As part of its successful media campaign highlighting the risk of counterfeit products and the need to use reputable retailers, Electrical Safety First released a new report, A Shocking Rip-Off: The True Cost of Counterfeit Products.
The report found that a million people consciously purchased fake products in the last year, but it warns that the true figure is likely to be significantly higher, as many others will have unknowingly bought counterfeit goods.
The market for counterfeit goods in the UK is conservatively estimated at £1.3 billion per year, with approximately £900 million of this being used to fund organised crime. But the report highlights not just the financial cost of fakes but also the physical risks they pose to consumers. And it’s a growing problem that has expanded through online retail outlets and social media.
“Counterfeiters have become increasingly sophisticated”, explains Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First. “With some, it is now only really possible to confirm if the product is ‘real’ or fake by checking the components inside – which is obviously not a viable option for most consumers, or something we would recommend them undertaking! We found that the key reason counterfeits are sold so cheaply is that there are ‘shortcuts’, leaving out or using substandard and fake electronic components which can significantly impact on the product’s safety, as well as its functionality.”
However, as well as fake electrical products for consumers, the Charity’s investigation found strong anecdotal evidence of high levels of fake plugs and fuses infiltrating the market – basic electrical accessories we take for granted and use in a multitude of ways.
Electrical Safety First’s report, which was launched at its latest product safety conference, includes a number of recommendations for manufacturers and retailers, government and the general public. These include calls for: increased collaboration between manufacturers, retailers and enforcement agencies to share intelligence and expertise; government to ensure enforcement agencies and local government have the resources to deal with the problem; and consumers to be made aware of the real dangers of counterfeit electrics and how to spot them.
“A fake designer handbag might not last as long or look as good as the real item but it won’t kill you. Fake electrical products can cause fires and kill and maim”, adds Phil. “They hurt legitimate businesses, put consumers at risk and help fund criminal activity. The bottom line is, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t put your family or your home at risk by buying counterfeits.”