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Do you know what you are buying? 30 July 2007

“Would you be happy to buy fake goods?” asks the Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading. Two thirds of UK shoppers apparently would be according to a recent survey.

Counterfeiting has reached epidemic proportions in certain parts of the world in recent years. Shoppers do not seem to realise that counterfeiting not only damages reputable manufacturers and producers of branded goods and leads to major job losses - it is thought that 100,000 jobs per year are lost in the UK and European Union as a result of counterfeiting - but also funds terrorist and criminal activities such as people trafficking, drugs, pornography and money laundering.

It would also appear that shoppers are often unaware of the potential dangers of counterfeit goods. Many goods are of poor quality but it is not unusual for them also to be unsafe because they are not made to the correct safety standards. For example counterfeiting of two extremely well known brands of toothpaste has just come under the spotlight. Imports to the UK and the US have been found to contain toxic chemicals.

Examples of the dangers posed by other counterfeit goods include:-

• Brake shoes and linings - one batch tested took ten times as long to stop a vehicle in an emergency as the genuine product.

• Washing powder – the highly caustic ingredients caused skin burns

• Well known brands of children’s clothing – the materials used were not flameproof so a child could be engulfed in flames in seconds.

Chairman of the Office of Fair Trading Quintin Gill MHK said of the survey “I am not particularly surprised that consumers feel this way about buying counterfeit goods. I’m sure many people are tempted to buy goods when they cannot afford the real thing but these purchases could come at a much higher price than they might think. Remember if it looks too good to be true – it probably is”.

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