Crappy Arguments Against Buying Fakes are Counter-Productive. Upgrade!

  1. First, I will fully disclose that I am not nearly as passionate about this issue as many people here. I live in the US, where it is against the law to sell fraudulently labelled merchandise of any kind, including handbags, but I cannot claim to share a strong belief on the issue of intellectual property.

    I do not buy designer bags, I do not buy fraudulently labeled bags. I already own close to a half century's worth of bags, and keep probably under 10% of them in Current Rotation.

    All of that is precisely why I am the ideal person to suggest sound and effective arguments against buying fakes to those who do have strong feelings, attitudes, opinions and beliefs on the subject of fraudulently labeled bags.

    Every day, I see people on this forum express very sincere but frankly crappy, and even potentially counter-productive arguments against fraudulently labeled, or "fake" bags. I have some suggestions for some better arguments.

    If you're going to do it, do it right.

    Many years ago (you knew there would be a sentence that started with "Many years ago." I'll do it now to end the suspense) there was a huge TV, radio, and print campaign intended to persuade young people not to engage in recreational marijuana use.

    It provided millions of people with a great deal of amusement. Marijuana, young people were warned, would do all kinds of terrible things. It would cause hallucinations ("Well sign me up then!" responded young people who had not yet smoked any marijuana.)

    This is a classic example of a counter-productive argument, one that has the opposite effect than was intended.

    All kinds of other horror stories were shrieked aboug marijuana, and these stories were not true.

    The campaigns were of course a colossal failure in terms of decreasing marijuana use by young people, and they also guaranteed that no one would pay any attention to anything that was said about other drugs, including drugs that can be very harmful.

    I see some of the same elements going on with arguments against fake bags. For instance this one:

    Fake bags are poorly made and will fall apart.

    This is a crappy argument because it is not true, to begin with. Sure, some fake bags are poorly made and will fall apart, but the statement above doesn't say some. It's making an unqualified and absolute statement about an article that is produced daily in the millions, maybe billions.

    This is a HUGE industry. Fake bags do not come from just one source. There is not one company, FakeBagzzRUs, that makes them all! So absolutely everything about them, every aspect of their production, is going to run the gamut. Some of them, as noted, are indeed poorly made out of ****ty material. Others are not.

    It is not only possible to pay hundreds of dollars for a fake bag that falls apart in a week, and pay ten dollars for one that lasts for years and still looks new, it is something that millions of people do every day. So to make such a broad statement: "Fake bags are poor quality and fall apart" is not an effective way to persuade someone who buys fake bags to stop doing it. The person who buys fake bags on a regular basis just might know a little bit more than you do about the insanely wide - and completely unrelated to price - range of product quality in the fake bag industry.

    A better argument might be:

    If your fake bag turns out to be poorly made and falls apart in a week, you might not be able to return it.

    This argument is better because first of all, we are not saying ALL fake bags. There are people who sell fake bags who will indeed give you a new bag or even a refund, if your fake bag falls apart in a week. But in most cases, you can't return it, and in some cases, even if the dude on the sidewalk SAYS you can return it, that's not going to be easy to do if he's not on that sidewalk when you come to return your fallen apart fake bag!

    So when we put that "might" in there, we automatically make ourselves sound more credible. Instead of ignoring the reality of the fake bag industry, we are using it to our advantage by emphasizing the risk of losing money. There is no guarantee about the bag's quality because there is no accountability. And there is no guarantee that you will be able to return it, even if it costs hundreds of dollars and falls apart in a day! And then you will have lost all that money. If you buy a fake bag, you risk ending up bagless and broke!

    Fake bags are made in sweatshops/using child labor/under terrible conditions/in a country that you think may be unpopular with your audience or one that you just don't like

    This is a crappy argument for two reasons. The first one we have already discussed. The fake bag industry is huge and the only statement that you can make that is 100% true of ALL fake bags is that they are fraudulently labeled.

    The second reason this is a crappy argument is a little more sensitive because it can get into the area of beliefs. Some people have very strong beliefs about the conditions under which "real" bags are manufactured, especially the bags made by their favorite company, that bear the label they prefer.

