From dodgy designer bags to shady sunglasses, counterfeiters are turning away from market stalls to online auction sites to sell their phony products. Would you be able to spot a fake product online?
According to the 2012/13 Intellectual Property Office Annual Report, around seven million people visit sites offering illegal content in the UK each and every month.
One of my friends has a beautiful Mulberry bag. It has the bold gold clasp, the plaited handle and the signature satchel style. The only problem; it’s a fake. She also admitted to me that the zipper handle on her last fake Mulberry bag had fallen off after just over a year.
The darker side to fakery
There is a darker side to fake goods as well, particularly in relation to fake electrical products. Products that have been purchased directly from non-EU manufacturers often bypass the normal safety checks with a UK wholesaler, and some electrical products could cause a fire or electrocution.
Apple recently began a worldwide programme to replace third party and counterfeit USB chargers due to ‘safety issues’. Apple says it will replace third-party chargers for an official one for $10 or the equivalent. This follows news that a Chinese woman was electrocuted and killed by a non-Apple charger.
Finding out the fakes
Fakes are increasingly being sold online, either through impressive looking online ‘shops’ selling products directly at discounted prices – or advertised through social media or auction sites. They can be difficult to spot as well – as our gallery shows.
One easy way to spot a fake is that they’re cheaper than you’d expect them do. However, the tricky bit is that getting a deal below the retail price is the very nature of an auction site! There are still a number of tips for spotting fake goods online – such as always looking at the product and seller’s feedback on auction sites.
Which? Conversation contributor Ron told us about his fake Sennheiser headphones:
‘I complained to Amazon customer services who advised me to contact the seller direct. I did and had my money reimbursed after returning the product. The seller was new to Amazon market and by this stage had accumulated a number of complaints. He is no longer listed on Amazon market.’
If you’ve fallen foul of fakery, you should report it directly to the seller as well as reporting it to Trading Standards.
Have you bought a fake product, deliberately or accidentally? Did you try to return it and what happened when you did? Is there anything you would buy a fake of – and what would you definitely avoid?