The RealReal has come under fire for reportedly misleading customers seeking secondhand luxury goods. As one of America’s largest pre-owned consignment stores — it filed to go public in May 2019 — clients depend on The RealReal to verify the authenticity of the often-pricey garments and accessories it handles, but Quartz highlights recent controversies surrounding the company’s verification practices.
Detailed in a report by CNBC, a lack of appropriate training is key to the issues plaguing The RealReal. For instance, much of the verification is reportedly handled by untrained copywriters subjected to restrictive production quotas. Interviews with former employees and review of internal documents led to a conclusion that “the company’s claim of expert authentication was not accurate.”
These unreliable proclivities have been documented in the past. “They give you a quick 5-minute presentation on what things should look like and then have you go,” one copywriter told The Capitol Forum earlier this year. “I should not have been authenticating an Hermes scarf, for example, but all they care about is the product getting on the site. … It’s really hard for someone to properly authenticate something when they’re not probably the best qualified to be even doing that in the first place.”
Meanwhile, The RealReal maintains that it values verification highly, writing in its SEC filing that “our success depends on our ability to accurately and cost-effectively determine whether an item offered for consignment is an authentic product.” However, it acknowledges that “while we have invested heavily in our authentication processes and we reject any goods we believe to be counterfeit, we cannot be certain that we will identify every counterfeit item that is consigned to us.”
Even though it admits the difficulties of battling fake goods, The RealReal steadfastly refutes CNBC‘s findings. The report “does not accurately represent the depth of our team’s expertise and the thoroughness of our authentication process,” the company told Refinery29. “We stand behind both our process and authenticity guarantee, and will continue to provide a safe and reliable platform for buying and consigning luxury items.”
In a recent call with investors this week, CEO Julie Wainwright emphasized that The RealReal maintains a stringent chain of verification for each item. The process goes as such: Receivers at The RealReal’s processing center review the new intake and sort items into different categories (“low-risk,” “high-risk” and so on) based on factors like brand, style, value and source. Then, some goods are sent to corresponding authenticators while “other items are authenticated by our copywriters,” she said. Wainwright emphasized that those copywriters do receive verification training and the company also employs an audit team to perform additional checks.
Most recently, a new report revealed that fake Supreme items are the world’s most searched-for counterfeit.
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