    And that country you don't like might be the favorite of the person who is thinking of buying a fake bag. You aren't here to argue about countries, you want to convince that person not to buy a fake handbag!

    Because authentic bags are also a big industry, and even with things like accountability and standard policies and being real companies, the only statement that you can make that is 100% true of ALL real bags is that they really are made by the company the label says they are.

    I'm not going to get into the whole mega-topic of the reality of how the world does business today. Suffice it to say that looking into the provenance of almost anything you use, from toothbrush to toilet tissue, from hairbrush to handbag, is not for everyone. However, that reality makes the whole labor conditions, etc argument against fake bags vulnerable to the counter-argument that the same labor conditions prevail here, there and everywhere. Which may be a valid point, but if your goal is to dissuade someone from buying a fake handbag, the last thing you need is to be caught up in a discussion of world-wide trade practices.

    So don't even go there. And while we are on the subject of sensitive subjects, we might as well address another popular statement that is not really an argument but a combination of belief and subjective opinion.

    Money paid for fake bags goes to people who disagree with me and/or policies of a country to which I have an attachment and with which I agree

    It may not be phrased like that, but that is really the essence of it. Not everybody who buys fake bags agrees with you or your favorite country either! And they may not be too crazy about where the money paid for real bags goes, so don't let anybody lure you into that glass house.

    Your goal is to persuade them to change their shopping habits, not argue about politics! Take a tip from the Purse Forum rules and just leave all that out of it.

  2. Fake bags are the same thing as stealing!

    This argument is crappy because it too is belief-based. It assumes that your target - the person you hope to persuade not to buy fake bags, shares your belief that intellectual property is something that can be stolen.

    And just like the other statements of belief we examined earlier, nobody can really argue with it, it's your belief, and even if someone does try to argue with you about it, it is not going to convince them not to buy fake bags, because they simply do not consider it to be stealing.

    So pretend you are Stacy and Clinton and "Fake bags are the same thing as stealing!" is a holiday sweater and dump it in the big silver Belief Bin and move on.

    People who carry fake bags are pretending to be something they're not

    This is one of those beliefs that makes even less sense to people who do not share it than the intellectual property thing.

    This statement assumes that your target - that person buying that fake bag, perceives the concept of "someone with an authentic bag" or even "someone who spent $2000 for a bag," is a "thing to be." Like artist or astronaut or accountant.

    So if the list of "things to be" that resides in their heart of hearts does not include anything even remotely like "owner of an authentic designer bag" or the other ones noted in the paragraph above, then the whole "pretending to be something you're not" argument can even sound like crazy talk! Hardly the kind of thing that is going to persuade them to not buy a fake bag!

    It's against the law

    Here we have plain old vagueness. What exactly is against the law? What law? Where?

    This argument is almost always used in reference to certain laws in the United States pertaining to unauthorized use and reproduction of things like trademarks (logos) and the company name of course, and applies only to those who actually produce and sell the fraudulently labeled merchandise, not the people who buy the stuff. Trademark laws are not the same the world over.

    And frequently these specifics do come out in the course of a discussion of the subject, whether and to what extent and where the DMCA or whatever it is called would be applicable, along, of course with the fact that the law is not targeting buyers.

    But you are. And not just buyers who live in the US.

    I guess we could run "It's against the law" several times through the pasta machine in order to extrude a cane (It's a polymer clay analogy, and it comes from reading only, I've never even touched polymer clay! Impressive, huh?) that goes something like "In the US, use, duplication and sale of products unauthorizedly bearing logos and/or company names is against the law."

    And of course, such a miniature masterpiece of the rhetorical arts would be greeted by a resounding chorus of "And that affects me how?" It is extremely unlikely that even one fake purse fan is going to go "No! Really? You mean that dude on the sidewalk in that major US city where I bought my last 3 fake purses was breaking the LAW? Well no more fakes for me! I do not wish to buy anything from people who are breaking the law."

