Everybody loves a discount, almost as much as they love Amazon Prime fast and free shipping. But sometimes a “discount” is a gamble that’s not worth taking.
You might think you’re getting a cheap sex toy with quick and discrete shipping. But in reality, you might be signing up for a bacterial infection, little pleasure, and your money and time wasted.
Amazon Counterfeits: The Ongoing Issue That Started in 2014
It was early 2014 when I first heard about the loud case related to Amazon’s knock-offs and counterfeits.
A cosmetics brand Lush was suing Amazon for advertising using keywords such as ‘Lush Bath Products’ and then directing customers to the knock-offs. The products had multiple mentions of Lush in their name yet were not made by Lush.
Within a few years, famous companies like Nike and Birkenstock withdrew their products from Amazon, due to the high number of counterfeits sold there.
Over the years, the problem of Amazon offering fake, mislabeled products has become so widely spread that big publishers like The New York Times, The Guardian started bringing our attention to it.
Amazon tries to block any counterfeit products they spot, but due to the way orders are being fulfilled – which we’ll discuss later – it’s difficult to detect fake low-quality products.
In mid-2020, Amazon announced a new Counterfeit Crimes Unit. Amazon plans to take legal action against counterfeiters, posing as branded products.
So will the Counterfeit Crimes Unit be enough?
It may, but because of the enormity of the company, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort on everyone’s part.
And let’s face it – sex toys – are still very niche products. It’s doubtful they’re high on Amazon’s priority list.
But regardless of what you order, you can still never be 100 percent certain if Amazon has solved the counterfeiting problem in full.
And, how big of a solution will this really be?
Today we’re going to explore the world of Amazon counterfeits and knock-offs in an area too taboo for the mainstream media: sex toys.
Is buying sex toys on Amazon safe in 2023?
Sources: The Drum, Inc, CNBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, Amazon
How Do People Get Counterfeits on Amazon?
Amazon is a multi-billion dollar company, and in 2019, it surpassed Walmart as the largest retailer in the world. With the company’s size and wealth, it’s easy to assume nothing gets past them.
They’re quick to block accounts with suspicious payment activity, and I myself have experienced excellent customer support, with them often sending follow-up emails months after an issue resolves.
Unfortunately, it’s still fairly easy to trick Amazon.
Most of The Goods on Amazon Come from Third Party Sellers
Jeff Bezos himself has revealed that over half of the sales on Amazon are coming from third-party (in other words – independent) sellers.
There are three ways a third-party seller can choose to sell goods through Amazon.
The first is to store and sell items on their own. This is good for small businesses with warehouses and artists who make-to-order.
But it’s also highly convenient for those selling items Amazon may not approve of – like counterfeit goods.
They can also choose to store the products in Amazon’s Warehouses using one of the options below:
Option A: A seller pays a higher fee and has their product stored separately.
Option B: The seller’s product is thrown in with the rest of the items that have the same manufacturer barcode.
Option B is cheaper and allows for faster delivery. As long as the products have the same barcode, they are the same, right?
Let’s have a closer look at it.
Shopping For One, Receiving Another
Thousands if not millions of products are being handled by Amazon every day.
Their process is simple: rather than scanning the labels on the product itself, they rely on scanning the outer labels. And if a seller makes a mistake with labels, nobody will notice until it’s too late.
As of now, they don’t inspect the items in the warehouses or even ensure you get a product from the seller you order from.
You see, Amazon is barcode focused, using it together with ASIN numbers to keep track of shipments. It means that If you live closer to a warehouse holding another seller’s “identical” product, that’s the one you will get.
Why “identical”? In some cases, it is the same product provided by a different seller. In others? It’s a counterfeit item with the original product’s barcode.
Considering how the warehouse handles shipments, you have no certainty that you’ll receive the exact product you ordered.
You may be purchasing from a company with high-quality products, but unless they pay extra to have their items stored on their own, it’s a gamble.
Sources: Amazon, Amazon, Amazon
Let’s Talk About Sex Toys – How Bad Is It?
Shopping for sex toys online has been growing fast in the past few years and is expected to skyrocket in popularity.
