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Counterfeit electronics being sold on eBay

technologyEdward KiledjianComment

My most recent articles have been product reviews and a question I received from 2 readers was related to buying some of these items from online auction sites (eBay being the 800 lb. gorilla). The readers wanted to know :

Is it was “safe” to buy higher end electronics on eBay

Having spent some time in Asia, I have seen firsthand similar looking replicas made available in the open market. Sure you can find fake sportswear, sunglasses and DVDs but you can also find very convincing Mophie branded battery packs, headphones and even electronics (smartphones, music players, etc).

As a test, I recently purchase a Mophie JuicePack Air that was priced below market price (which aroused my suspicion).  The eBay item was packaged exactly like the retail one I had purchased locally. Everything was perfect from the wording and design of the box, to the placement of the stickers and the manual manual (even the manual was an exact replica -  There were no glaring English mistakes or misprint. It looked perfect.)

After 1 week of testing, I quickly realized something was wrong. The eBay acquired device drained its batter 70% faster than the real Mophie JuicePack Air (purchased from a reliable brick and mortar store in Canada. Plus the eBay one seemed to heat up a lot.  I decided to disassemble both the eBay one and an older Mophie JuicePack Air, that I was no longer using, to compare. I discovered that the internal guts were very different. I contacted Mophie support with some of the additional information and was told the device I was holding was counterfeit.

The eBay seller had fantastic feedback and a long history of online sales. The only red flag was the slightly lower than market price for the item and the fact that it shipped from Hong Kong. I reached out to some other blog authors that had written about buying counterfeit items on eBay and learned that some of them came from the UK and even the US, so ship location doesn’t seem to be a good filter. One author even complained of receiving a counterfeit product from an Amazon reseller (not Amazon but someone selling through Amazon).

As long as there are buyers looking for “good deals”, you can be sure someone will try to take advantage of the situation.

Most eBay sellers are honest and will provide excellent service but there are a few bad apples in the bunch. Some manufacturers now refuse to warranty items purchase on eBay and demand a retail receipt for warranty claims. 

If you are in the market for higher-end electronics (headphone amps, headphones, name brand accessories), find out who is an authorized online reseller and buy directly from their ecommerce site. Check out price comparison using tools like Google Product or Amazon.com (in the US). In Canada, you can use price comparison sites like dealgenius.ca, pricegrabber, Nextag or shopbot.

If something is too good to be true, it probably is.