    Fake bags lessen the value of real bags/make me not want to carry mine

    This may be the crappiest argument of all, especially that second part. The person who is thinking of buying a fake bag could really care less how you feel about your real bag.

    And if fake bags lessen the value of real ones, then somebody better tell the companies who make the real ones, so they can lower their prices accordingly. Instead of raising them, which it would appear they are doing.

    This is the dirty little secret of the fake bag industry, and one that fans of real bags do not like to think about, but if they were not willing to pay $2000 for the real bag, then there would not be so many people who were willing to pay $200 for a fake one.

    The fake bag industry is driven, depends on, the real bag industry. And the real bag industry, in some ways, depends on the fake bag industry. Wearers of fake bags get those logos in peoples faces just like the real ones do, and many of the faces they get them in can't tell the difference between a real one and a fake one, and even more of those faces don't care!

    It is a symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship. Ironically, the only party with the power to "stop" the selling of fake bags are the consumers who buy the real bags. At the prices the companies set, which are very high and getting higher.

    In cataloging just a few of what I perceive to be the most popular arguments against fake bags, I notice that many, if not most, are belief based.

    Any argument that is belief-based cannot be refuted. It's not really an argument, to begin with. It's a statement of belief. And it is impossible to argue with a belief. I mean, of course you could try to persuade somebody that their belief is "wrong," try to talk them out of it. And there are plenty of people who will spend all day, if you like, doing that very thing!

    But your goal is not to invite or encourage people to challenge your beliefs whereupon you defend them, they argue with your defense and so on.

    Your goal is to persuade people to change their shopping behavior. And endless discussions of your beliefs or theirs are unlikely to do that. Like the labor conditions issue, all it does is distract everybody, and completely change the subject.

    So what are you left with? We go back to the beginning - those arguments about the quality gamble, and the risk of losing money.

    And we are also left with the reality that people who buy "fake" bags, just like many people who buy "real" bags, are buying a label. That is their primary concern, before anything else. So to persuade people not to buy a fake bag will be about as difficult, if not more, than to try to persuade a loyal fan of a particular designer not to buy that company's latest release because it is as ugly as who shot Sally.

    It's true that many people come here to learn more about bags, and there is a chance that you might persuade someone not to buy a fake one. But there is not a realistic chance that you are going to persuade most of them. The odds are stacked against you. Just as they would be stacked against me, if I were to try to persuade you to stop paying $2000 for your real bag.

    So give yourself the best chance you can, and stick with arguments that touch on the buyer's wallet. If you buy a real bag with one label, someone who likes another label better may say that their favorite is better quality. Whether they are right or wrong, when you buy YOUR favorite, you know what the quality will be. And if it falls apart, you have some recourse. If you buy a fake one, you don't know. It might be good, it might be bad. And if it turns out to be bad, you might not be able to return it. You will have lost money.

    This is the best argument against buying fake bags because regardless of attitudes, opinions, or beliefs, no one wants to lose money. That is universal. That is guaranteed to "resonate" with your target audience, no matter where they come from, no matter what their demographic.

    It is also irrefutable, and not in the way a belief is irrefutable, but irrefutable in a fact and reality-based way. Fake bags are a huge industry, and there is simply no guarantee that the fake bag you buy today will not fall apart tomorrow. And if it does, you might not be able to get your money back.

    On the other hand, it might be well-made, out of good materials, and it might last you as long as a real bag would. But there is no guarantee, no parent company to write to, no standard return policy. The dude might not be on the sidewalk.

    It is a gamble. It is as much of a gamble as buying a lottery ticket or playing the slot machine. Lots of people like to do that. But few people want to buy 200 lottery tickets or get $400 worth of quarters for the slot machine!

    I am sure that I could go on, and I hope you will. Maybe you can come up with some more belief-free, wallet-based arguments against buying fake bags!
  3. Let me add that my remarks are intended only for those who seek to dissuade people from buying fake bags.

    I do not mean to suggest that people should not express their beliefs, or that they do not buy fake bags because of those beliefs.

    I do mean to suggest that the risk of losing money is the best belief-free argument against buying fake bags that I have been able to come up with.

