If you’re a reputable Chinese gadget maker with millions of dollars at stake because Amazon banned your ass from blowing up user reviews … do you fall over? Sue? Or change a single letter in your name and try to sneak back to Amazon anyway?
It certainly seems that Sunvalley, the parent company of the popular brands RavPower, Vava and TaoTronics, chose door number three.
We recently discovered all three banned brands left on the Amazon storefront under the finest disguises: Vava had changed its name to “Vav”, TaoTronics became “Taotronic”, and RavPower was simply “Amber.” We took screenshots for posterity:
Nor are they the only ones. The banned brand Choetech did not even have to change a letter in the beginning. It just hid from ordinary sight.
Amazon did not capture any of these listings until we brought it to our attention almost two weeks ago, on September 17th. It was only yesterday that the company finished removing them – because yes, Amazon determined that it was really bad players who were trying to avoid their bans.
Here is the company’s full statement for Edges:
We blocked these brands, their product detail pages, and the sales accounts used to commit their policy violations. Unfortunately, these bad players are motivated and use various tactics to avoid detection in their attempts to harm honest customers, sales partners and Amazon. We have a number of proactive controls in place that prevent the vast majority of their attempts. If you spot a bad actor trying to re-enter our store that we missed, we will quickly investigate and take the necessary action, including using this to continue to improve our proactive controls. Customers can contact customer service 24/7 via phone, email and chat with any concerns they have about a product or their shopping experience.
Amazon does not formally have a ban-avoidance policy like some other platforms. No, the company does not let you have more than one merchant account – but it does not necessarily apply here because Amazon deletes these brands’ previous accounts from the card. The new statement makes it pretty clear that the deterrent does not end when a company’s first seller account is launched on Amazon; they must be gone.
But if that’s the intention, Amazon needs to intensify its game.
Between the time we reported these items to Amazon and the time they removed them, we purchased each of the above images, had them sent to us, and confirmed that they were legitimate. While we were waiting for them to ship, we found more sellers who carry these banned products, the ones we did not report to Amazon, which are still in operation today.
Let me show you here how easy it is to find a brand that evades its ban. Here is another image of the Choetech Wireless Charger:
Take a closer look at the top left. See how Amazon recommends that I choose a charger that is very similar instead? Let’s click on it.
It looks like because it is same – it’s even sold by “Choe Technology.” Choe Tech. Choetech.
Just to be absolutely sure, we bought the unnamed charger from Amazon. Here it is, Choetech logo and everything:
In the upper right corner of this image, there is a sticker that says “100% official product.” The back of the box has a QR code you can scan that takes you to choetech.com. Hell, there’s even a Choetech “Scratch and Check” label so you can be sure it’s authentic. I just could not stop laughing how thoroughly official this product was.
I should probably add that if you search for “Choetech” on Amazon, the company’s products-12 of them and count-are the first non-sponsored search results. I know Amazon employees can not beat every mole everywhere, but if Amazon’s search engine knows exactly how to refer consumers to its banned brand, one would think that the company could also target its employees to them.
If you are wondering, no, none of these products came with an obvious “we give you money for a review” insert card like the ones I ask for to a future story. However, three of them came with a card indicating that I would participate in their “VIP” program.
PS Maybe Amazon should check out Kaloxi, which looks like a dead ringtone for TaoTronics. And to the Amazon rep who sniffed out iSmart before I could make you aware of it: kudos!
Sunvalley did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Our emails to Choetech jumped.