Thursday, April 10, 2008

Faked Out

There’s little chance I’ll ever be dressed in an Alfred Dunn shirt, have on a pair of Louis Vuitton shoes, or sport a Panerai watch (I only know these fashionable products because I saw them mentioned in a magazine I subscribe to). In fact, I’m only able to speak knowledgeably about “brands” if they’re related to cigars, alcohol (excluding wine), or golf clubs. And, given the pervasiveness of counterfeit goods these days, I’m glad I don’t have an affinity for designer labels.

It’s fascinating to me how the counterfeiters are able to reproduce name-brand products with such remarkable detail that even the experts have difficulty telling the real deal from the imitation. Thanks largely to digital imaging, these forgers are able to reverse engineer nearly flawless knock-offs of almost anything. It’s fairly easy to replicate a label using a laser scanner, but some of these imitators have gotten so good that they’re even providing fake warranty cards and holograms too.

Of course there’s always some exacting detail(s) that distinguish the bogus product from the legitimate one, but companies are becoming reluctant to provide guidelines on how to tell the difference between their products versus the knock-offs because they know the phony manufacturers will use the information to improve their counterfeit.

Forgetting that counterfeiting accounts for billions of dollars in lost tax revenues and jobs, is responsible for the exploitation of children in factories and sweatshops, and the fact that many counterfeits serve as a primary source of funding for terrorist groups, some of their replications are downright impressive. [It always amazing to me all the energy, and even inventiveness, criminals sometimes exert in their illegal activities. Imagine if some of their ‘resourcefulness’ was directed toward legitimate enterprise?!]

So, given the occurrence of sham products (electronics, pharmaceuticals, clothes, accessories, etc.) and the difficulty of spotting fakes, about the only thing you can do to keep from getting ripped off is to buy from reputable sources. It truly is a ‘buyer beware’ marketplace nowadays.

In the cigar world, the allure of ‘smoking a Cuban’ is so strong it’s estimated that 90% of the so-called Cuban cigars sold are fake. Now I have little empathy for someone who thinks they can readily get hold of a box of Montecristo No. 2s – they’re just not available. Unfortunately, they’ll always be a guy who believes he can deceive someone with a $25 Tag Heuer.

I don’t mean for you to question the authenticity of your purchases, but as soon my game demands a new set of Callaways, you can be sure I won’t be buying them off of eBay or out of the back of some guy’s van. Sadly, it’ll probably be awhile before I need to make this purchase.

Amusing Quote for today from the Anti-Nannier