    I hope that you will be able to come up with more and better ones!
  4. I have to say, the fake handbag business is really improving by leaps and bounds. One of my friends have a fake Jimmy Choo Ramona. I thought it was authentic, and felt the quality of it and it looked like the real thing (granted I'm no Jimmy Choo expert, but I am a handbag aficionado).

    I agree with you on the point that not ALL fake bags are horrible quality. There are the fakes like those cheap Chanel Cambon totes that you see for $50 or less on the streets that are horrible in quality, but there are fakes that I've seen in ALL brands that are dead ringers for the real thing.

    My opinion on fakes is undecided. I don't support the business by any means, but I'm not about to go calling out people that have obvious fakes either. I do understand that not everyone can afford the real thing, and that's their own decision whether they want to buy fakes or not. I personally wouldn't, but to each his/her own.
  5. Honestly, I understand your intentions shimma, and this is how I would put the words when talking to friends or posting on a board like this, but if you want to pursuade most people you have to put the message clear and loud. Just look at the commercials and politicians. You can't say "there's a possibility that your bag was made by children working 12 hour shift in a distant country far far away and that possibility is higher than for my bag". I know it's relative, it will always be becuase we as consumers cannot now in detail how or products are made. Even manufacturers that have a specific was of creating/producing goods like Hermes and Louis Vuitton get their materials from somewhere. Who knows where the monogram canvas is made or who makes the skins for Hermes 100% of the time. It's just not possible.

    I don't really agree with you that all of these arguments are counter-productive: Everyone at once and put forward thoughtlessly, yes. But, as the labels on sigarette cases have worked and so has the anti smoking propaganda, I believe this has an effect also (Especailly the outlawing). THis aslo goes along with the current "caring consumer"-trend. People want o have a real relationship with their goods, knowing its origins, stories and how it is made.

    THe most important factor is to let people know it's not "cool". THe other arguments are only there to help as ong as they hold some truth. Drugs (marijuana in your example) were "cool" and interesting and no government propaganda could counter that.

    I'll use an example from my school that shows what I mean maybe itll make it easier to understand. WHen I started high school everyone suddenly started smoking, because it was what was "in" at the moment and a lot of the older kids did it. Many also tried marijuana as it was experimental and "kinda cool". We had wrning lessons on drugs and projects on how it worked and effects almost EVERY year two year before high school and in high school, but of course it didn't help. It really changed firstly when smoking turned uncool, mainly because many of the "trend setting" ones who had been smoking and taking drugs were expelled or transferred appearing to be drop outs and loosers. THat's why it's so important that this issue is covered on TV and that there are shows like tyra's talking about fake bags vs real ones. It shows it's not cool at all and that you can get a good looking bag at any price.
  6. That's true, and the reality of working conditions for all kinds of products is evidence that there is a good chance that the person you are trying to persuade not to buy a FAKE bag does not care, just as there are people who buy Hermes products who do not care who made the skins. Whether you or I like it or not, or agree or not, it is acceptable to enough people so that it is the way the world does business.

    The most effective argument against smoking cigarettes is the one that is on the label, and the one that has worked - health. It's universal. Nobody wants to get sick and die, nobody wants to lose money.

    It's not cool to SOME people, it is to others. Drugs also were completely uncool to some people, even in the sixties. And the same is true today. Coolness is not a universal, in fact it is more vulnerable to being counter-productive than just about anything. If I think you are un-cool, then whatever you tell me is cool, I will deem un-cool. And if I strongly feel that a behavior, like using drugs, is cool, then a celebrity who tells me to Just Say No will be a celebrity I have immediately deemed as uncool.

    Well, I think you have made a good point there, it turned uncool when the people who did it were expelled or transferred. Once they were not there, there was a larger percentage of people who thought smoking was uncool. But you did not change the minds of those people who were expelled or transferred, those people who had made it cool, you just removed them!