According to the survey of over 500 consumers completed by RedPoints, many people (68% of participants) still choose shopping for sex toys on marketplaces like Amazon instead of reputable sex shops.
Among the participants of the survey, 20% experienced receiving counterfeit sex toys while originally searching for branded or similar toys.
The counterfeit sexual wellness products are everywhere. From ads on social media, knock-offs on Amazon to counterfeit condoms that are held back at the borders.
Sources: Bloomberg, Red Points, Securing Industry
6 Biggest Problems With Buying Sex Toys On Amazon
There are a number of reasons why I can’t recommend buying sex toys on Amazon. I’m going to break it down for you.
#1 – Amazon Is Flooded with Knock-Off Toys That Pretend To Be Originals
Let’s say you want a high-quality toy, and you are prepared to pay more for it. Can you be sure that’s what you’re getting?
As we know by now, you can’t be certain of whether the product you ordered is the one that is being shipped to you. A warehouse full of counterfeits with the real brand’s barcode could be closer to you.
As well as that, it’s blatantly obvious that counterfeit sex toys show up in the Amazon searches.
Copying well-known brands in old news. Look at Mike (Nike) or Borio (Oreo). But those are just hilarious, obviously fake brands.
But look at these:
You can tell there’s a difference, even if it’s subtle. But which one is the real deal? They both say “Magic Wand.” One even claims to be the original – and it’s not.
The original wand most people know is the Hitachi Magic Wand. It’s been around for decades. It is now sold by Vibratex. Their wand is at the top of the image.
The one on the bottom is sold by IntiMD, which I am not familiar with. Even if the wand they’re selling is a good toy…
What if you were looking for the world-renowned Hitachi? Would you be happy with another company’s product?
Both of those wands come in at over $100. But if we come down to $80…
Do you see a difference between the third wand, by “MAGIC WAND,” and the IntiMD wand? Besides the picture’s lighting, I don’t.
To me, it all seems as if those shops got a hand on the no-name product and they now try to sell it under their name.
#2 – If The Deal Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Usually Is…
Many of these cheap, no-name toys that eventually land on Amazon first appear on websites like Wish, Alibaba, where they are sold for very little money.
Such toys are mostly produced in China – a country that is known for counterfeit goods and products that are often low-quality.
Here is an example of the toy for dogs that are sold on Alibaba and the exact same toy on Amazon with a 5x higher price.
Let’s think for a moment,
If the toy is being sold for $10 on Wish, what is its real cost? Also, what quality can you expect from a toy like that?
Considering how the no-name (or fake-name) toys appear and are sold on Amazon, you cannot be sure of what you are about to receive. It may be a deep, rumbling, pleasure-filled vibrator, or a buzzy toy that will make you numb in a split of a second.
It might be a 100% silicone toy, or one made of cheap toxic rubber.
“But If the seller claims it is silicone, it must be one, right?” Not quite.
Sources: Daxue Consulting, Insight Quality Services,
#3 – Many Sex Toy Sellers Are Making Misleading And Dangerous Claims
We are always trying to find products with good quality and a low price, which is understandable.
A “good quality” in the sex toy industry means, first and foremost, safe materials. It is now widely known that silicone is the safest sex toy material to use around our private areas.
Thanks to the growing popularity of silicone, there are more good quality options available now than ever.
However, the bigger demand for silicone toys is not just recognized by trustworthy manufacturers, but also by those profiting on cheap toys.
While it is fairly possible for Amazon to spot a dishonest seller who pretends to offer branded toys, the material claims cannot be easily checked without a proper inspection of each item. Which, we now know, is not being done…
Consequently, Amazon search results are filled with “silicone” toys that seem to be too great a deal to miss.
But you should know the facts – high-quality and safe material is at least 3 times more expensive than the porous thermoplastic elastomers.
The plain liquid silicone rubber costs $4.5-$6.5 per pound, while you can get TPE for $1.6 per pound (and it isn’t even a wholesale price).
Once we add up the molding, production, distribution, and other costs, it becomes clear that an $8 vibrating “silicone” butt plug is unlikely to be silicone after all.
