Nov 292016
 

img_20161129_110321Recently I posted an article calling out Tracy’s Dog for being a shady, shady brand. This isn’t the first time I’ve purposely purchased a sex toy from Amazon suspecting bad results (see also: Glass safety post, Silica Gel post) but it’s the first time I took a leap of faith and committed to filing a report with Amazon. I was happy enough with the results of my chat, and saw a glimmer of hope for cleaning up Amazon. If more folks would file reports, and go beyond just leaving a 1-star customer review, we might be able to slowly whittle away at all of the counterfeit products and the incorrect material claims1. The most effective options are ones for those who have purchased the offending item from Amazon, but even non-customers can do a few things. Here are all the various ways we can start to clean up Amazon:

File an A-to-Z Protection Claim

There’s talk of this “A-to-Z” guarantee protection, and so I looked into it. I quickly hit a snag when I followed these directions:

To file an A-to-z Guarantee Claim on an eligible order:

  • Go to Your Orders.
  • Locate your order in the list and click Get help with order.
  • Select a reason code to describe your issue.
  • Select Request refund through A-to-z Guarantee.
  • Enter the required information and select Submit

Well, I didn’t see the “Get help with order” button on the order I needed to report. I saw it on a couple of other, more recent orders. My order definitely fit in the 90-days timeframe. You might see it if you try to contact the seller, though (but I never have on any order, so I’m not sure why a few showed the link and most don’t) – and you should, to see if you can get your money back. I found no way to contact the seller on my order – perhaps because it was outside of the Amazon 30-day returns? I don’t know. But the A-to-Z thing didn’t pan out. So…Now what?

Live Chat

I went to “Contact Us“. You start by choosing the order you want to report. Then in section 2 you select an issue. I selected “Problem with the order” and then “Wrong item or not as expected”. When Chat opened, I explained the situation at hand: The seller’s ad copy in their listing says silicone, the box says silicone, but it’s not silicone. They didn’t ask me to prove it; they didn’t ask me how I knew. I chose to tell them about my blog and a little about the flame test method. I could have also linked to the post where we talk about the flashlight test on clear TPR and silicone, but I didn’t need to.  They confirmed they were filing a report for me, and told me that if more customers give similar feedback, they’ll investigate the seller. 

I’ve always received good help from Amazon’s live chat, but sometimes it’s been clear that there’s been a bit of a language barrier. In the case of reporting the Tracy’s Dog vibrator, I could tell that the person I was speaking with understood the situation perfectly (and in fact asked me more about everything; she was a med student, too) and I didn’t need to further explain my links, my materials testing, etc. She appreciated the links I gave her though, and thanked me for doing research before contacting them. If others out there ever want to report this particular brand, feel free to link to my Tracy’s Dog vibrator post to give Amazon background information on the problems with the brand.

The bottom line here is this bit from my Live Chat conversation with Amazon – I was told by the Live Chat associate:

“I have submitted your claim. You may also leave feedback on the products review page for others to see. Hopefully we will get more claims and that will speed up the priority of the investigation.”

And when I asked about others reporting:

Those that have bought it from Amazon should definitely contact us as well because it brings the problem to our attention sooner than the reviews. The reviews are more for customers to have an idea as to what others think.”

Write a Customer Review

While the customer review won’t alert Amazon, it could help in deterring others from purchasing the item. Ultimately, this is what we want: we don’t want customers purchasing shady products from shady brands. You can write a customer review even if you haven’t purchased the sex toy from Amazon (but you should own the item, at least). Reviews from folks who’ve purchased though may hold more weight and will show as “Verified Review”.

Leave Seller Feedback

This is again only something that customers who purchased from Amazon can do. In your Orders history next to every item is a “Leave Seller Feedback” button.  I gave the seller 1 star, confirmed that it arrived on time, said that it wasn’t as advertised, and again discussed material discrepancy in the comments section. This will be seen by both Amazon and the seller. Too many bad seller feedback reports will also cause an investigation.

amazonreport4

Report Incorrect Information

There’s a link that you will only see if you’re logged in to your Amazon account, where you can report incorrect information. You don’t need to have purchased the product, but you should be certain that the information in the listing is incorrect. The link can be hard to spot; it floats around based on the size of the product picture.  If the picture is small, the link is right up under photo or bulleted list of product highlights. If the picture is large the link may float farther over to the right. Below are two examples.

