E-commerce sites Shopee and Lazada have removed dozens of listings selling unauthorised Microsoft software on their platform for as low as $10.
The listings, which were removed by yesterday, offered so-called "lifetime subscriptions" with product keys at prices lower than those of official retailers.
The Straits Times understands that the product keys peddled by these online sellers were copies for the education sector and other corporate subscriptions.
On its official website, Microsoft offers a personal subscription for its Microsoft 365 software pack for $108 a year. This includes popular programs like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
A Microsoft spokesman told ST last Thursday that it neither sells "lifetime" subscriptions nor product keys by themselves.
"Microsoft does not authorise any platform to sell counterfeit or infringing Microsoft software. We work closely with the platforms to try to protect customers from unwittingly acquiring counterfeit or unlicensed software, and participate in their marketplace monitoring," said the spokesman.
But there were also cases which were likely to be e-commerce scams as some customers said they did not receive their product keys despite their attempts to contact the sellers.
Both Lazada and Shopee have procedures to resolve the failure of retailers to deliver on goods through refunds. The two sites also insisted they have a robust system to remove counterfeit products.
When ST shared with Shopee screenshots of the listings before they were removed, a spokesman said its listing team conducts regular checks to deal with unauthorised and counterfeit products.
"Counterfeit products breach our platform's regulations and we encourage all users looking to purchase branded products to do so from Shopee's official brand stores, such as the Microsoft Authorised Official Store via Shopee Mall, and from other authorised sellers on our platform," said the spokesman.
Lazada has a "zero-tolerance" policy on counterfeit and unauthorised items and works closely with its partners to protect the intellectual property of brands, said its spokesman.
"Sellers who infringe our marketplace regulations face escalating penalties, including account suspension or termination.
"We have promptly removed the suspect listings and terminated the errant sellers' accounts," he added.
This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.