If you think, you will be able to spot a liar by reading the product reviews, I have bad news for you…
#4 – Many Amazon Reviews Are Fake Or Incentivised
Checking the reviews before purchasing an item is generally a good practice.
Brands cooperate with sex bloggers all the time, offering free toys in exchange for the reviews. Established bloggers respect their audience and agree with brands upfront to provide an honest review.
The less professional brands approach people who have no reputation to lose.
Heck, I could use some extra cash, and giving a 5-star review on a platform, where one can remain fairly anonymous, is not that big of a deal, right?
Believe me, some people do think so…
Buying Amazon reviews is not exclusive to sex toys.
There are resources online teaching you how to procure reviews, and even outright selling good Amazon reviews.
There are also whispers around the internet of Slack and Discord review groups, but this goes unconfirmed.
Not only do some sellers purchase good reviews, but they also go as far as paying for bad reviews of their competitors.
Amazon was removing fake reviews in the past, but it seems to motivate the dishonest sellers to find even more sophisticated ways of getting properly-looking reviews.
They instruct reviewers to search for exact keywords before placing an order. Reviewers then have to purchase an item with their own card and wait for 5-6 days after the item arrives to review it.
All of this is meant to simulate real shopping and make it more complicated for Amazon to spot the paid review.
And let’s be honest here,
It is not just Amazon that is being fooled with such a system, but the real consumers too.
Sources: Zonguru, Financial Times, Buzz Feed News
#5 – High-Quality Toys Are Actually Hidden From Global Search Results
Now you might be convinced to only buy toys from well-known, trustworthy brands… But how easy is it to find them on Amazon?
Answer: Not easy at all.
Here are the regular search results for “dildo.”
You’re faced with a selection of inexpensive sex toys with an unknown origin.
Many of them look as if they were produced in one facility (somewhere in China, perhaps?!), yet they are sold by different sellers.
Now, if you type in “sex toys” in the search bar, Amazon automatically takes you to its sexual wellness section. If you click on the button for vibrators…
… You won’t see any well-known brands either.
Brands like Lelo that sell on Amazon, for some reason do not appear in the search results. Both for general sex toy searches and even for brand-specific queries.
In the video below, you’ll see an Amazon search for Lelo. Their condoms show up. Along with cheaper alternatives, with similar names, and some kids’ toys.
But if you search for Lelo toys … nothing from Lelo.
You’d think Lelo, being so well-known, would be up-front. Let’s have a look at Fleshlight – a famous male masturbator brand.
Their shop does show-up in the Sexual Wellness section… along with the “fleshlights” sold by a Dog store?!
Why are the more expensive, higher-end, well-known toys hidden from the search results?
#6 – High Odds Receiving Used Sex Toy DIRECTLY From Amazon
During my research, I have come across problematic stories that I could not leave unmentioned.
Some users claim to have received suspiciously looking sex toys, even when ordering directly from Amazon.
Unsealed packages, odd smell, dirt, and leaking substances – these signs make consumers question whether someone got a hand on the toys before them.
And while the unsealed sex toy isn’t a proof of the toy being used, it isn’t the best practice either.
Consensus: Shopping On Amazon Is A Gamble
After examining the problems that Amazon has yet to address, it is clear that as of 2023 Amazon is filled with unreliable toys, fake reviews, and dangerous claims.
Even if you will be able to find any good toy there, who knows if that is exactly what is being shipped to you.
The biggest issue with buying sex toys on Amazon’s is uncertainty.
There are ways you can lower your risks if you must shop on Amazon.
Here’s How To Avoid Fake & Low-Quality Toys Like A Pro:
Amazon’s shipping is fast and discrete, so sometimes you really don’t want to buy elsewhere. Let’s look at tips to make sure you get the best.
Don’t Start Your Sex Toy Search On Amazon
Try not to buy random products – know what you want in advance. If you are searching for a dildo or a masturbator, don’t just type in “dildo” on Amazon.
Research the best products first, make up your mind about the particular toy, and only then check whether Amazon sells it.
