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Case study: Counterfeit products — the hidden danger

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They may look identical from the outside, with the same packaging and bar codes, however on closer inspection subtle and significant differences become apparent. Often with counterfeit products, the bar code and date wheel will be identical across all stock. There may be small differences on the product itself, for example instead of stating ‘Made in Australia’ the product may just feature ‘Australia’. Counterfeit goods are also most likely to be sold through markets, online and directly through individuals who are not usually associated with professional channels.

In 2006, HPM was the victim of a large counterfeit operation where thousands of double socket power points, imitating the HPM brand Excel, were discovered.

“HPM became aware of the counterfeit issue when a long standing customer brought it to our attention,” commented chief technical officer, Dennis Galvin. “He had heard of a number of faulty HPM products in the market and became suspicious.

“Upon further investigation we identified irregularities in the barcode of products on the market and inconsistencies appeared in stock levels at some stores. There was very little difference between the genuine and the counterfeit products in appearance, but the counterfeit products did not meet Australian standards and, as a result, underperformed. The only way to confirm the authenticity of a socket was to remove the outer plate. The counterfeit products featured the inscription XL777 inside the cover plate.

“The Office of Fair Trading was advised of the discovery. As a result an investigation was launched and a joint campaign to inform the general public was initiated,” stated Galvin.

According to a Fair Trading spokesperson, prosecution proceedings were commenced against six companies and four of the companies were convicted over the incident.

Today, counterfeit products are generally highly sophisticated copies, however they are manufactured with no regard for public safety. Contractors may feel they are getting a good deal purchasing products at a much lower price but if the deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Contractors are responsible for ensuring all products being used are fully certified and are liable if this is not the case. Using counterfeit products for installations is very risky and the money saved from purchasing a cheaper, counterfeit product may come at a high cost.

For more information contact HPM Legrand on 1300 369 777.

  • May 13, 2013

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