Counterfeit sales and profiteering were a problem long before digital marketplaces emerged. However, online sales of fake merchandise is a growing problem as digital marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon have made it much easier for profiteers and sellers of counterfeit goods to establish an online presence with a far and wide-reaching customer base. Sadly, the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower has found itself tackling this problem head-on, with our products being resold for profit and the emergence of counterfeit designs claiming to be the real thing.
Watchdog on the BBC One Show
Watchdog looked into the sale of hidden disabilities sunflower lanyards on platforms including Amazon and eBay. Find out what the companies told us about it here.
What are we doing about it?
The illegal and unethical selling and reselling of the Sunflower products is an issue we have been aware of for some time and something that we naturally want to end.
Sunflower lanyards and ID cards are being illegally distributed in the following ways:-
- Individuals reselling items they have either been purchased from our site or obtained for free from supporting businesses
- Counterfeit items
Apart from the infringement of our trademark and copyright over the Sunflower design, our terms and conditions state that Sunflower products are strictly not for resale, with the exception of charities that have authorised reseller status and will display a reseller badge.
Unauthorised and counterfeit resellers damage our organisation and depreciate the impact of the Sunflower in the following ways:-
- Invariably these are sold at vastly inflated prices, financially exploiting our Sunflower wearers
- the Sunflower relies on consistency, ensuring the Sunflower design is identifiable so that trained businesses can instantly recognise the Sunflower and there is no confusion or delay. These alternatives dilute the good work we are doing and will cause hesitation which will impact the support given to the Sunflower wearers.
- The unauthorised reselling diverts the income we rely on to continue the important work we are doing; raising awareness and support for people with hidden disabilities and impacts our deliberate decision to keep the cost low, so Sunflower products are affordable for all who may need them. This is one of the reasons we ask businesses to give the Sunflower products away for free, ensuring anyone who feels they would benefit from wearing a sunflower, can do so without any financial burden.
Our legal representatives, Howes Percival LLP, have issued legal letters to both Amazon and eBay instructing them of the infringement of our trademarks and asking for their support in removing these items from the sale. They have also commenced legal proceedings against a number of UK sellers of counterfeit goods.
An example of a counterfeit lanyard is below:
What can you do to help?
We ask that if you would like to obtain a Sunflower product, either as a person with a hidden disability or as a carer, then you either visit one of our supporting stores to obtain one for free or you purchase one directly from our site for £0.66: https://hiddendisabilitiesstore.com/lanyard.html
Thank you for your continued support of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and for raising awareness of the challenges faced by people with hidden disabilities.
BBC One Show Watchdog - Sunflower Lanyards article:
The following is a copy of the article published on the BBC One Show website:
"Watchdog reported on how sunflower lanyards and badges, which show the wearer has a hidden disability and are given away free in some major supermarkets, are being sold on Amazon and eBay. The lanyards can also be used to show the wearer is exempt from wearing a face covering in settings like shops, where they must be worn.
We heard from people with disabilities who are unhappy about the sale of unofficial sunflower lanyards online. They say it devalues the widely recognised Hidden Disabilities scheme and could lead to abuse by people who may not have a genuine reason for not wearing a face covering.
Amazon and eBay did not respond to the concerns raised in our film about whether the sale of sunflower lanyards on its site could contribute to the Hidden Disabilities scheme being misused. Neither company has committed to a policy of removing all sunflower lanyards from sale.
We told Amazon about a number of listings for sunflower lanyards we spotted on its site. All were sold by third-party sellers, but fulfilled by Amazon via its own distribution centres.
Afterwards, we noticed some of these listings were no longer available, though other similar designs remained for sale on the site.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “Amazon takes these matters seriously and we are investigating.”
We let eBay know about a number of listings for sunflower lanyards we found on its site. eBay was acting as a marketplace for third-party sellers. It has not removed any of the listings we highlighted.
In a statement, eBay told us:
“We only allow these listings on eBay if the proceeds are going to charity, as part of our eBay for Charity programme.”
However, we found numerous listings for sunflower lanyards, including the ones we told eBay about, where the seller does not mention any charitable donation.
The statement added:
“Any listings reported to us and found to be against our counterfeits policy will be removed. We’d welcome further collaboration with Hidden Disabilities to ensure we can continue to uphold standards.”