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Counterfeit parts: Let the buyer beware

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There is a Latin term handed down from English common law: “Caveat Emptor,” which means “let the buyer beware” of what is purchased. In this era when purchasing parts and other products online is becoming more common, that cautious approach to purchasing is of particular importance.

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Recently Transmission Digest participated in a discussion with a supplier in our industry. They had been taking perplexing technical calls on their products. Only after some time did they realize the products in question were not theirs. That began an internal investigation that eventually led them down the rabbit hole of online e-commerce sites such as eBay and Amazon. 

There, they noticed dozens of listings of their products for sale. Upon closer inspection, it was apparent many of these products, though being advertised with their brand and part number, were not in fact their parts. What followed turned into days and eventually weeks of online sleuthing and backtracking information.

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At the end of the research road, what they discovered was a single entity out of China using various UPS stores as their U.S. address with over 70 different stealth eBay accounts and dozens more on Amazon and Walmart, selling counterfeit products using more than a single well-known name brand.

To be clear, these are not the generic parts to which many turned when the supply chain challenges were at the most troubling level. The products examined were entirely misrepresented as being a branded kit from a trusted manufacturer.

Spotting counterfeit products is usually as easy as knowing the distributor/vendor. Reliable and well-known parts are available from known industry distributors, including known internet marketplace distributors. If you have a doubt, most suppliers maintain a list of distributors on their website or will verify one with a simple email or phone call to the brand manufacturer/supplier.

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It’s worth noting that a part or kit represented on an online marketplace site as being an ABC part isn’t warrantied by ABC unless it is truly ABC’s product. Builders beware and know the source of parts you’ve purchased on the internet. Keep receipts as proof of purchase should a product warranty issue arise.

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