In the past, you might have heard news reports on fake products. They could probably be luxury goods like Rolex watches and some others in that category. Nowadays, even daily use products are on the list of fake products.
We hear of poisoned drugs, toxic toothpaste, plastic rice, poisonous lipsticks, defective computer power packs and inactive dry cell accumulators. The list is open-ended
Fake products could look very much like the original in every way. In most cases, when a product is counterfeited, the counterfeiter tries to make it look very much like the original in every way.
He may use genuine packaging for the fake product. He may even price it in line with the original product.
The dangers of purchasing fake products are innumerable. However, there are some general precautions you can take to avoid buying counterfeit products, the best form of precaution is to be on the alert and to learn how to spot fake products yourself.
Here are 9 ways to do that.
1. Pay attention to the products you buy
It is most likely that you go for the same brand of products over and over again. That is if you are a brand loyalist meaning that you find your desired quality in the product and are likely to go for it again.
You should pay utmost attention to the product you wish to buy. At least you have something to compare it to. If you want to buy in a store, take along the old product or write out its specifications and compare with the one you want to buy.
But if you are going for a brand that you don’t frequently patronize, compare it with the same product in other stores. You should also compare different brands.
If a particular product shows remarkable deviation from others in the same category, then there is a chance it might be fake.
2. Examine the packaging carefully
Substandard packaging usually means the product is faked. Every genuine product is given standard packaging and every reputable business would take utmost care to ensure their products are properly packaged.
Moreover, counterfeiters could be careless to leave out important details or could make silly mistakes.
Watch out for details like spelling and typographical errors, grammatical errors, manufacturers contact information, a match between the packaging and the product, safety certification, barcodes, trademark, patents and recycling symbols.
Counterfeiters often leave out most of these important details. Where some of this salient information is left out or where information on the packaging is different from what you find on the product itself, the danger of counterfeiting is imminent.
3. Be wary of sales deals that are too promising
If an adulterator wants you to buy his product, he will give you deals that are mindboggling and irresistible. Although not all fake products would be quoted at lower prices than their genuine counterparts, one of the signs to watch out for is incredible bargains that may be unrealistic.
For example, you need to ask yourself how someone can sell a brand new N250,000 equipment for just N50,000 or selling two of the same product for the price of one. Be wary.
4. Examine the country of manufacture
Insist that your product is imported from or produced in specific countries. For example, most counterfeited products are produced in China. If you have a laptop brand which is originally manufactured in Malaysia, the next time you buy the same brand, don’t buy ‘made in China’ version.
It is very likely to be faked. Many counterfeiters also remove the ‘made in China’ label or even leave out the country of manufacture outrightly. So, if you find it difficult to determine the country of manufacture on your product, the possibility of counterfeiting is high.
5. Check the manufacturer’s website
One of the best ways to identify a fake product is to check for instructions on the manufacturer’s website. Manufacturers are also aware that some of their products are being counterfeited. They usually put information on their website to help customers identify and avoid buying the fake of their products.
6. Examine safety certification labels or marks on the product
Some products, especially electrical products could pose a serious safety risk. Such products would normally come with one or more safety certifications if they are made by genuine manufacturers.
Any such product without a valid safety certification is most likely a fake. In the U.S., the UL (Underwriters Laboratory) label is the most common while the CE marking is required on electrical products in Europe. Other products also have one certification/code or the other to assure of their genuineness.
Familiarize yourself with the requisite safety certifications for products in your region as counterfeiters will often include unreal certification marks on their products. Where certification mark is present on the packaging but not on the product itself, the chance is that the product is fake.
For some products, you can also check for safety certifications online.
7. Buy from approved product distributors
If you want to buy a genuine product, try as much as possible to buy from approved distributors of the product. Identify approved distributors or those noted for quality. You are guaranteed that you are buying the genuine product.
Buy from a recognized retail outlet to avoid buying fake. You can even ask for product demonstration and don’t forget your warranty. It is usually an insurance to protect you from counterfeiting. Don’t buy on the street side.
8. Be wary of products that look fragile or that are defective
Every quality made product is well tested for quality by the producer. For counterfeit products, quality control is often absent. Such products would be easy to spot among others that are genuine. You can spot a counterfeit by merely looking at the quality of work done on it.
If a product is defective in any way either material or immaterial, beware. Genuine products will not usually come with defective parts.
9. Verify that necessary supplementary materials are included with the product
Fake products often don’t include materials like product user’s manual, warranty card and product registration card. Some even exclude spares that normally come with original products.
For example, if your packaging shows “Comes with an extra battery” but no extra battery is found in it actually or it contains a battery from a different manufacturer, then the chance is the product is faked.
The few points above are just to guide you on how to spot faked products and to avoid buying them. Suffice me to add that, some clever counterfeiters pay a lot of attention to detail and tries very hard to circumvent whatever control is there to help customers expose them.
Summarily, the best form of precaution is to be on the alert, get familiar with the product, and to learn how to spot fake products yourself.