A reader wrote in this morning, with a link an interesting story. (Thank you, Eric!) It seems that an individual on Reddit had listed Bosch tools on Amazon, as used, and someone claiming to be a lawyer for Bosch Tools NA had threatened them with a lawsuit.
It seems that this is not the first time something like this has happened. In the discussion thread on Reddit, someone linked to a story about a similar occurrence that took place 4-1/2 years ago. That older incident was different, as the seller acknowledged that they had listed the Bosch product as new.
Sidestepping for a moment, Bosch Tools has “Certified Online Partners” and a few years ago they added a banner to Amazon product listings to help promote these sellers.
Bosch’s notice says that they do not guarantee the quality or authenticity of products purchased from non-authorized resellers on Amazon.
That’s one way they sought to protect the interests of their dealer network, and it appears this is another.
The letter that the Redditor says was sent to them specifically complains about the seller’s “improper and tortious sale and commercial distribution of Bosch products.” Later in the letter, it say:
Unauthorized Resellers who induce Authorized Bosch Tools Distributors to sell Bosch Tools products to them for resale on the internet tortuously interfere with the Distributor Agreement.
As Bosch Tools has no record that it has authorized your business to resell its products on the internet, Bosch Tools demands that you discontinue your tortious conduct…
Looking at various listings on Amazon, there are quite a few tools that are listed by 3rd party sellers as “Used – Like New” with condition descriptions such as “Factory Sealed, Never Opened or Used.”
The Redditor says:
The thing that is bothering me is that I have these listed in used condition. Doesn’t the first sale doctrine allow me to sell these?
Over on Ebay, there are plenty of “Brand New” Bosch tools that are being sold by individual/3rd party sellers. It’s unknown as to whether Bosch is only seeking to stymie reselling on Amazon, or if the same warnings are being sent on other platforms as well.
Looking at Bosch’s side of things, I can understand why they’re trying to control who sells Bosch tools as new. Many resellers will buy promo-priced tools from authorized dealers and then flood them back into online marketplaces at inflated pricing. This typically hurts authorized dealers and users alike, and only really benefits those looking to turn a quick profit.
A second letter sent to the Redditor says:
Must we sue in relation to our previous correspondence to you?
Bosch has and will continue to file lawsuits against unauthorized resellers to protect the Bosch Authorized Reseller Network and its Brands.
We don’t know how many Bosch tools the Redditor is trying to sell. They did buy them from an authorized retailer, but their intent was unclear. Sometimes people buy tools specifically to resell, other times there are “buy this, get that” bonus combos that lead to unwanted tools or accessories.
Going only by the language in Bosch’s letters, it seems that they’re looking to protect the interests of their retailers.
A long time ago, I posted about a Bosch tool deal at one particular retailer after seeing it in their emailed newsletter, and this led to much drama because not all dealers were able to offer similar promos. Because of this, and one or two instances since then, I can definitely see this action by Bosch’s lawyers as a way to help ensure only authorized dealers are allowed to sell Bosch tools as new.
There are two ways to look at this situation.
A: Bosch is trying to stymie reselling and arbitrage where individuals buy from an authorized dealer and sell on online marketplaces such as Amazon.
B: Bosch lawyers accidentally sent their standard letters to someone who is not engaging in such practices.
I considered that perhaps Bosch’s lawyers sent the notice to this tool seller by mistake, or perhaps they’ve been a little too aggressive in their tactics.
This is what it says in seller’s Reddit post:
I’m selling a couple Bosch tools online and received a letter from a law firm stating I needed to remove these listings because I am not an authorized Bosch distributor. They have threatened to sue me if I do not comply.
Items were purchased from an authorized retailer (have receipts) so I know they are not counterfeit.
The seller also says:
I am not attempting to sell these as new.
The thread in question is in r/Flipping, a subReddit forum described as:
A place to discuss tactics and success stories of buying things for a low price and selling them for a higher one.
However this has no implication, as the Redditor’s user account was created one month ago and they have no other posts in r/Flipping. In other words, we don’t know if they are a reseller. There’s no indication that they “induced Authorized Bosch Tools Distributors to sell Bosch Tools products to them for resale on the internet.”
The consensus in the Reddit thread is that these are scare tactics, but Bosch’s lawyer also points to a prior incident where they did take an unauthorized seller to court over trademark infringement. I vaguely remember the seller too – they were a highly visible 3rd party seller on Amazon.
The Redditor says:
For Amazon, you cannot list products as new if they do not come from an authorized wholesaler/distributor. You likely will need to be an approved authorized distributor by the brand you are selling too.
You absolutely cannot buy an item from a retail store and list it as new on Amazon. Warranties are generally not valid if the product is not purchased from an authorized reseller. If the item you are selling does not have a warranty, than it is definitely not new.
I have the one Bosch product I have listed in used condition because I am not an authorized reseller for this brand….but I do not believe this prevents me from selling the item I have in used condition.
They seem familiar with reselling rules, and tried to abide by them.
My guess is that there has been a trend of resellers buying and reselling Bosch tools in “used: like-new” condition, and perhaps this particular seller was undeservingly red-flagged. It seems a bit harsh to be threatened with a lawsuit for selling “one Bosch product” in “used” condition, but we also don’t know closely their listing or seller profile fits potential patterns established by other resellers Bosch has been working to block.
On one hand, Bosch is threatening this Redditor over a used product listing, but on the other hand they’re trying to clean up Amazon marketplace reseller listings without making case by case exceptions.
Maybe this type of strict enforcement is why we haven’t heard of any tool scam stores involving Bosch tools yet?
This is an interesting occurrence, although we simply don’t know enough to take sides. Personally, I’m not a fan of aggressive reselling practices, but I’m also not a fan of scare tactics.
It is also important to note that Bosch is not the only brand seeking to block certain types of online marketplace listings. For instance, I have heard of Snap-on asking ebay to remove certain product listings. In this case, however, the demand was made to the seller directly.
Note: I am not a lawyer.