/ Shopping

Can you tell when you’re buying counterfeit goods?

Fake sign

Have you fallen into the fake goods trap? More and more of us are reporting that we’ve been duped into buying a counterfeit, so how can we buy with confidence?

Last year I bought my Dad an original, signed photograph of the winning rugby world cup squad. I thought it seemed too good to be true given the £3 price tag. Sure enough, when it arrived it was a cheap photocopy on plain A4 paper.

I’m not the only one falling for a fake, judging by the latest survey from the Trading Standards Institute (TSI), which used the statistics to kick off national e-consumer week.

Over a four-week period, 19% of people surveyed by TSI claimed that the goods they ordered were fake. In my case £3 is a loss I can afford to write off, and aside from the disappointment, there’s arguably no harm done.

The dangers of buying a fake

I was lucky, compared to some of the stories I’ve been reading. Chris Allen, for example, could’ve come to real harm when she bought fake ghd hair straighteners.

Fortunately, she spotted the goods were fake because of the tatty box and checked the hologram on the genuine ghd website, which confirmed them as counterfeits. Chris took the straighteners to her local Trading Standards office because she feared they were unsafe.

She isn’t alone – 48% of respondents claimed goods they ordered never arrived. The statistics back up those released last year by the Office of Fair Trading, which say that one in 12 are conned by fake ticketing websites.

Meanwhile, security expert First Cyber Security claims it takes just ‘seconds’ to set up a fake website. The company claims criminals are also adding real security certificates that make it harder than ever to spot the real, from the fake, websites.

When is it safe to shop online?

However, the real damage isn’t to consumers but to the web’s reputation. The TSI’s report found that 63% of people fear their credit card details will be stolen online, 10% worry goods they’ve ordered simply won’t turn up while 6% fear what they’ve bought will turn out to be fake.

So should consumers be running scared from web retailers? I certainly haven’t stopped buying goods online since falling foul of a fraudster – in fact I’m currently bidding on the same auction site for a first edition book as a present for my Mum.

However, I’ve learned a valuable lesson. I mean, did I honestly think I could bag my Dad a signed picture of his sporting heroes for under a tenner? It might be a cliché but now I listen to that inner voice that warns me that if a deal sounds too good to be true…


Fake GHD’s are not safe, mine caught fire and only then after investigation did I realise it was a fake. Speaking to a GHD representative I found out that even Salons (i purchased it in a Salon) mistakenly buy and then sell on to customers fakes! Apparently there are fake GHD websites that are exactly the same to look at as the real website and everyone is falling victim to buying fakes from these sites. I purchased my new GHD from a department store, lets hope this one is the real deal!

stephanie says:
22 January 2013

Usually fake GHD’s are much cheaper than the original because it is made of substandard materials.

Fakes are often copies of expensive brands. In the case of hairdryers you would be better to buy a Which? Best Buy than an inferior, expensive and possibly copied GHD product.