amazonreport1

amasonreport2

When I clicked on the link, because the incorrect information was everywhere and not just the bulleted points, I chose “Other product details” first, and then after some thought I went back and reported again to point out the bulleted list. The next drop down wants to know what the issue is. I put “incorrect information”, but “product quality issue” may also be valid. On listings like the items I purchased for the Silica Gel post, I would choose “conflicting information” because those items said silicone in some parts of the listing, silica gel in others, and so on. Does it help to report over and over again on the product for every issue? I don’t know. Because we could say that the Tracy’s Dog rabbit vibrator also had “conflicting information” – while all of the ad copy from the seller, Tracy’s Dog, said silicone the Product Description (which I assume Amazon writes?) said TPR. But it only ever said TPR in that one little section, and that is easy to overlook when they say “silicone” 15 other places.

amazonreport3

It would take a massive effort worldwide, really, and I feel that this reporting needs to be done across the board – not just sex toys, but all items on Amazon that you receive which seem in poor shape. Counterfeit products are rampant on Amazon, products of all kinds, and these counterfeits are killing small businesses. Maybe a change can happen; maybe Amazon will just stop selling sex toys. Until this massive change happens, though, please think twice before you buy that sex toy from Amazon.  You’ll get much better customer care and support by shopping with amazing folks like Shevibe, Early to Bed, Come as You Are, Smitten Kitten and many other small, feminist shops both online and in-store  – for more information on where to shop, go to the last portion of this article.

 

 

  1. allow me this one moment of sheer optimism
 Posted by at 12:54 pm
  • FieryRed

    YES to all of this. Another major offending category on Amazon in this vein is items listed as “silk” which are actually polyester satin. Seems way too many people no longer know that silk is a fiber and satin is a weave, so just because a fabric is silky-feeling does not make it silk.

    Pipedream does this too, with their “Japanese Silk Rope,” which is made of polyester fibers.

  • Tzipora

    I want to high five you for all of this! I’ve never bought and never will buy a toy from a Amazon but heck, I have gotten some books with damaged covers before (new ones and I’m finicky about my books haha) and had a friend encourage me to report it but I’m lazy I guess. I never get around to it. Heck, it took some encouragement from you to contact WeVibe when my Tango was having a bunch of issues. I’m sure plenty of other people are like me, they just don’t bother or don’t think it will help. Or perhaps they aren’t even sure how to go about it.

    For all those reasons I think this post of yours is so, so important and I really hope that people will find it when searching about buying bad toys from Amazon and I hope they feel encouraged to make reports as well. It’s gotta feel good knowing how much you’ve personally helped make the sex toy world and general sexual health better with your entire blog in general and there’s something about seeing your efforts that makes the rest of us want to help too, I think. It’s so encouraging. And so important. Some of my first couple of toys (bought in person before online shops were a big thing) were this cruddy see through TPR (don’t think any were ever jelly thank gosh though I actually discovered a latex allergy in the worst way when I started learning about safety and had a reaction from a toy so decided to cover it with a condom. Had to educate several friends who choose to tease me about putting a condom on a toy). Needless to say, no one should have to go through the hell of feeling like their vagina is screaming and the waddle to the drug store to buy beneadryl (and I realize beneadryl probably wouldn’t help with actual burns from shitty sex toys so it could’ve been worse still).

    I’m proud to “know” you even if just online. Keep up the amazing work. And I just really wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you and the work you’re doing. High five for helping to educate that med student working for Amazon too!

  • Tzipora

    Also, I wonder if the same thing would work with the shit Groupon sells? I’m almost positive they seek a number of counterfeit type things outside of sex toys as well (look at their perfume and cosmetics sometimes as just one example. I’m as geeky about and collect perfume and make up the way I do sex toys). And given the guarantees they do (though I’m not fully sure how it works with their Groupon Goods stuff. I’ve only ever bought the coupon type thingies for local stores and restaurants) I’d be hopeful they’d listen as well, maybe.

  • Dubious

    Wow, I found this site by pure chance through a Reddit post and fell down a rabbit hole.

    I was wondering why I was getting painful burning when using an Icegem dildo that I purchased from Amazon, unfortunately from a reputable seller. For a time there I thought something was wrong with me. I thought I was not using enough lube….how naive. I am literally shocked at everything I have read on this site and how we have all been misled and outright lied too.

    I have just thrown out that Icegem dildo, a TPR ‘realistic’ one and also my prized ‘silicone’ vibrator that smelled….I had no idea…no friggin clue… Thank fully I was able to return the expensive Cyberskin dildo I had just purchased. But sooo much wasted time, money…not to mention the worry, and literal pain these liars have caused myself and so many others.

    I cannot thank you enough for all this carefully compiled information. I am now so much better informed and restarting my collection with a brand new Tantus piece that arrived today.

  • No idea. I think the only thing I ever got from Groupon was a gift certificate for someplace. When that’s all it was, it was fine. But now it’s like some jacked up combination of Ebay and AliExpress.

  • I’m happy that you have your answers, but I am so sad to hear of yet another person burned by a bad sex toy.

