Counterfeit electrical products can cause injury, fire – and KILL!

BEAMA executive chairman Dave Dossett explains why electrical contractors and engineers must play their part and be vigilant.

The responsibility for ensuring only genuine quality electrical products are used lies with all those specifying, purchasing and installing electrical equipment.Over 10% of world trade is in counterfeit products – and this is true for electrical equipment, amounting to 2.4 billion Euros (OECD estimate). Annually, around £30 million worth of electrical counterfeits enters the UK market and 90% are made in China – mostly brand name counterfeits/design copies.Counterfeiters aim to dupe the purchaser into believing they are buying safe,high quality products made by well-known, reputable companies. But, fakes never comply with British or European safety legislation and the inferior quality of counterfeit products seized presents the danger of electrocution, explosion or fire when installed and used.

Additionally, counterfeits do untold damage to reputation – and business success – of reputable companies.Since 2000, BEAMA’s Electric Dragon Campaign has resulted in over 12 million counterfeit products being seized and destroyed, plus many moulds and packaging items.Plugs, sockets and switches, circuit protection equipment (eg circuit breakers), fuses and safety critical devices like RCDs have been seized and destroyed.Raids have targeted Chinese counterfeit production sites and markets in the Middle East, Africa, and UK.

Recently, raids of two factories in China resulted in 500,000 fake MCBs and wiring accessories being seized. A distributor in Dubai saw 300,000+ counterfeit electrical products confiscated from his warehouse, while 60,000 consumer units and MCBs were taken from an East African distributor.

Such seizures result from passing information regarding suspects to local authorities in the countries concerned.Monitoring B2B unauthorised trading websites and formal requests for removal of infringing material has seen 1,000 pages of counterfeit product ads being identified and removed from the web.

Communicating the message

Two ‘Counterfeit Kills’ DVDs illustrate the scale – and danger – of counterfeits, while presentations to contractors, wholesalers, installers, local authorities,trading standards officers etc highlight the potential threats counterfeit electrical products pose.Showing their commitment to refuse trading in counterfeit/non-compliant products 13 UK organisations signed a cross-industry Charter to: ‘Fight together against the ‘trade’ in counterfeit electrical products and the proliferation of products not complying with standards.’Continuously raising awareness of counterfeit electrical products is essential. As part of an information pack, 11,000 ‘Counterfeit Kills’ fact sheets have been distributed to electrical contractors nationwide, urging them to look out for non-compliant or counterfeit electrical installation products.Our Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group version of the fact sheet emphasises the counterfeit problem worldwide, associated product dangers and efforts to beat counterfeiters. Over the coming months, it will be circulated at exhibitions and events in many countries.Electrical contractors and engineers should be aware of seemingly too good to be true deals, and avoid buying from unauthorised distributors and unauthorised websites. Beware of people/companies about which you are not sure. If in doubt, check with the original manufacturer – they will know if a distributor is authorised or not – and if a deal is too good to be true.

Download this fact sheet

Distributor awareness campaign

Our email campaign reinforced the message to branch managers of 2,000 electrical distributors. The ‘COUNTERFEIT KILLS – Be Safe, don’t electrocute your customers’ flyer attachment can be used as a poster reiterating to staff/customers counterfeit and non-compliant electrical product dangers.It highlights product types – circuit breakers with shoddy components (some with no overloads); RCDs and RCBOs not conforming to rigid protection standards; fuses without fuse elements (overheating they act like electric fires); wiring accessories – poor imitations that can overheat, cause fires; cables and wires – substandard or insufficient copper, short lengths; lighting – substandard designs causing short life span and/or overheating.

Download this poster.

Fraudulent certification marksFraudulent use of non-authorised certification and conformity marks is also rife. The counterfeit manufacturer and unscrupulous trader will put on any mark to fool the client and consumer into believing they are buying the genuine article, conforming to relevant specifications. If you doubt such claims, contact the original manufacturer or certification body.The fact sheet and distributor flyer refer to (see Voltimum portal), which features a ‘Blow the Whistle’ section so you can confidentially report any suspicions concerning potential counterfeit electrical products. The web site also provides important advice/information to combat threats from counterfeits.

Remember the ’3Ps’…

Avoid the hazard of buying dangerous counterfeit products…

  • Remember the 3 Ps – Person, Place, Price.If tempted to buy from a Person with whom you have not done business before, not at your usual Place, or at Price seemingly too good to be true – BEWARE. You are almost certainly buying a dangerous fake.
  • Be vigilant if you doubt a product’s authenticity, immediately check with the original manufacturer.
  • Only purchase products from a reputable, authorised supplier/distributor.

More information from BEAMA…


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