Wednesday, 8 February 2006

eBay in the dock over fake Tiffany jewellery

Having come this close at a collectors' fair to buying a "Tiffany" silver bangle that turned out to be a fake, it was heartening to learn that the U.S. jewellery manufacturer is suing eBay which is surely the source of most if not all the dud pieces currently circulating.

We were searching out a graduation gift for the older of the two young apprentices and the bangle would have been just right. However, we spotted that the signature turquoise box it came in just wasn't up to scratch and that was enough to sound the alarm.

The stallholder felt as cheated as we did. She had purchased the bangle in good faith from a visitor to the fair, and in all honesty, the bangle itself looked entirely right. If it hadn't been for the fact that the printed Tiffany name on the box was smudged and printed skewed, we'd have handed over our cash and left none the wiser.

It turns out that in 2004, Tiffany secretly purchased 200 items off eBay, and discovered that three out of four pieces were fakes.

An eBay spokesman said: "We never take possession of the goods sold through eBay, and we don't have any expertise. We're not clothing experts. We're not car experts, and we're not jewellery experts. We're experts at building a marketplace and bringing buyers and sellers together."

If Tiffany wins the case, which is expected to go to trial by the end of the year, eBay should brace itself for a rash of copycat suits.

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