Despite The RealReal’s entire $300M business model hinging upon its ability to authoritatively authenticate products, a recent report alleges that its authentication process is pretty much authority-free.
Conducted by The Capitol Forum, “a Washington, D.C.-based organization that conducts in-depth investigations into potential consumer protection issues,” and detailed by Fashionista, the report found that “hourly workers with the title ‘copywriter,’ rather than professional authenticators, are performing the majority of authentication of consigned items,” and many “didn’t feel it was appropriate for them to be authenticating.”
I’m inclined to agree. According to the report, these copywriters were are all given a “5-minute presentation on what things should look like,” before being required to authenticate, write-up, and post a staggering 120 items day.
As one former copywriter tells it, “training was rushed and they put a lot of pressure on meeting our daily goals, so a lot of fake items slipped through the cracks.” In the words of another former employee, “the pay was so low and the work so grueling that everybody thought of it as just a temporary job… no one really took it that seriously because they’d be gone in a couple of months.”
While The RealReal did acknowledge that copywriters do “authenticate products that it identifies as ‘low-risk’” it denied that any of them would be tasked with looking at any higher end items, like an Hermes scarf as one former employee alleges.
And though The RealReal “stands 100% behind” their process, and also doesn’t seem to think very highly of The Capitol Forum, the story summed it up well: It’s “not a very good look for a company that promises authenticity to inspire trust in its customers and investors.”
You can read more about it at Fashionista.