Monday, April 15, 2013

Don't be Duped into Buying a Fake Jiu-Jitsu Gi

There is always somewhere out there looking to make a buck and cash in on unsuspecting buyers in the web marketplace.  Most notably eBay seems to be chock full of scam artists and you need to be careful when shopping online.  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a growing sport and due to that a lot of people are finding ways to make money.  Sometimes unauthentic versions of popular gi's are produced and sold for a considerable profit on e-commerce sites such as eBay.  There are some things you need to watch out for to avoid being duped into buying a fake.

We will examine one of the most often copied gi's to date...Lucky Gi.  Lucky Gi is a relatively small outfit that aren't regularly available for purchase.  Scott from OTM and has been producing Lucky Gi's for some time now.  They are not cheap by any stretch running around $250 or more depending on the particular model.  I have seen these gi's in person and they are very high quality.  The newer models featuring Bamboo fabric are REALLY nice and one I hope to add to my collection soon.

Getting back on track...eBay just seems to be littered with cheap Chinese copies of the older model gi that was made popular back in 2007-2008.  Believe it or not there are copies of this gi still floating around.   Many ads will claim that they were "extras, a blemished item / factory seconds," or something as simple as "Brand New Lucky Gi."  I recently came across an ad that seemed too good to be true.  It claimed it was a Real Lucky Gi with tags.  Most of the ads for these fakes don't go as far as to say that because such a claim is quite easy to argue against.  Real Lucky Gi's for these models were produced in Pakistan.

Here is the ad in question.

Something the seller did that was a bit clever was crop out "MADE IN CHINA" on the Lucky Gi tag inside the jacket (bottom left picture).  That wasn't a coincidence.  Something else worth noting is that the weight of the jacket wasn't even correct.  It was a pearl weave jacket as opposed to a gold weave which was specific to the older, authentic Lucky Gi's.  The pants lacked any real padding in the knees which is another tell tale sign of a fake.  Note that the newer Lucky Gi's feature a 520 Light weight Platinum weave jacket.

So what are some things to check for to avoid a fake?
  1. Is the gi new?  If so ask for receipts to verify it.  
  2. Do they offer a Buy It Now option?  If the gi is new and the Buy It Now option is cheaper than what it would cost to buy it brand new you have to wonder if it's too good to be true. 
  3. If the gi is new and missing tags it might be a fake.  
  4. If it claims to be Factory Seconds it might be a fake.
  5. Use common sense and don't make any rushed decisions.
  6. If you do decide to bid on an eBay item I HIGHLY recommend using a credit card as method for payment as opposed to a checking account.  You have a much better chance at disputing the sale of something and recovering your money should something come up.  
  7. This may seem super obvious but make sure to check the sellers feedback.  You'd be surprised how often some of the eBay sellers have sold the same fake gi and even used the same pictures in each ad.  That's pretty blatant if they have sold various sizes of the same gi on numerous occasions.  
  8. If you see something questionable ask the seller questions.  If they don't provide sufficient answers pass on it.  You can also post on message forums such as (grappling forum, and equipment forums) to get opinions from other people. 
  9. Fakes notoriously will be missing something that the authentic version had.  For example, I have read that some of the fake 7th Son Shoyoroll gi's were missing the typical SYR taping on the inside and Rasta tape on the bottom seam.  Familiarize yourself with the small details of the gi you are interested in and compare it against the one for sale.  If they can't prove it's the real deal simply pass on it.  
  10. Buy from reputable sellers.  This includes both personal sellers and online merchants.  

If you purchased a gi on eBay that is a fake you are in luck.  Fortunately eBay is set up to give the buyers a good amount of recourse and leverage when dealing with bad situations like this.

  1. First I would recommend contacting the seller and discuss with them your dissatisfaction with the product in a calm, non-threatening manner. 
  2. Ask that the item be refunded and keep a paper trail of everything through the eBay messaging system.  
  3. DO use signature/delivery confirmation to cover yourself in the event they claim you never sent the item back.  
  4. If the seller is non-compliant then you're going to have to report them to eBay and file a complaint with your credit card company/PayPal.  

Some people may not care if the gi they purchase is authentic or not.  I for one do care and absolutely hate scammers.  Use good judgement when dealing with individuals on the Internet.  Sometimes trying to cut corners and save some money may cost you more in the long run.

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