    Now we can't do that with people who buy fake bags, we can't just expel them from the marketplace :smile:

    And just as there is no guarantee that a fake bag won't fall apart, there is no guarantee that the person who buys fake bags thinks that you are cool or wants to be like you, just as there is no guarantee that they share your beliefs about anything.

    This is why something with a universal appeal - like not getting sick and dying, in the case of cigarette smoking, or losing money, in the case of fake bags, will have a better chance of actually persuading someone to change their behavior!
  7. ^
    I totally agree with your post, but I do think it's a blend of everything. If you think carrying a fake is ok and even cool, you might change it if suddenly three of your best friends thinks it's bad or are indifferent and your favorite celebrity speaks out against it. I totally agree that if a celebrity suddenly speaks out against fakes and the general opinion is different it hurts the celebrity more than the fake industry.

    Of course, different arguments for different people. THere are those who had parents living untill they were 100 smoking five sigarettes a day and they may be less likely to care about the health hazards and these may be more prone to group pressure. Then there are others who make up their own minds and only go by info they collect themselves. People are different and they need different arguments to be convinced.

    a bit on the side; As for the whole "coolness" issue, I think it's a fascinating study at times. I had a great grand mother that was smoking only for parties back in the 20s. At that time it was trendy for a young female to take a sigarette and sigarettes were still considered classy products. Of course no one knew of the health dangers, and as long as it was consumed in the same way as alcohol i don't know if it was very harmful either. However these days alcohol is far more accepted than smoking. At least here people smoking are often considered to have little strength of will (as they cannot quit) and stupid (for wasting money, health etc).
    In addition to what you mentioned, I feel like there's a general air of incontrolness. IT's not that we don't care, it's rather the fact that we need(or just want) a new sweater and it's found in a store. How it got there, you can't really ever know, and especially after the Nike scandal and similar during the late 90s, noone seems to care because even big brands aren't "trustable", and then there are very few options left. I believe many people do have values, but feel powerless. Still interestingly enough, a lot of people think that furs are outcomes of a horrible way ofproducing no matter what, being overly fanatic about that issue, not caring much for anything else.
  8. This is true. And this is why the arguments that will have a better chance of being effective are the ones that can cut through all that different-ness and get down to the things we all have in common - like not wanting to get sick and die, or not wanting to lose money.

    And I completely agree that there is a sense of not being in control, in terms of where the products we use come from and how they are made. If you take something as simple as a toothbrush, and try to trace it back to the raw materials, for one thing, it becomes almost impossible. You get lost, it is just too big, too many dots on the map, too many twists and turns, and you end up feeling even less in control than when you started.

    But just like with designer purses, ironically consumers do have power, but only as a huge bloc. Just because I, and maybe several of my friends and relatives get together and decide we are going to boycott Acme toothbrushes because the bristles are made under terrible working conditions, even if we go and hand out flyers and do ads on the local college radio station, and are successful in persuading thousands of people in Anytown not to buy Acme toothbrushes, that really is not going to impact, much less change anything.
    If we manage to get our message out a little bit in BigCity, then at some point Acme may issue a statement, and they will also do a big promotion in BigCity, probably an unadvertised promotion, something like having their salespeople GIVE a bunch of toothbrushes to all the drugstores in BigCity, the drugstores put out their weekly flyer with ALL ACME TOOTHBRUSHES 25 CENTS - THIS WEEK ONLY.

    Companies today are so big, you can go to (whose data is from 2004) but you can get an idea of just how inter-related and convoluted the relationships are, almost everything is owned by another company, which is a subsidiary of a holding company, which is a owned by - and on and on.

    And companies do business all over the world. Cigarettes are a good example. The tobacco companies can easily afford the decrease in US sales, because they can just increase sales in parts of the world where there are more people anyway.

    And the whole thing of companies is a very sensitive topic anyway, because in the US, companies have a very special status. They should, they shell out millons of dollars in public relations and ad campaigns to make sure they do.

