Counterfeit goods cost consumers and legitimate manufacturers hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Yes, that is billions with a “B.” Big deal right? You buy a knock off Coach purse or Prada hand bag for $30 and no one is the wiser. What does it matter?
Well, aside from ethical considerations, there is a lot at stake with counterfeit goods. You need to consider the quality of the item, who is making the item (child labor anyone?), where the money goes (organized crime or terrorists?), and most importantly, the safety of the item. Many counterfeit electronics and batteries have been known to explode or catch fire, which can be particularly dangerous. Counterfeit pills, medicines, and toothpaste can also be extremely harmful.
Here is a guide to help you avoid unknowingly purchasing counterfeit goods:
Buy from a reputable source:
Very few counterfeit products reach the shelves of well established retailers. Buying from established retail outlets also provides something counterfeiters never will – a money back guarantee! Another thing to consider – many designer labels only sell their items through their own stores and outlets, and they will never sell via another store or vendor – especially not on a street corner!
Use caution when buying on-line:
Be sure to check the reputation of the store you are purchasing the item from. Another option is to look for the Buy Safe logo, which can provide guaranteed on-line transactions. The Better Business Bureau is not always the best logo to look for, because the BBB does not actually guarantee anything. Be particularly careful when buying on-line through a 3rd party vendor such as on an auction based website. These virtual stores are rarely guaranteed and you may find it impossible to get your money back.
This video gives more information about how to protect yourself when making on-line purchases: (please click through if you are reading via a feedreader)
Inspect the item:
Does the item look like it is good quality? Are the words and logos on the labels correctly spelled or sewn on properly? Are the zippers and stitching high quality? Is the item actually leather, or does it appear or feel fake? These can be tell-tale signs that the item is counterfeit.
Is the deal too good to be true?
C’mon, do you really think someone will sell you a $2,000 handbag for $40? Of course they wouldn’t! But what if they offer it to you for $200? Then you know one of two things – it is either A) stolen, or B) fake. Either way, it is not a good purchase for you! Be careful when judging by price alone. Price is not always an indicator of fake goods as criminals sometimes charge high dollar amounts for very good counterfeits.
Are you being pressured or persuaded into buying?
If so, walk away. People who sell the genuine items will almost always be able to sell them, and are under little pressure to make a sale. They will almost never force an item on you or pressure you to buy it. If there is a pressure tactic involved, chances are the item is stolen or a fake.
Be safe when purchasing products. Following these tips will not guarantee every item you purchase is 100% authentic, but it will greatly enhance the odds against being swindled. Above all, exercise caution and good judgment and hopefully you can avoid spending your hard earned dollars on… junk.