In some ways, we thought our business was so small, that we were kind of insulated from all the rampant online scams, frauds, fakes, and counterfeit goods, but this week we learned that no one is exempt.
Two customers reported to us this week that they saw someone else advertising our Saddle Barrel Bag on Facebook -- for less than 1/4 of our price -- using our photography, our hands, and our product descriptions. This is a moment that we have always dreaded as a small business creating original works of design.
The Facebook ads linked to two different websites, that looked identical except for the brand name and URL. They were purporting to sell all kinds of random, unrelated products: technology gadgets, garden statues, jewelry, clocks... and our barrel bag. Who knows how much of it is counterfeit and how much of it is just a scam to steal your money and never deliver a product?
Understandably, our customers seemed confused and upset -- but to our surprise and relief, it was not because they thought they'd gotten a bad deal from us, but because they knew the Facebook ads were scams or hoaxes. They were looking out for us.
That honestly touched us more than we can say. Our customers have our back. They know us. They know we couldn't sell our high quality handcrafted leather through a strange-looking website for a delusional price.
That trust runs both ways, and it's why we try our darnedest to provide excellent customer service, and keep the lines of communication open.
Thanks to our alert customers, we were able to report the offending ads and posts to Facebook and initiate a "DMCA Takedown" as their use of our photography, which feature our registered trademark "WALNUT", were a clear violation of intellectual property right laws.
Today, we checked back and the offending content has been removed:
(It seems apropos that the error page has a bandaged thumbs up. We feel a little battered by this violation, a little cut up, but in the end, we have something much more valuable than a sale: we have our customers' trust. We're going to be A-OK.)
If you see any false or misleading content that uses our photography, we'd appreciate it if you shoot us the link.
We're doing the best we can to maintain the integrity of our name, and protect the copyright of our photographers. If it wasn't for our customers looking our for us and alerting us to the scam, it could be duping someone else today.
The lesson learned here is, If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. The best source for our goods will always be directly through our website.