Tag: verdict

Galton Voysey & DealDash.com – A Conflict of Interest

I first learned about Galton Voysey from a recent Consumerist article claiming they are simply producing premium or luxury products primarily for use on DealDash.com.

Barrel Shack. Verdict, Aava, Schultz, Kamikoto are some notable Galton Voysey brands featured on DealDash.com
Barrel Shack. Verdict, Aava, Schultz, Kamikoto are some notable Galton Voysey brands featured on DealDash

The article goes on to describe a lawsuit accusing DealDash.com of the following:

  • The lawsuit claims that expensive, supposedly high-end products, produced by Galton Voysey, auctioned off on DealDash are not what they seem.
  • Several of these brands, such as Bolvaint, Kamikoto, Aava, appear to only be available on DealDash, the brand’s website or on Amazon directly from the brand.
  • Most of the brands’ websites are registered in the same way to hide their actual ownership.
  • Trademark applications for these brands lists DealDash founder William Wolfram as the chairman of Galton Voysey, the company registering the marks.
  • The plaintiff alleges this is all a ruse to sell auction bids for overpriced products supplied by DealDash’s founder

Galton Voysey Background

According to their website:

Galton Voysey is a platform for building, buying and developing consumer product brands. We are home to 28 iconic brands that we have developed or acquired, and extend our professional expertise to a portfolio of global brands. We believe it makes more sense to test early to validate ideas that work and ones that don’t. This gives our operation and design teams a way to experiment with something tangible, gain experience in the process and reapply their learnings in the next iteration. With a proven network of over 140 factories, Galton Voysey builds brands across a broad range of consumer, lifestyle and home goods segments across Europe, US and the world.

Sounds like a normal private company developing and selling private label goods online leveraging manufacturing resources in the Asia-Pacific region with a startup mentality.

However, what is interesting is the background and the involvement of William Wolfram, the owner of DealDash.com and principle investor of Galton Voysey according to InsideRetail Hong Kong:

As it marks its third anniversary, Hong Kong-headquartered online luxury goods retailer Galton Voysey is recruiting more staff and expanding its presence in Mainland China.

Galton Voysey was founded by 28-year-old French woman Marine Aubrée Antikainen and its biggest investor is William Wolfram, 24, who believed the biggest brands of the next 50 years have not yet been built…

…Galton Voysey believes it is disrupting the global luxury goods market with new and fresh thinking, in many cases helping brands go direct from factory to consumer through their own brand websites.

According to LinkedIn, Marine Antikainen is listed as a co-founder while William Wolfram is both chairman and investor of Galton Voysey.  Oddly enough, William Wolfram is not listed on the website and the majority of Galton’s partners are mostly law firms.  These are the other companies listed as partners

  • The Loft Studio, – The Loft Studio does not cite Galton Voysey or its brands as clients.  However, it is likely this company produced the photos seem on the company website and for its brands under NDAs.
  • Vistra – Vistra is a company providing “tailored trust, fiduciary, fund and corporate services”. It is likely they are supporting Galton with various offshore financing and related services.
  • A partner with a magnifying glass and letters “AI” as its brand logo.

The rest of the website is somewhat vague on their actual work aside from a sizzle reel about the office culture and a press release announcing the company’s 3rd year of existence.

Galton Voysey Brands & DealDash.com

According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, Galton Voysey filed trademarks for its brands: Schultz, Wilson & Miller, Verdict, New Haven, The Barrel Shack, Kamikoto in 2016.  However, Galton brands such as Bolvaint was trademarked by IPIF Limited, which was formed last July, while brands such as Ashlynn Avenue, Aava, Cate & Chloe, Bardenshire do not appear to have any trademarks.

According to TINA.org:

DealDash.com positively describes and endorses products that are auctioned on its
website. Some of these products are sold by companies that DealDash founder William Wolfram is the Chairman of, a fact that is not disclosed to consumers in any DealDash marketing materials. For example, during any 24-hour period, at least 40% of DealDash auctions are for products made and sold by:

Galton Voysey brands Schultz, Kamikoto, The Barrel Shack

Galton Voysey Brands Verdict and New Haven

Galton Voysey brads Bolvaint, Ashlynn Avenue, Wilson & Miller

There is a clear conflict of interest when a major investor and chairman of Galton Voysey is also selling the company’s brands on DealDash.com, which is also owned by the same person.  It is even more questionable when this strong connection is not disclosed to the public.

The Brands Examined

While the brands appear to have quality products when examined at face value, things are not what they seem.  Galton Voysey’s marketing team and growth hackers have done a great job promoting these brands with a combination of paid Facebook likes, reviews by vloggers and blogs that are either paid or provided based on free products, compelling brand videos and standard SEO.

Although these brands appear to private label brands one would expect to find online or at a premium retailer such as Macy’s, the pricing strategy for the various products suggests they should be treated as premium or luxury items, despite the relatively new brand development and limited brand history.   What is even more interesting is that these brand have products that have pages of positive reviews without really describing much about the products.

I’ve had three major Galton Voysey brands, Kamikoto, Bolvaint, and The Barrel Shack, submitted to FakeSpot.com, which scans for unreliable or fake product reviews.  Below are the general results:

http://fakespot.com/company/kamikoto

Fakespot has analyzed 6 products and 267 reviews for Kamikoto products.The Fakespot algorithm considers 60.0% of those reviews to be unreliable.

The Fakespot grade is based on reviews of products listed on Amazon with Kamikoto as the company name.

http://fakespot.com/company/bolvaint

Fakespot has analyzed 5 products and 21 reviews forBolvaint products.The Fakespot algorithm considers 20.0% of those reviews to be unreliable.

The Fakespot grade is based on reviews of products listed on Amazon with Bolvaint as the company name.

http://fakespot.com/company/the-barrel-shack

Fakespot has analyzed 8 products and 148 reviews forThe Barrel Shack products.The Fakespot algorithm considers 60.0%of those reviews to be unreliable.

The Fakespot grade is based on reviews of products listed on Amazon with The Barrel Shack as the company name.

When reviewing the websites, it appears nearly all the Galton Voysey brands have the same website layout from Shopify, and relatively limited contact information.  The Bolvaint website claims to have an office that is occupied by Patek Phillipe, while the Kamikoto brand doesn’t have a Japanese website, its return address is in a residential area, the brand site is hosted in the USA, and apparently the knives are made in China (which is unheard of for artisanal Japanese knives).  The lack of real information behind the brands and brand history is a recurring pattern among the Galton Voysey brands.

Conclusion

While Galton Voysey initially appears to be a private company developing and selling private label brands, it is merely a tool for DealDash.com to promote overpriced products to unsuspecting customers.  The fact the William Wolfram is involved in both companies without full disclosure, the limited information available for Galton Voysey, the strange trademarking process for the Galton brands, and irregular product reviews make the entire arrangement extremely questionable if not an outright scam.

Despite some glowing reviews by unsuspecting vloggers and blogs, none of the brands promoted by Galton Voysey can actually justify their prices due to their lack of history, actual reputation, or product quality in certain cases.  I would have no issues with their brands if they were actually being produced and sold as private label brands to leading retailers as implied in their mission statement and official interviews.  However, the reality is that they are primarily pushed through DealDash.com at inflated prices and placed on Amazon.com and their own brand websites to create the perception they are actual products.

For more details on the lawsuit – see https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/dealdash.pdf

For latest updates from TruthinAdvertising.org – see https://www.truthinadvertising.org/dealdash-status-updates/