The world wide web of ‘original fakes’

A fake will have a great price, but no value
Some days back a newspaper started running ads for the iPhone, strangely spelt as iFone. The phone had the same specs as the iPhone from Apple, and the real price was slashed to show the discounted price. The images used were also from Apple’s press section. While the Advertising Standards Council of India can take a call on this and other such misleading ads, it is for the consumers to be careful about not falling prey to the “original fakes”.

The fakes are everywhere. Take a walk down inside Palika Bazaar in Delhi and you will see ‘Kingston’ and ‘Transcend’ USB pen drives that claim to store up to 1TB of data. When you plug them into the demo laptops in the shops, they will show the promised storage capacity, but once you bring them home they won’t even work. Considering where you bought it from, you can forget about a replacement. As expected, the business of fakes goes far beyond pen drives, beyond even Nokia or BlackBerry look-alikes.

While there is no arguing that online sales is the commerce of the future, third-party companies outsourced to run operations and discount websites that buy from anyone and everyone will only leave you with more such fake products.

In many cases, parts are harvested from electronic waste sent for recycling. For instance, workers dismantle motherboards, recover components and sand the parts to remove markings. They then imprint forged dates, brand names and product codes.
The parts make their way to electronics marketplaces and other intermediaries before being distributed globally by suppliers. The fake manufacturers are smart enough to remove all original identification and screen print new names, make new boxes and send you a shipment that you will pay for happy at the great price that you got, but not realising that there is no value in your purchase.

So, before you buy a RAM or processor, or even a hard disk, from your neighbourhood computer guy always check his source. It is better to ensure that the equipment is in the original packing and with the bill.

Just remember, everyone from Cisco to HP is affected, and the fakes are only getting better with time. So make sure that your source is genuine and the price what it should be.

How to spot a FAKE

*The price is too good
*Products from online websites where you can’t see the gadget till it is delivered to your home
*Check holograms and also lookup the manufacturer website for identity information
*Make sure the documentation is in English and has the same font across the manual with absolutely no spelling mistakes
*If you can, check the serial number on the validation page of the manufacturer. Quite a lot of manufacturers allow you to do this. While it is possible that the serial number has been re-used by the counterfeiter, this is one more step to avoid falling into the trap

The above article appeared in the Indian Express, on Sunday April 11, 2010