You might have a customer ask you why the products you’re suggesting are so much more expensive than, say, a product from an online reseller. Or, at some point in your career in wholesale, you might be approached directly from an importer of products, wishing you to stock their very attractively priced products.
Cheaper products are, of course, always attractive. After all, who wouldn’t want to get a good deal on a product? However, as the old adage goes: some things are too good to be true!
If a price of a competitor product seems significantly lower, there might be a reason for it: this market is awash with counterfeit and non-compliant products – and these products carry real risks of harm to people and installations.
Counterfeit products (also called ‘copy’ but probably most commonly called ‘fake’) use stolen intellectual property of the registered owner. For example, someone copies the registered brand name and/or trademark of the original owner and applies it to their own product.
Non-compliant products (also called ‘sub-standard’, ‘non-conforming’ or ‘non-approved’) carry false or misleading information about their performance (very often to a recognized standard) or ability to satisfy relevant legislation (e.g. carrying the CE mark where relevant) – or don’t carry any information about their compliance at all!
The majority of counterfeit products are also non-compliant.
Sadly, the risks and consequences of selling and/or installing these products can be greatly underestimated. In fact, the consequences can be wide-ranging and include:
Although there is no ‘golden bullet’ to identify a counterfeit of non-compliant product, there are a number of basic checks that can be undertaken, which will go some way to mitigate the risk of being tricked into handling these products.
Suggest these to your customer – and keep them in mind when purchasing your own products:
You’ll likely find counterfeit and non-compliant products throughout the entire spectrum of electrical installation products.
The Electrotechnical Market Surveillance (EMS) group, led by trade association BEAMA, has been focusing on raising awareness and supporting actions by the relevant enforcement authorities in the areas of cables, lighting, circuit protection, wiring accessory and motor control products.
This article appears in each of the 12 Textbooks in the EDA Product Knowledge Programme.