How can I spot a fake?
The good news is, online sites like eBay are cracking down on the sale of counterfeits and have begun to publish advice on how to spot counterfeit products. One of the first warning signs should be the price – if it’s significantly lower than usual, that’s a huge red flag. Is the word “replacement” used in the description or title it can highlight a non-genuine product too.
Appearance is another factor to consider, although it’s not always obvious. The fake branded phone chargers we destroyed, for example, looked identical to the originals from the outside, but once we looked inside it was clear they had been manufactured using inferior materials. Check the packaging, too, and trust your gut – sometimes it just doesn’t look right, or arrives in a non-branded or suspicious looking bag.
Common sense is also key. Realistically, why would a seller on an online marketplace have access to large quantities of a branded genuine product? Take a look at the seller’s reviews as well as their other products to see if they could be a genuine reseller, and be wary of long lead-times, for example if they’re dispatching from China.
Counterfeit phone chargers – the warning signs
Comparison is another good way to spot a fake. When we looked closely at our counterfeit phone chargers, we noticed the finish on the plug pins on genuine chargers was matt and uniform, whereas the counterfeit chargers had a glossy finish and the pins were far more angular.
The position of the USB sockets was often found to be upside down when compared to the real product, and while the genuine chargers weighed more than 40 grams, the imitations we tested always weighed less. Not only that, but the printed text on the faceplate was a darker shade on the sub-standard chargers, and the casing on most of the counterfeit chargers wasn’t flame retardant.
What happens to seized counterfeit products?
Once seized, electrical products are permanently removed from circulation and processed in electrical waste recycling plants. We try to recover any materials that are salvageable back into the manufacturing chain. Clothing, cosmetics and toys are often shredded and incinerated, we have a zero to landfill policy.
At the end of the day, while buying imitation goods may seem cheaper in the short-term, it works out far more expensive in the long-run. Counterfeits often get stopped by customs, which means the customer ends up empty-handed. It’s well worth checking all products are legitimate before you part with your hard-earned cash.