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.(s AMZN) For many of us, Amazon is a natural place to order an iPad (s aapl) 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.
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.”