Fake Merchandise, TOMs shoes, Dealticker, Ethical Deals, Groupon

Here is an unfortunate situation where a famous brand was promoted on daily deal sites just to have consumers find out they were fake. Situations like these certainly continue to put a black eye on this industry and those driving and leading the industry should do something about it.

Here are the details of the latest Fake Brand issue:

Famous TOMs shoes were promoted on daily deal sites but then consumers found out that they were knock offs. The story ran on Lynda Steele from CTV news. The story explains how Ethical Deal and Dealticker both ran a promotion  for TOMs shoes from an online merchant called e-accessories.ca. Once consumers were shipped the goods, they quickly found out that the items were knock offs. Ethical Deal pulled the promo, Dealticker continued with the promotion and both are figuring out how best to refund customers. I truly hope both Deal Sites refund all customers in full including shipping costs. This is not the error of the consumer. This is the fault of both the Deal sites and of course the online merchant. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. Expectations: The problem is not that knocks off were sold. It’s that consumers were not told that they were fake. Groupon offered the same promotion in the US but actually stated that they were knock offs. Consumers knew ahead of time that they were fake and they bought anyway. Their expectations were met. Thus no surprises or issues. Dealticker and Ethical Deal should have mentioned that they were Knock-off IF they actually knew about it. We are all giving Dealticker and Ethical Deal the benefit of the doubt and assume that they did not know that the shoes from e-accessories were knock offs. Again, nothing wrong with selling knock offs, as long as consumers know what they are buying.

Fault: e-accessories.ca

2. Fake online Merchant: Assuming that Dealticker and Ethical Deal did not know that the merchandise was fake, then at the very, very least they should revise their supplier/merchant process because everything about e-accessories.ca screams shady. They should have NEVER done a deal with e-accessories. Their web site was just thrown up. It is a basic online site. It has NO secure checkout even though they state there is, there is no address or contact info other than an email…etc, etc…   This is NOT an true online e-commerce merchant in Canada. This is a thrown up ecommerce site specifically to satisfy the Daily Deal process. The site was probably put up by the importer/wholesaler. Some other deal sites in this industry would NEVER run a promo from such a site/company because it just looks bad and ruins their own reputation.

Fault = Dealticker and Ethical Deal

3. Refund: Dealticker and Ethical should eat all refunds to consumers on this one and deal with e-accessorires.ca themselves. This is not the consumer’s fault and they should not have to spend a dime in having their purchase cancelled. If either Dealticker or Ethical Deal do not appease consumers on this one, I believe it will have far greater ramifications for them down the road. In this industry, ESPECIALLY in this industry, customer service is Queen. King is still the quality of the promotion.

4. Ramifications: Deal sites are not the only ones losing on this. Plenty of deal aggregators who have affiliate relationships with Deal sites like Dealticker will not be getting their affiliate commissions, but worse, their credibility took a hot by recommending this promotion.


This industry has enough obstacles to deal with. Bad press, Groupon’s constant bad decisions, Groupon’s stock price, merchant complaining, consumers not trusting Deal sites, more bad press, etc… The last thing this industry needs are bad quality promotions, bad quality importers and shady deals. Collectively, the Daily Deal sites that lead this country , especially the larger and brand name ones of Dealfind, Wagjag, Tuango, Teambuy, DealoftheDay, Buytopia, Kijiji, Travelzoo, Astral, Rogers and others should put a FIRM and collective stop to all the shady and low quality distributors, importers and wholesalers who really do not care about this industry. They simply care about moving product at all costs. Well, if this continues, the costs to this industry will be too high and consumers will go elsewhere.

Quality, is the only thing that will maintain consumer interest in the long term. We will do our part to help build quality standards.

  1. hottorontodeals@gmail.com'

    Fully Agree!

    I think sites like Groupon and Teambuy who act responsibly, to the extent of even promising authenticity of merchandise, continue to differentiate them as the top tier daily deal sites; gaining the trust of everyone.

    While we’re affiliates with most of these sites, including Buytopia (Butcher’s Deal) and DealTicker (TOMS), we have become leery of promoting deals for branded products like Beats headphones, iSensor Soap Dispensers & branded sunglasses. Why promote something for a few cents, if you lose trust of your customers for life, bad word of mouth, revoked commissions, etc.

    The answer, maybe be as simple as to “inspect, what you expect”. First, get the merchant to promise 100% signed in writing that what they are selling is authentic and they have the authorization to sell it or at least its via the grey market from an authorized seller. If fake, law enforcement and the brand will be notified. Deal only with USA & Canada merchants. If its a new merchant, limit the sales to 100 or 200. And grow the relationship from there, once the product has shipped.

    Second, the deal sites should “salt” their deal buyer lists with a few trusted employees & friends. Get their feedback.

    Its a simple business, all common sense.


    • al@canadiandealsassociation.com'

      Thank you for your comments Ash. As in any business, especially online, sites that deceive customers or that do not provide quality relationships with merchants or products they sell will eventually lose out on a tremendous amount of existing and future customers. Quality should always prevail against a fast buck.

  2. bill@fabfind.com'

    Dealticker, the site that sold Ray-Ban wayfarers for $39. These guys knoow exactly what they are doing — and it’s illegal. It is important to distinguish between “knockoff” and “counterfeit” goods. If someone attempts to sell products with falsified branding, that is considered counterfeit and it is patently illegal. If someone merely copies the look of merchandise and doesn’t attempt to brand it as an original, then it’s a knockoff. There’s a legal line that is clear, and many of these sites are knowingly crossing it.

    • al@canadiandealsassociation.com'

      Thank you Bill. Appreciate the comment…Whomever is knowingly crossing it will eventually be, well, I guess like all other online businesses with shady natures, authorities will poke their noses and consumers will poke somewhere else…

  3. Good on you Group Buying Canada for helping to encourage and build strong Daily Deal sites. And to keep them honest and fair…
    Thats what will keep the industry going!

  4. annalea@ethicaldeal.com'

    ethicalDeal removed the promotion within hours of it going live after receiving concerned comments from our shoppers about the authenticity of the shoes. We immediately refunded all 540 customers that had purchased the deal and have implemented policies to ensure there are more thorough background checks for products that we promote.