Buy where you know bags are checked
Check out trusted sellers of pre-loved designer handbags. These are well established and trusted businesses, where you know you'll only ever buy the real thing. Another great place is the Facebook selling pages, where admin and members keep an eye out and shoot down any post that might list a fake.
Avoid sites where fakes are prolific
Gumtree, Shpok and local selling sites may well offer the odd genuine designer bag at a bargain price but they are teeming with fakes and if you are not confident (yet) in judging whether you are buying the genuine article or not, you're much better finding another place to buy. Ideally the ones stated above or, at the very least, eBay, which is actually better than it's reputation.
Familiarise yourself with the brand
I'm no expert but by looking at as many Mulberry bags as I could, I now can spot at least the most obvious fakes. If you are after a specific model, find out which leathers and finishes it was produced in. A great resource for this is the Purseforum, where you can find threads for most handbag models with photos of their various finishes. As I said previously, this forum is well worth signing up for, as it will provide you with a wealth of information and the opportunity to ask other members who live and breathe that brand.
Another great place to look at lots of different models are the Facebook selling pages I mentioned above. Firstly, you will be able to have a gander at many different models and secondly, you can reach out to other members for a second opinion. Do check the pinned posts though, as some pages do not welcome authentication requests. I would also always advice to getting the bag authenticated professionally once you have received it. Check out my post on how to do that.
eBay? Check out the Seller
If you are considering a bag listed on eBay, have a look at the seller's profile. What does their feedback look like? Somebody with a low feedback score isn't necessarily bad but negative feedback should ring alarm bells. Have they sold much before? And if so what? If it's a mixture of clothing, accessories and the odd bag, you have hopefully found somebody who is weeding out their wardrobe. If it's the same kind of bag again and again you'd do well to stay clear; I mean: how likely is it that somebody has one unwanted designer bag after the other? Also worth looking out for: a new profile, where all their positive feedback was gained by just buying or selling items that are worth pennies only.
Always pay by Paypal "Goods and Services"
That way you are protected, should your purchase turn out to be a fake - or possibly not even turn up. Raising a claim is pretty straight forward and Paypal take their buyers' protection seriously.
Have your bag authenticated
If you are looking at a bag that is listed on eBay you can ask the Purseforum to authenticate it for you before you purchase. However, this can take a day or two and if time is ticking you may well not have enough time. You can also contact a paid service but, again, you might be up against it time-wise.
What I would do:
- Try and judge for yourself whether the bag looks good to you. Compare it to the pictures you find at the Purseforum and other resources stated above.
- If you think it's ok, buy it and make sure you pay by Paypal "Goods and Services".
- As soon as the bag arrives, take pictures and send them off to an authentication service.
If the bag is deemed to be a fake, open a Paypal "significantly not as described" (SNAD) case. This is really straightforward and Paypal will guide you through that. Do give them a call if you need any extra help or advise, they are really helpful. They will explain whether you have to return the item or destroy it and latest when delivery is confirmed (make sure you post accordingly) will refund you. Learn from the experience and move on.
Hope you found this helpful - do share your experience!