So You Want To Buy A Sex Toy From Amazon
Step one : DON’T
But they’re so much cheaper on Amazooonnnnnnnah
Oh, I see. then
Step two : STILL DON’T
But I have free next day shipping with Amazon Primmmmeeeeeeah
Ah, well why didn’t you say so. In that case
Step three : STILL DO NOT DO THIS
I think you see where I’m going here.
Amazon and eBay, and lesser so Aliexpress and Alibaba, and the hellscape that is Wish are places you can purchase basically anything you could ever dream of, from socks to food to build-your-own-house kits to cars to meth smoking paraphernalia mislabeled as drinking straws (looking at you, Wish) and as I’m sure you’re aware – sex toys. But just because you can, does that mean you should? That’s the significantly less than a million dollars which is why you’re considering buying your sex toys on these websites in the first place question!
The answer is not really, no. Yes they’re cheap and yes there’s fast shipping and yes it comes in an amazon box so snoopy roommates, parents, kids, postal carriers, or whoever wont think twice about it – I understand all the reasons you want to. The answer is still no.
For starters, one of the reasons the toys you’re ogling at are so much cheaper on these websites from third-party sellers than they are on the brand-name webstore is because they’re very likely to be knock-offs of the brand-name toy you actually want. Third-party-seller sites like Amazon and eBay are full to the brim with knock-offs of quite literally everything, and there’s very little regulation to stop it. The sex toy industry is already unregulated and allows legitimate businesses to still market unsafe products, so it’s no surprise that there’s nobody going around and checking to make sure these products aren’t being counterfeited. It’s up to the individual brands to have their patents and copyrights in order and then do their own hunting for counterfeiters – many of whom are international and tough to track down, even harder to put a stop to. For major brands like We-Vibe, Lelo, Womanizer, Fun Factory, etc knock-off hunting is an all-day-every-day job for someone in their employ. For smaller companies, the hassle and expense of constant lawsuits just aren’t in the cards. In both cases, the companies rely heavily on the consumer to do their own homework and come to the conclusion that trying to cut corners and get a cheaper product from an unknown entity isn’t worth the gamble.
Think you can spot a fake? You might be right, but that’s besides the point. Even if you find a legitimate seller on one of these platforms, that still does not inherently guarantee you will receive legitimate product. There’s extra steps in this game.
The way that Amazon warehousing works is quite simple – and that makes it tricky.
If you want to be a seller on Amazon – let’s say of socks – the way you set your business up is this :
- Create your digital storefront
- purchase the socks you wish to sell from wherever you want to purchase them from (a wholesaler, usually)
- direct your purchase to the Amazon warehouse if you do not wish to be responsible for handling the packing and shipping of your items (most people do not want their living rooms piled to the ceiling with the HUGE amount of stock they had to buy for their online store or be responsible for packing and shipping hundreds of orders so they choose to let Amazon do it for them)
Think you get a bin of socks all to yourself on the Amazon warehouse floor? Think again. Amazon has absolutely no intention of wasting its resources unless it’s going to turn a profit. Unless you opt in for specialty treatment (which they do offer, but it costs you) Amazon pools together ALL the socks that are supposed to be the same kind (because the suppliers said they were – wink wink we totally trust them so we won’t bother to check, that’s not Amazon’s job) and puts everything into one bin (this is called co-mingling). This bin of socks could be supplied by 50 other sock sellers and you have no say over who else’s socks get mixed in with your legitimate stock.
When someone places an order for socks, an Amazon employee just goes over to the sock bin and grabs an item. They don’t check to make sure that your customers get the socks you supplied to the sock bin. Your customer may get lucky and get a legitimate pair of socks and be thrilled and leave you great reviews…or they might get crap socks that one of the other 50 sellers supplied to the warehouse, the socks suck, they leave you a bad review, and also now think that whatever brand of sock you’re selling is actually garbage because they can’t tell or have no reason to suspect they got a knock-off and not the real deal.
