How To Spot Fake Tools
- Created on Thursday, 22 March 2012 19:30
- Written by Melissa Hill
Can you tell the difference? (Hint: it's the one on the right.)
If you’re searching for a deal on professional products, two words of caution: buyer beware. Bogus copies of popular brands litter online sales sites like eBay and Kijiji, while others are sold through fraudulent non-authorized “distributors.” Here are five things we learned about counterfeit beauty products and how to avoid them.
“The biggest issue, and I think it’s going to get worse, is that people producing these products are getting very good at imitating packages and fragrances.”
1. Buy through an authorized distributor.
This is easy to do. Simply contact the manufacturer and find out who are the authorized distributors in your area. If you’re shopping online, be aware that there’s no way to tell if what you are buying is legitimate. Many fakes are found on sites like eBay, although eBay in particular has been very co-operative with companies in pulling off suspect listings. According to a Farouk spokesperson, 40,000 listings to date have been removed on the beauty company’s behalf. It’s hard to shut down entirely, though. “We’ve seen this for about eight to 10 years now,” says Stephen Pavlick, president of DWA/Kasho Shears (Canada) and Panther Shears Ltd. “One guy gets shut down, then he sells his merchandise to someone else who turns around and tries and sell it. We’re always looking daily on eBay to shut it down and try to protect our brand and our customers.”
2. If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably a fake.
“Our shears sell for $300 to $1,200. If you see $59 for a brand new pair of Kasho shears, you have to use common sense. It’s too good to be true,” says Pavlick. You may feel that you are saving money by buying a discounted tool, but in the long run if you have a problem with the product or tool, the manufacturer will not stand behind a fake. “If a consumer gets sucked in and buys it, there’s no recourse,” says Pavlick.
Kasho has had customers call in to complain about the performance of a pair of shears and when asked for the model number, it will not even come close to one the company uses. In the case of Farouk’s CHI irons, the fakes have been known to overheat and melt, posing a fire hazard.
3. Your dollars could go to fund illegal activities—including terrorism.
Because of the relatively light penalties involved with fabricating and selling fraudulent products—if there are any imposed at all—the business is attractive to criminals. “It’s a big problem. Most people don’t realize that these products are coming from people involved in organized crime and funding terrorism overseas,” says Gerardo Ludert, director of the legal department for Moroccanoil. “It’s much bigger for us than just selling a product and taking revenue from our company. There are implications for not tackling this issue. People see it as an easy way to fund their operations, and no one is looking.”
4. It’s often hard to tell just by looking.
4. It’s often hard to tell just by looking.
“The biggest issue, and I think it’s going to get worse, is that people producing these products are getting very good at imitating packages and fragrances,” says Ludert. “If you don’t know the product very well, it may be hard to determine whether it’s legitimate. Often, you won’t know until it comes down to the performance.”
Even manufacturers are starting to have a hard time verifying a product’s legitimacy. “We’ve seen products we’re not 100 per cent sure of, and we have to send them to chemical labs to have them analyzed,” says Ludert. The imposters are getting savvier, but so are manufacturers. Farouk has created a hologram unique to their tools that is located on both the box and the tool itself, and last year Moroccanoil implemented a tracking system for every single bottle featuring a different code.
Information from the code allows the company to know whether it has come from one of its manufacturing plants or not. In addition to a visible code, each bottle also includes invisible codes that were developed in Israel. For Kasho, Pavlick says the best way a consumer can tell is through price point or cheap packaging that bears little resemblance to the company’s typical, detailed materials.
5. You can help stop it.
Report any suspected sales of counterfeit items to the manufacturer. Farouk is one of the companies that has made this even easier, allowing people to report suspected fake products directly through its website. Manufacturers take the problem very seriously, enlisting investigators to track products and scan online listings daily, and employing legal departments that are ready to take action.