Sex Toy Scams
Beyond what we warn most about on our site (which is avoiding a sexual product that contains toxins such as lead, phthalates or parabens, etc.) many consumers are finding out after they make a purchase from shady resellers of sex toys that they have bought counterfeit products, have purchased used products that were returned from a previous purchase and even sold products packaged together that should under no circumstances be used together.
In 2014, the National Association for the Advancement of Science & Art in Sexuality (NAASAS.org) did an undercover investigation and found that over 10% of the retail sex toys they purchased for the study through major online retailers showed signs that they had been previously opened. Indicators noted in the study to determine if a sex toy had been previously purchased were physical evidence found on the sex toys such as human body hair (including pubic hair), vaginal and anal secretions (including fecal matter), saliva, finger prints, lubricant residue, animal fur, lint from clothing and more. These unethical practices are outright disturbing and are trends that are growing. Below we review how some of these unscrupulous sex toy sales are occurring as well as how we make buying our brand new sexual products safe, easy and discreet.
Sexual products may be stolen or refurbished (used sex toys) and in these situations the old adage of 'too good to be true,' may apply as many unethical retailers will put them on sale at a price that is equal or even below their own costs to entice you to buy them and help them to get rid of them. We suggest you use extreme caution when purchasing products that could put your health at risk such as using a previously used sex toy.
What Warning Sign to Look For-
One of the first flags as a consumer will be those companies that will take back a used sex toy that is not defective. A good sex toy retailer will not allow for a sex toy that they can no longer verify as unused back into their inventory so take a look at a sex toy company's return policy to see if they are allowing for someone to send back that dildo they used and decided to send back to let someone else try. Some resellers will say that they only accept returns if they are unused and unopened" but most sex toy manufacturers do not shrink wrap or safety seal their products so its not difficult to carefully close up a sex toy box and make it look like it was never opened.
That is why, as an ethical company, we cannot take properly working sex toys back. In fact, on the rare occasion that a customer reports one as defective, we have them dispose of the defective product and provide a replacement or if the manufacturer wants it back to better understand what caused the defect we have the customer send it directly to the manufacturer with a prepaid shipping label. We will NEVER take back a sex toy into our warehouses where we have our inventory because we cannot verify that it was not used or tampered with and we simply care too much about our loyal customers to risk their health.
Sex Toys Should Only Be Sold by an Authorized Dealer
One of the biggest concerns beyond toxins in sex toys and used sex toys, are online counterfeit scams and the most shocking thing is that these scams are occurring through major online retailers that allow for third party sellers such as Amazon, Ebay, Aliexpress and Alibaba. Many of the major retailers that use third party sellers to provide them with the products or that have the third party companies sell through them are allowing scam artists into your life and wallets.
Consumers make the mistake of feeling secure buying from them because of their brand name but the products are not actually being purchased by the major retailer, rather they are being supplied by independent sellers. We know this because we are not just a retailer, but we are also a manufacturer and we sell our products through them so we have a very clear understanding of how all of this actually works as well as how some unethical businesses are taking advantage of you and violating your trust.
Just like in the fashion industry where there are knockoff designer products such as Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and others; there are also knockoff sex toys posing as such brands as Lelo, Njoy, Fun Factory, We-Vibe, Fleshlights, Tenga, and even the Hitachi Wand. Because these brands are so popular many manufacturers outside of the U.S. Decide to get in on the scene by introducing products that look very similar to the real brand with identical packaging, colors and even use the brand's logo. We know about them because we are constantly being contacted by these companies wanting us to resell these counterfeit items for them here in the United States.
Some knock-off brands do not even try to pretend to sell as the brand name, they are just sold as cheap sex toys. The problem is many of these are being sold direct from China and other countries that use toxic materials to make their cheap toys. See our article on toxins in sex toys to become better educated about this. Furthermore, those that allow for returns, restock used items and resell them, meaning you may be getting a used sex toy.
So how do these scam artists work?
They get a sellers account through one of the major retailers (i.e. Amazon, Ebay, Aliexpress and Alibaba). They can choose to ship you the products themselves which makes it easier for consumers to see who they are buying from but they can also send in their inventory to a warehouse where it is stored until it sells and then the major retailer then ships it out for them. The major retailer makes their money by taking a cut of the profits that the seller pays them.
However, for the consumer who is often in the dark, it looks like it is a product that is being fulfilled by a reputable big name company and that they are obtaining the product from the legitimate manufacturer when in reality the major retailer is not buying the products at all. In most cases, they are simply storing them for the independent reseller and meanwhile, the consumer has no idea who is involved in selling them that sex toy or where it came from let alone its authenticity or if it is really new.