The sock example is disappointing but overall fairly harmless. So you got a crap pair of socks? Life goes on. But what happens if you get a knock-off sex toy? Well, it could hurt you, for starters. Knock-offs get to be so cheap by being all-around poorer quality than the original. This might mean the wrong materials (cheaper porous rubbers instead of silicone for example) or crappy motors that sometimes catch on fire, or just shoddy craftsmanship that means it will fall apart, or not even work at all upon arrival. In a grosser scenario, it might be a pre-used toy someone returned. You may have initially saved a few bucks, but now you have to pay a doctor bill for the chemical burn your dildo gave you, or your house burned down because your fake hitachi blew up.
Another problem with knock-offs is their lack of warranties, so if (when) it does break, you have no recourse with the brand you thought you were buying from. If I try to buy a Chanel handbag on Wish and it turns out to be a fake (surprise!) and the strap breaks or something, I would get laughed off the face of the earth if I tried to contact Chanel for a refund/replacement and they found out I didn’t buy the bag through them (or an authorized retailer) Sure you might be getting that toy you want for half the price, but when it turns out to be garbage and you cant use it, you have to spend more money to get another new toy. That’s not money well spent.
In a perfect world, Amazon’s model of co-mingling their stock is a great, simple, and efficient idea. Unfortunately, we don’t have a perfect world, we have a world full of cheats and fakes and people trying to turn a quick and easy profit with no consideration for their customers. With a product like sex toys where people are overall less knowledgable about what a toy should be like, and are generally less likely to speak up and make a big deal about it if something turns out wrong because it involves a very personal and often private matter, the bad guys are having a field day.
If you absolutely positively must purchase your sex toys from Amazon, it can be done, but it requires a ton of extra work on your part. You have to find legitimate authorized retailers of the product you have your eye on – of which there are very few. You then need to check to make sure they’re taking the extra step of not allowing their stock to be co-mingled at the warehouse because if they allow co-mingling you have no quality guarantees. You need to check the photos for authenticity (most rip-offs will just steal the original manufacturers photos anyway) and check the reviews (you need to know how to spot fake reviews, review bots, and paid review schemes) and make sure the item isn’t being sold below MAP (there goes your so-much-cheaper angle) and after all that, maybe you’ll get a legit toy.
Instead of the added hassle and uncertainty, I would simply suggest buying either directly from the source, or through legitimate, ethical, caring retailers. I very deliberately choose the companies and retailers I affiliate with (the left-hand sidebar on the home page under “Where To Shop”) and promote on my blog – I look for people who first and foremost have body-safety in mind. I look for shops with what I consider to be good ethics – they don’t peddle knock-offs or cheap junk, they do in-house testing and/or utilize review programs with people like me to ensure quality and safety, they believe in customer privacy and work to sell and ship discreetly. Finally I choose companies and shops who genuinely give a damn, who offer knowledgable, timely, and caring customer service.
At the end of the day I can’t force anyone’s hand, if you really want that $5 sex toy that would normally retail for $75+ who am I to stop you? And if it blows up on your nightstand or melts inside your genitals or doesn’t actually arrive…well…you were warned, but I sincerely hope that a little common sense (I can’t buy toothbrushes that cheap, why would an object that goes inside your body cost so little? Why and how would someone be able to get their hands on supposedly name-brand items for 90% less than their original cost? You have to know this is sketchy…) and a hefty dose of concern for your body and health will change your mind. Good quality toys don’t even have to be that expensive – and many aren’t! I can find piles of silicone dildos and plugs for as low as $30, and some cheap but still powerful vibes for only a little more. Quality toys are a worthwhile investment and often one-time-only purchase. None of my silicone, steel, or glass dildos will ever fall apart or melt or grow mold. I have vibrators going on a decade of use and as long as I charge them up now and then, they’re still going plenty strong. It’s worth it to save up for the real deal instead of taking a gamble on your health and wallet.