    So in a sense, we are right to feel powerless. But at the same time, we are the ones who actually HAVE the power, but, maybe because of all those differences we have, we don't exercise it!
  9. Shimma, a bit off topic, but do you have your collection posted on TPF? I looked through you thread but couldn't find it :smile:
  10. You won't get any arguments from me on this one. I have seen varying levels of fakes. Some look better constructed than others. It's also worth noting that there are plenty of threads to be found on these forums wherein the posters are crying because their authentic bags are falling apart! Even the real ones are sometimes made poorly. All the designer brands have some quality control problems. I even have experience with this. I ordered a Marc Jacobs bag. I was so excited, because it was my first Marc Jacobs and everyone was always raving about how wonderful they are. I got it and the strap was coming apart! I had to send it back to Bloomies. It was a huge hassle and a huge disappointment.
    I think your amended counter-argument makes more sense. At least I was able to return the MJ bag and get back the $500+ I paid for it. Someone who buys a phony from some guy in an alley won't be so lucky.
  11. Do we really need to come up with arguments to persuade someone to our POV? People will always buy fakes. Yes I do believe people who buy them are trying to be something they're not, which is appearing more affluent than they really are. That's the reason most people buy knock off anything. Otherwise they'd just buy the no name brand or something with a similar look without the brand name or monogram on it. Also, do most people REALLY care about whether or not a bag can be returned? If you're buying a bag at 10% of the cost it still would be worth it to buy the fake even if it falls apart. I'd never bother to dissuade someone from buying fakes because it's a waste of time. Why do people need to be "convinced" to change? How many people here can be "convinced" to spend money on something other than a handbag, since they're "so expensive" and the money could be put to better use elsewhere? I don't agree with fakes, but hey, different strokes for different folks.
  12. shimmapuff, thank you for your enlightening breakdown of the usual arguments we've all read regarding counterfeit handbags. i can always count on your posts to be informative, intelligent, logical, and, not least of all, interesting.

    regardless of anyone's stance on replicas, we can all agree to disagree. after all, it's not easy changing someone's beliefs.
  13. No, I don't. The bag in my avatar is a bag I own and is in Current Rotation. I got it on clearance at Target. It was $16.99, which is pretty pricey for me, but I really liked it. ;)
    Exactly! No quality control department is going to be perfect, but if you buy a bag from an authorized retailer, even if it's not a designer bag, even if it is Bloomies or JC Penney or Target bag, and it falls apart, you have some recourse. There is an actual company you can complain to.

    With a fake bag, you are on your own. Maybe you'll luck up and find that guy in the same alley, and maybe he will give you a new fake bag. But you are taking a really big chance, and for what some of these alley guys are charging for fake bags, for two or three of them, you could go buy a designer bag!
    I agree with you and I don't. :smile: If the real one is $2000, 10% of the cost is still $200. There are a lot of people who buy fake bags because they don't have $2000 to spend on a purse. Someone who doesn't have $2000 is not going to want to risk losing $200. I think with that person, you have a fighting chance.

    Now if the fake is one of the ones being sold for $10-$20, you are absolutely right. I can't think of a good argument to dissuade most of those people, except the ones who can't afford to take a chance on throwing away even $10-20.

    We all have our own gripes about fake bags. One of mine happens to be that the exact same fake bag that is sold for $10 out of the back of a truck might be sold for $400 at a mall kiosk.
    I'm not sure we can change someone's beliefs. I think it might be possible to change some people's minds about buying fake bags. Not all, but some. Even if all you succeed in doing is convincing someone to Just Say No to the $400 fake and buy the $10 one, that is $390 that the fake bag industry did not get! :biggrin:
  14. ShimmaPuff, if you're ever in DC dinner and drinks are on me, seriously I love your posts. Very interesting points, some of which I've often thought but been too lazy to post and had I posted them they doubtfully would have come off as well.
  15. Shimma, where were you when I was defending my dissertation?

    Just kidding. I used to be a big fake hater. Then, one day while with DH, I saw a woman with a horrible fake Chanel. I said (she could not hear me) Oh how sick, look at that horrible fake. DH says, "so"? I went into my rant, he listened carefully and then responded: "but if it makes her feel good, what do you care, you sound catty and mean". I never called out a fake again.