reviews that can only be explained by sales fulfilled by hijackers.

Some examples:

Too large. Material is weird. Almost like costume material. Looks like the picture though (The title said the shirt was “shiny” – We don’t sell shirts that fit this description. In fact, we know this is about someone else’s shirt because that particular color/size has been out of stock for us for months.)

Not as advertised, was not cotton at all. (Our shirts are cotton.)

Awful bought for a toddler, for a 6’2 200lb grown man (Definitely not ours.)

I ordered a youth medium for my fit 9 year old… it was almost too snug on a 6 year old.
I ordered a youth large for my 10 year old son and this shirt would comfortably fit my average sized husband. Very frustrating. We were supposed to have our announcement photos taken tomorrow 😡 (Our shirts are pretty true to size.)

The reviews go on and on. Unfortunately for us, these were well established, highly ranked items that accounted for thousands of sales per year. Guess what has happened to those sales? Nosedives all around.

Reviews for hijacked t-shirt listings seem to follow a common thread. The items are too small (Asian sizing), not cotton (they are usually polyester so they can use sublimation to decorate), have grainy images (pixel to pixel design theft), and poorly printed. Not exactly stellar characteristics to have on your own t-shirt reviews, are they?

For a company that is all about the “customer experience,” Amazon has been slow to respond to the issue. They have made a very good effort to address brand owner concerns and intellectual property rights, but they need to do more.

They should include the seller name in the reviews in addition to the size/color variant they now include. That way, buyers could see which sellers have positive reviews for their items and which ones don’t. As they make progress in removing the hijackers and fraudsters from their site, they should also remove the reviews left for the sales those sellers made.

In the meantime, I’ll lament the lost sales on our hijacked shirts and hope something changes soon.