Your Amazon Order May Block Your Access to Trusted Travel Programs

You wouldn’t think online shopping could cause customs issues, but if you accidentally order fake products on Amazon, it can happen. If you plan to travel a lot, you probably want to double check your bookings from now on.

Last year, Harper Reed, a Paypal engineer, ordered a suitcase from Amazon. It was Rimowa, a high-end luggage brand that usually costs several hundred dollars. On Twitter (see below), Reed explained that he paid full price for the suitcase and that the ad looked like any other item sold on Amazon, except it didn’t. Reed never received the suitcase, was promptly returned his $ 700 payment, and instead went to Neiman Marcus to buy it there. There was no explanation from Amazon, and although he was a little alarmed, he got on with his life.

Then, in November, Reed applied for an extension of his Global Entry status, a Trusted Traveler program for “low-risk pre-approved travelers” offered by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This speeds up the airport security process for approved travelers, saving you a lot of time and hassle. But, to Reed’s surprise, he was turned down. Without his knowledge, the customs detained him for importing some counterfeit goods. Guess what it was? True, he never received the Rimowa suitcase. According to Racked’s Hillary George-Parkin , a CBP spokesperson has confirmed that past customs or regulations violations in your account could invalidate your eligibility for Trusted Traveler programs. Deliberately or accidentally, you screwed up. You can appeal the refusal , but the process can take months and every trip you make during that time will be frustrating.

So what happened? It’s impossible to say for sure (CBP does not disclose details), but US Customs likely intercepted the batch of the fake package as soon as it arrived, then a seizure notice was sent to Rimowa with the names of the importer and exporter breaking the law. In the meantime, Reed got the money back for the bag, and none of them carried it with them. From there, Rimowa probably had the opportunity to take some action, but since stalking the exporter is an expensive pain in the ass (as is the middleman, Amazon), they chose an easier target: Rida. He was flagged for importing counterfeits and was therefore denied worldwide access.

Counterfeiting and scams by fraudulent third-party sellers are a growing problem in the Amazon marketplace, so it is more important than ever for you to pay close attention to the items you buy, especially if they are shipped to you from overseas. Watch out for huge discounts, learn how to spot fake reviews, double check who you’re buying from, and don’t hesitate to contact Amazon Customer Service if anything seems wrong. When in doubt, shop for luxury and well-known brands directly from their stores and websites. Cases like Reed’s are rare (this may even be the first such case), but this is a clear reminder that shoppers really need to watch out.

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