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Summary:

As the holiday gift-giving season is upon us, a good reminder to read reviews of products before buying online: Dozens of complaints on Amazon show that many of the “Apple Smart Covers” and ” Apple Smart Cases” for sale on the site are not the real thing.

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Something to keep in mind if you’re shopping for an iPad Smart Cover or Smart Case heading in to the holidays: not all of them are created equal, especially on Amazon.com. For many of us, Amazon is a natural place to order an iPad cover or case as a gift this holiday. But as dozens of complaints on the site show, many of the “Apple Smart Covers” or “Apple Smart Cases” for sale on Amazon are not actually sold by Apple and are not the genuine article.

As first pointed out by Frequent Business Traveler, many customers have been fooled into buying one of these through Amazon, believing they just bought an actual iPad case from Apple. And you can’t blame them, based on how the products are presented.

Amazon user “Forest” uploaded this image comparing the fake iPad cover he bought on Amazon to a real Apple iPad cover.

If you search Google for “Apple Smart Cover on Amazon” the first half dozen links (as of today) will take you to an Amazon page that labels these covers “by Apple.” But just below that — in far smaller print — you will read that the orders are sold by another company, often NC Apple Tree or Less Deals, and fulfilled by Amazon. That’s not normally cause for concern — third-party retailers sell other brands’ products to Amazon customers through its affiliate program all the time.

But reading the customer reviews from those who have purchased these covers shows something is amiss. There are several dozen negative reviews that are each a variation on this complaint: “is is a fake! it is not the real apple smart cover! i bought this and i turned out to be just some plastic with magnets on the side that didn’t even fit the iPad 2 and was just a replica.”

The same goes for some of the Smart Cases for sale (the kind that protect the entire iPad, not just the screen), which are fulfilled through Amazon by a company called FantaWare, that also lists the case as “by Apple.” Here’s a sample review from several weeks ago: “This looks sort of like an authentic Apple Smart Case but much thinner. I know because I have one I bought directly from Apple. It came in a box with a clear top, this one arrived in a plastic bag. The liner is also not as soft as the true Apple Product.” There are many more like it.

Here’s how the items are displayed by Amazon:

It specifically says it’s “by Apple,” with a link to a page full of real Apple products that Amazon sells, like iPods, iPhones, MacBooks and more. Only in the small print below “In Stock” does it say it’s sold by a third party.

Based on other feedback, some customers seem aware these are not real Apple Smart Covers and are fine with it. But it’s understandable why many would be confused over whether this was a legitimate Apple product and feel ripped off. Looking back through these reviews, it’s clear this has been going on for some time; some of the negative reviews date back to 2011. Obviously this is an important lesson in reading reviews before ordering something. But it’s also clear that Amazon needs to fix the way the products on its site are labeled.

Amazon didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment on this. I also tried to contact Apple to find out if they even sell real iPad Smart Cases or Covers on Amazon, but did not hear back. My own searches didn’t find any that appear to come direct from Apple.

It’s probably best to follow what an Amazon customer service representative told Jonathan Spira, who described his experience with this in the Frequent Business Traveler blog: “check out these items you wish to order from the Apple store directly to ensure their genuineness.”

  1. My leather Bear Motion smart cover for the NEW iPad works as it was intended and as I would expect. And the price was better than other covers.

  2. I guess you meant coarse, not course.

  3. I don’t know if I’m the only one who hates the smart cover and finds it completely useless.

  4. This issue is limited to more than just the Smart Cover. Every Apple accessory (cord, power adapter, headphones, etc.) has a counterfeit equivalent being sold by a third part right along with the legit Apple product sold by Amazon.

    This goes beyond Apple products. The gloves I ordered from a third-party on Amazon were generic knock-offs of the name-brand version.

    Sometimes the third-party counterfeits are sold by third parties, but warehoused and shipped from Amazon / Amazon Prime, making it more difficult to differentiate the true merchant.

  5. I hate smart cover too.

  6. For those who don’t think this is a big deal: the problem isn’t so much that the knock-offs are being sold, it’s that Amazon is misinforming their customers by saying the knockoffs are made “by Apple.” That’s a problem.

  7. Why would apple sell on amazon when they have retail stores and online sites in every country out there. If anything going through amazon would cost them more money.

    This article should have compared the quality of the fake items against apples own and weighed up if it was actually worth paying the full amount at apple…

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