Neither topic in today’s post is original on my part; in fact, chances are you’ve already heard about each of these items from another website somewhere. However, I’m treating them both as public service announcements, with messages worthy of repetition and reinforcement in hopes of reaching as many people as possible.
However, they do have contrasting themes: one’s a “bad news” story, and the other is potentially very good news. We’ll start with the bad news.
I first started hearing reports of counterfeit Vibram FiveFingers early this year, but apparently the problem has reached frightening proportions as the popularity of the footwear continues to soar. Last month, Vibram released an official notice and recommendation list for its customers, which was bolstered by some tremendous detective work that Justin from BirthdayShoes.com did one month earlier.
Predictably, most of the black market trade takes place over the Internet, either through auction sites like eBay or the numerous counterfeit websites that seem to be popping up almost weekly. Vibram reports that they’re “working diligently on prosecuting the companies and people behind these forgeries,” but in the meantime, here are a few of their tips to avoid being a victim of a Five Fingered scam.
You know that FiveFingers products are fake if * The URL utilizes a spin-off of Vibram or FiveFingers. Hyphens, underscores, misspellings, and the number 5 instead of the word Five are dead giveaways. * There are colors and styles offered that you’ve never seen on the Vibram website . * Brands not named Vibram are offering their own “FiveFingers” products. * There are confusing or poorly written product descriptions and low-quality or low-resolution product images. * Discounts of more than 20% (and sometimes as much as 50%) are offered; they're almost always counterfeit. * Fabrics and materials appear different than on the Vibram website. * The retailer offers no contact phone number or the contact number immediately directs you to voicemail. * The retailer can’t be found on Vibram’s store locator . Vibram requires their retailers to have a brick and mortar location to be an official vendor.
Both of the links above (to Vibram's official response and the BirthdayShoes page) should also be recommended reading if you want to verify the authenticity of any Vibrams prior to purchasing.
Now for the good news: Vibram is currently conducting a sweepstakes in conjunction with their new outdoor website called Grip Your World , and the big giveaway is pretty darn cool: one grand prize winner will receive a trip for two to Chamonix, France and tickets to the prestigious North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc ultramarathon in August. Twenty second place winners will win an (authentic!) pair of Vibram FiveFingers.
Apparently the sweepstakes has been going on for a while, but word is spreading more rapidly this week because the deadline for entry is this Friday, June 18th. To enter, go to Grip Your World and upload a photo, along with a story if you’d like, and you’re entered to win. Pretty simple, huh?
If you win, be sure to send me a postcard from France; it’s the least you could do to say thanks. If I win, I promise to do the same.