Everyone loves a good deal, especially on pricey items like electronics and tech products, and these days the best bargains are usually found online. But there are two ancient proverbs that never go out of style, ‘buyer beware’ and ‘you get what you pay for’. And if anything that’s truer today than ever.
It’s no big secret that there are plenty of counterfeit products being peddled out there, and not just by street vendors. Take almost any popular or high-end product and you can find a counterfeit being sold online, and tech products are certainly no exception. You think you’re getting a great deal, but what you’re really getting is:
- Equipment with less than stellar performance and a very short service life
- Absolutely no manufacturer tech support
- Double the expense because you have to replace your new Bluetooth speaker with something that actually works.
YouTube is filled with examples of counterfeit tech products, and it’s incredible how realistic they can make these knock offs. Here’s an example featuring the Bose Soundlink Speaker.
It can happen to anyone, of course, but now it’s happening to the big retailers who you’d think would know better. Back in 2016, Apple brought a lawsuit against New York-based manufacturer Mobile Star for selling counterfeit Apple products on Amazon, specifically power cords and chargers. The electronic aspect of these products is what makes counterfeit tech so dangerous. A knock-off purse may not be a danger to anyone but the original brand’s profits, but knock-off batteries and chargers have been shown to explode or catch fire.
Shady items from third-party retailers selling on Amazon have been an issue in the past, but this time Amazon’s own retail division was the culprit. They of course immediately pointed their finger at Mobile Star and that company handed over their remaining stock to Apple. After an investigation and product testing, it was determined that about 90% of the products were counterfeit, according to documents filed in the case. Mobile Star was also guilty of selling counterfeit goods to e-commerce consumer marketplace Groupon. The complaint filed by Apple stated that the counterfeits posed a danger to buyers because safety equipment was often missing or flawed, and that “consumers relying on Amazon.com’s reputation have no reason to suspect the power products they purchased from Amazon.com are anything but genuine.”
At almost the same time that Apple filed its lawsuit, Daimler AG also sued Amazon for selling replica Mercedes wheels, and German sandal maker Birkenstock pulled all of its products off the platform because of a proliferation of cheap counterfeits which they considered a threat to their brand.
It’s probably not fair to single out Amazon to pick on, as this surely happens with other large online retailers too, they’ve just been in the spotlight because they’re the big dog on the block. And to be fair they really have taken aggressive measures to fight against counterfeiters. Their problems began when they started courting Chinese sellers, where it’s been estimated that 40% of that nation’s online marketplace is made up of counterfeit products. Over 11% of Amazon’s sellers are from China.
So what can you do to protect yourself? One of the best ways is to ask for advice from knowledgeable experts who know the products and the most reliable sources to buy them from.
And that’s where we can help. Just drop us a line or give us a call with your questions and we’ll be happy to answer them.