    I looked up the dildo in question and am finding it only on UK sites for some reason. And Lovehoney. They list it as PVC. I’m finding that even when PVC products are labeled as “phthalates-free”, they can still cause burning. I found one blogger review of it and while I didn’t have time to read it, the opening line visible on Google was “This is the first and last time I review a toxic sex toy” so I think that had a similar experience. If I had my way, PVC would never be a sex toy material again.

    I’m curious about the brand of the “silicone” dildo that smelled? Silicone CAN have an odor, but usually not a lingering one, there are factors that can cause it to have a chemical odor right out of the packaging.

  • Dubious

    The PVC dildo was the ‘Ice Gem Realistic Dildo with Balls 5 inch’. I found it on Amazon.uk and the seller was Lovehoney. That was how I first found Lovehoney. Initially I wrote a scathing review about the burning and the sticky, horrible feel of the item on Amazon, but was left wondering why no one else was reporting this issue and removed the review thinking naively that it was just me. It is definitely advertised as phthalates and latex free. Also I used a water based lube that I have been using for years so that was definitely not an issue.

    The silicone dildo is called ‘Happy Pink by Smile’ with the logo You2Toys on it, that I purchased in 2013 on Amazon. After reading the information here and on other sites and ditching my toxic and porous dildos, I took no chances and smelling this vibrator realized that there was a pretty pungent smell to it despite it being carefully cleaned over the years. I decided to research what it was made of and tracked down the You2Toys site here…
    http://www.you2toys.com/smile-happy-pink

    What worried me was that there is no mention of it being free of phthalates, yet on other similar products like this one (http://www.you2toys.com/smile-easy-white-vibrator) supposedly made of the exact same materials, it states ‘Free of phthalates according to EU regulation REACH’

    In fact nowhere on the many sites that still sell the ‘Happy ‘ vibrator is it ever stated that the item is ‘phthalates free’, or is there any information of the quality of the silicone. Lovehoney has ‘discontinued’ this vibrator (http://www.lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=27852) however that may or may not be due to it’s materials.

    So taking no more chances mine took a flying leap into the trash bin. Lesson learned, I am not not taking any chances anymore.

  • If you feel up for it, I’d suggest putting the review back on Amazon, and if the item exists on Lovehoney, review it there too. Then, back to Amazon, follow some of the steps listed here to get it reported. Even if it isn’t being misrepresented, it’s causing bodily harm and I would HOPE that Amazon would care about that.

    That You2toys brand is something I recognize, but very strange that a silicone would have such a bad odor after all that time. You were right though to throw it out, could have been mislabeled. The brand had more visibility in the US about 5 years ago or so, I remember wanting to review more of their products when they were available at Edenfantasys.

    If something is labeled silicone, I don’t always see a phthalates-free labeling on it, presumbably because silicone never needed phthalates to begin with. I’ve not worried at seeing the lack of that wording on a silicone product, but it’s not unheard of to see it.

  • maverickuv

    Please, can someone let us know, what about buying the men toys from drugstores (online website) like Walgreens and CVS??

  • maverickuv

    And Thanks a ton Lilly. You are a wonderful and passionate person. The level and depth of analysis you have done for these things and which such diligence you have shared all the details around the safety measures :)…I was almost ready to buy my first toy from AMZ and I luckily came across your blog! You saved me some unnecessary pain. But I have asked a separate ques below…(I do have a hint, but want to know your formal answer). Thanks again.

  • In store? Fine.

    Online? I have no idea. Online they seem to be going the way of “marketplace”. I know that at Wal-greens the Magic Wand is lower than MAP, and they’re breaking MAP. However, I have been told that Vibratex is working on getting in touch with them to make things right. I can only say that I would be suspicious of a company selling something drastically lower than the retails I vouch for.

    But theres no articles written about how these stores work when buying online. There’s no information. There are no complaints in my inbox. I can’t say one way or the other. If someone wants to take the risk, that’s on them. But you’re also losing the stellar customer service and support if you buy from a place like CVS or Wal-greens; you will never get the support and help that you’d get from a place like SheVibe.

  • maverickuv

    Thanks! Atleast I see no complaint reported to you as of now. Though I do understand that the retailers you support have their own advantages.
    I don’t see any toys for men sold in the WG/CVS stores. All are sold online. I guess I have to consider my options from here. But thanks a lot for your help and info. I will check at SHeVibe as well…
    Last ques – Is there a way we can get any coupons or discount for SHeVIbe?

  • Because SheVibe has low prices already, they don’t do coupon codes for any time of the year. They do offer 10-15% off specific brands or items every month and weekend, it changes, plus around the major holidays there are sitewide sales, Black Friday weekend being the biggest.