Find Real Reviews Of People Who ACTUALLY Had Hands-On Experience with The Toy
Look for reviews of the product. Not Amazon reviews, but other reviews. If a trusted website outside of Amazon reviewed that particular product, it’s probably real and reasonable.
Reviews usually link out to the trusted shops with that exact toy you just read about. Now, you don’t have to shop through these links (sometimes they are affiliated, helping support the blog without ads).
Your goal is to learn as much as you can about the haunted toy so that you can spot any inconsistencies in Amazon offers.
Also, look for the photos of that product and compare it with what you see on Amazon.
Investigate The Details Of The Offer & Watch Out With Skeptical Eye
Once you have a specific toy in mind, you probably know its’ brand name. Look at the seller’s name. Does it correspond with the manufacturer’s brand? If not, chances are – it’s not the right toy.
Look for an “other sellers on Amazon” section somewhere on the left. If other sellers are providing the same branded product, that’s suspicious.
Also, look out for the “see all buying options” button. Sometimes you can find objects in there from other sellers, or used items.
For sex toys, that’s a red flag. Used is dangerous, and multiple sellers with one item are untrustworthy.
Do Seller Research & Investigate If The Brand Is TrustWorthy
Maybe you’re not looking for a particular brand. How do you know you can trust the Amazon seller’s brand, then?
Do a quick Google search. Does the seller have a company website, that matches the company name exactly? If it does, look on the website.
If there are multiple typos, be wary. One is understandable. But multiple means the seller didn’t care enough to have an editor or proofreader check the website. How can you trust they care about the toys they sell?
Also, look for gibberish/filler text. That’s a sure sign of a low-quality or fake website.
Finally, reverse-image search the product pictures. If they appear only on Amazon, great! That’s a legit manufacturer.
Are they on Alibaba, or Wish, or one of those websites? Consider looking elsewhere. It might be a really good faker.
Prepare A Reasonable Budget If You Want A Quality Toy
There is no way around this – you get what you pay for. Don’t expect my tips to save you from a bad purchase if you only have $10-15 to spend on a toy.
Bad quality and counterfeit toys are usually cheap, but I hope I have convinced you to stay away from those… So if you need to shop on Amazon, try to skip the cheapest ones.
Again try to find out how much reasonable toys in that particular category cost and go from there.
Consider Buying Something Else On Amazon Besides Toys
As you see, I don’t suggest you ever shop for toys on Amazon – the stakes are just too high. Thankfully, there are other ways Amazon can help you get aroused.
Instead of sex toys, why not buy sexy costumes or handcuffs? These are safe and playful options you can buy on Amazon without worrying.
You could even look into sexy books to read together or browse some flavored lube… once you know the safe ingredients in the lube, of course.
These helpful tricks will lower the chances of you encountering a low-quality or counterfeit toy. But it’s still safest to buy reliable sex shops and manufacturers.
The Best Online Sex Shops To Buy Toys Safely
Although Amazon has everything, it’s not the best place to buy everything. Here are some shops that I recommend you get the toys from:
- Lovehoney (They have UK and EU versions too!)
- Mr. Hankey’s Toys
- Uberkinky, Bondara
- GoodVibes, Babeland
- Original Fleshlight website
- Any original toy website (Lelo, Kiiroo, FunFactory, Liberator, We-Vibe, Womanizer Tenga, etc.)
Where to Buy Cheap Sex Toys That Are Actually A Good Deal
Some toys on the websites above can get pretty pricey – but here are few options to check out if you are on the budget.
Here is our article on cheap male sex toys.
And some shops have sections dedicated to discounts – Lovehoney’s cheap sex toy page is fantastic, and updates frequently.
Uberkinky and Shevibe have discount pages too… in fact, many online sex shops do, so shop around. There’s probably something cheap and safe you can fall in love with.
The Bottom Line
Buying sex toys on Amazon is like getting a haircut from a beauty school student.
You could get something incredible, or something that wastes your time, money, and potentially damages your well-being.
My advice is to stick to reputable sex-based websites, bloggers, and reviewers. You may end up paying more, but the pleasure will be worth the price.