Example of how to spot a fake sex toy-
There are sometimes subtle differences that you can spot if you know what to look for with a counterfeit sex toy such as is the case with a Hitachi Magic Wands. For example-
Make sure when buying any sex toy that you are buying from a certified reseller. You may be charged a few dollars more, but you will know it is authentic, that the warranty on it will be good and if the sex toy retailer is ethical that it will not be a used sex toy. Those resellers who are certified will be able to answer a few basic questions for you such as knowing whether a brand has a Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP) agreement and in some cases can verify that they have had to sign legal paperwork showing they will abide by such agreements.
It is important to also ask sellers about these issues as it can show you that they are in good standing with the actual manufacturer. You can also contact the manufacturer directly to ask if the reseller is an authorized or certified seller of their products. This also means researching third party sellers through companies like Amazon and Ebay, etc. If you cannot find out who you are actually buying from because a major retailer is doing fulfillment for them, then you may want to avoid such a purchase all together from a company that allows for third party sales.
Companies that sell way below an MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price) are often violating the manufacturer's sales agreement and are considered to be unauthorized sellers. When a company sells products as an unauthorized dealer, the manufacturer will not honor the warranty on the product. That means if the product were to break you would not be able to get any form of compensation through a replacement or repair.
There are some companies that sell wholesale to the general public. This is forbidden by reputable and legitimate manufacturers that supply the products they sell and they are at risk of not being able to carry such products once the manufacturer discovers this violation. There are a few reasons why selling low is done as you must remember that all businesses must make money to stay around, so if the price is too good to be true, it most likely is as you will be paying for it in other ways. Please note that we do not do any of the following as we respect and care about our customers.
Selling and Sharing of Your Information
Advertising to You
Stolen or Used Merchandise
We have seen a variety of sex toy retailers that decided to get into this business to make money and who have little knowledge about the safety of sexual products. We feel strongly that retailers such as these are causing harm to consumers by selling them products that have toxins in them but are also providing inaccurate information and in some cases selling sex toys with lubricants that can actually chemically melt the sex toy.
It is shocking to go onto other retail sites to see them selling a sex toy with a lubricant that will melt the sex toy material as the health risks of this may be harmful. This is particularly common on some of the major retailers that allow for third party sales where they will offer a free lubricant in order to entice you to buy the sex toy but are pairing a sex toy with a lubricant that is incompatible.
We brought this to the attention of the largest online retailers as we educate professionals through our National Association for the Advancement of Science & Art in Sexuality - NAASAS.org and SexToyConsulting.com; but nothing was done to change this so consumers are continuing to be misled by thinking that what they are buying is always safe and compatible. This problem continues to not only persist but also expand. It is our hope by educating you about these concerns that we can positively effect change for consumer safety and satisfaction.
Retailers depend on the manufacturers to provide them with information about their products as the regulation for sex toy safety is quite lax. Sex toys are classified by the FDA as adult novelties and not medical devices so the lack of regulations for safety as well as labeling means that even retailers have a hard time understanding what they are selling let alone a consumer who depends on the reseller to educate them about the products.
It can get even more complicated when the manufacturer of a product is really just the brand holder. For example, many sex toy manufacturers out source with a manufacturer in China to have their products made for them and have those products private labeled with their brand name. The brand holding 'manufacturer' may or may not independently test either the products and take the word of the actual manufacturer that what they are telling them about the materials used to create their products is accurate.
The brand holder then in turn distributes their products to distributors and sometimes retailers. More often with small retailers they buy from the distributors rather than directly (this can vary). By the time the retailers get the product to sell to you they may be completely in the dark about what the product is really made out of and are basing the information they give the consumers on marketing hype.
If you purchase a product from a non authorized reseller many times the warranty for your sex toy will not be valid. Many people are selling items that they are not authorized to sell through major online merchants like Amazon, Wal-mart, etc. and should your purchase them while you may be lucky and get a new, legitimate sex toy; it may not be covered under the manufacturer's warranty as most manufacturer's do not allow resellers to sell on Ebay, Amazon, etc.
Many sex toy manufacturers saw that there were health benefits in using 100% silicone to make sex toys because they are nonporous, hypoallergenic, phthalate free and long-lasting. The issue is that it is much more expensive to manufacturer a sex toy using 100% silicone so to cut costs some manufacturers started branding non-silicone sex toys as silicone blend sex toys to get consumers to buy them even when there was no silicone in them. For example a common term was TPR Silicone which became popular with many sex toy manufacturers when in fact there is no such thing as a TPR (thermoplastic rubber) and silicone blend. Another attempt to confuse retailers and consumers was by a sex toy manufacturer that uses the term SEBS Silicone when SEBS is actually a rubber and stands for Styrene Ethylene Butylene Styrene Copolymer.
You can see that you practically need a degree in chemistry to understand what sex toys are made out of and how to use them so our best advice to consumers is to only use a sex toy retailer that clearly does their homework and discloses the materials used in a product along with resources that help you to understand what those materials are and how to best care for them.