Trading Standards warn consumers to avoid on-line fake goods.

Trading Standards Officers at The Highland Council are warning consumers to avoid being stung by sellers of poor quality counterfeit goods online or through social networking sites.

2012 saw an increase in complaints and information to Trading Standards about the use of the internet to sell fake goods, especially clothing, handbags, perfume, jewellery, shoes, headphones and hair straighteners.

There are increasingly two principal methods used, as Trading Standards Team Leader David MacKenzie explained: “One way in which consumers are ripped off is through impressive-looking online “shops”, apparently UK-based, selling products directly to consumers at discounted prices.  Often these are run by scammers based in Asia and the counterfeit goods supplied are shoddy and pale imitations of the genuine product.  Another scenario we are seeing more and more often is UK-based individuals selling fakes face-to-face after advertising their wares through social media.”

Highland Council Trading Standards have recently submitted a report to the Procurator Fiscal in respect of an individual who was using Facebook as a means to sell counterfeit goods from the Highlands.

David MacKenzie continued: “Consumers are entitled to expect that the goods they buy from the internet are of the quality associated with the named brand. There are obvious limitations on what we can do about sellers based in Asia, but we want to send a strong message to anyone in the UK considering engaging in this illegal trade that we will take whatever action in necessary to prevent consumers and businesses losing out.  Sellers of fake goods cheat consumers, undermine legitimate businesses and threaten jobs.”

And in another strand to the campaign against counterfeits, Trading Standards have teamed up with brand holders to provide self-help advice for consumers who are considering buying on-line.

The “Brand-i” website allows consumers to search for stockists of legitimate branded goods.  If a website advertising the relevant goods is not listed with Brand-i, then the advice is not to buy as products will not be genuine.  Consumers can also use the site to report suspicious websites that they encounter.

Brand-i is an independent directory run by Brand Information Ltd and supported by the Trading Standards Institute, so consumers can rely on it as a source of information.  The web address is: https://www.Brand-i.org/

David MacKenzie added: “Brand-i is an excellent source of information for consumers who are thinking about buying branded goods.  This type of pre-shopping advice is our main tool in combatting the overseas counterfeiters and we have now included a link to Brand-i on the Highland Council website at http://www.highland.gov.uk.”

Anyone with information regarding the supply of counterfeit goods can contact Trading Standards in confidence at trading.standards@highland.gov.uk or telephone 01463 228700.

23 Jan 2013
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