According to the latest statistics 1 in 3 UK residents have mistakenly purchased a counterfeit product online and 1 in 7 have suffered damage or loss as a result of fake electrical goods.
There is growing evidence of the increased circulation of counterfeit electrical equipment and the safety problems associated with them. With the popularity of the internet more and more people choose to shop online. Counterfeit goods are easily available across the internet, online market places, dedicated websites and social media.
How you can stay safe
Periodically PAT Test your equipment to prevent injuries in your office or in your facilities. PAT Testing is one of the most reliable ways from the many different ways to identify counterfeit products.
How to spot fake electrical products online
1. If the price is (almost) right, it’s probably fake
Some counterfeits are for sale just below the recommended retail value, hoodwinking shoppers that are too savvy to fall for the ‘too good to be true’ deals. Make sure you do your homework if you decide to buy products below high street retail prices.
2. Don’t just take the seller’s word for it – or the reviewer’s!
Beware of a product with solely glowing reviews, especially if the reviewers aren’t verified. Some sites cross-reference user reviews with their buyer database and label those people as “verified purchasers”.
3. Know where you’re buying from
Make sure you know where the supplier is based, a ‘co.uk’ URL doesn’t guarantee the website is UK based. If there is no address supplied, or there is just a PO Box, be wary; many counterfeit electrical goods are manufactured overseas, where they will not be safety tested and are produced as quickly and cheaply as possible.
4. Beware of words qualifying an item’s authenticity
If the seller claims the product is ‘genuine’, ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ double check the source. Most reputable retailers don’t need to sell their products like this.
5. Spot the lock to pay safely
Look for websites that allow you to pay safely – these have a padlock symbol at the bottom of the screen when you are filling in your payment details. If you can’t see it, do not enter your payment details.
What to do if you’ve bought a counterfeit item
If you have proof your item is counterfeit, contact the supplier immediately stating your case and demand an explanation; if there has been a mistake made, now is their chance to clarify.
You have the legal right to a refund if you’ve bought something that’s fake or counterfeit. Despite this, it can be difficult if you’ve made the purchase from an unknown source so be sure to pay with Paypal or your credit card, as your purchase will likely be insured.
If you are not able to settle the dispute yourself, contact the retailer that manages the marketplace (such as Amazon) as they are able to intervene on your behalf. If they are unable to help, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 for advice.
If you can, leave feedback to warn future shoppers about the situation and potential problems, but do stick to the facts and make sure any claims are accurate.
If you know your product is counterfeit, report it to Trading Standards so that they can take action against the seller; selling counterfeit products is illegal and puts people’s lives at risk.
For more tips on spotting counterfeit goods, check out our Safe Shopper’s Guide.