Beware of pitfalls of ‘guaranteed fakes’

Knowler’s R700 fake Nokia 3310, against an image of the real thing

Do you know your fakes from your parallel imports?

While the former are counterfeit goods, the latter are genuine, just not intended for sale in South Africa.

The retailer acquires the parallel import or “grey” product from sources other than the local manufacturers or licensed distributors and the local companies don’t honour any warranty on it.

Provided the retailer boldly discloses that the product is a parallel import, and what that means for the warranty, it’s perfectly legal, and you’ll find these products in many major retail stores, including Checkers and Dis-Chem, as well as for sale online by the likes of Takealot.

For many consumers, the lower prices are worth the “back door” implications, but bear in mind that the product may well not be identical to the version sold via authorised channels in South Africa, especially when it comes to cosmetics.

The fakes are another story altogether – those you really want to avoid.

If you’re among the “must have it now” camp when it comes to electronics, you’re the fakers’ target market.

The surprising must-have phone of moment is the revived Nokia 3310, which went on sale just more than a week ago in the UK and almost immediately sold out. Clearly some people value long battery life above all else when it comes to a cellphone.

Last Monday, Nokia brand owner HMD Global announced its arrival in South Africa, saying it would be available in Cell C stores for R749.

A techie colleague of mine was unable to get his hands on one, but a Cell C staffer referred him to an electronics store in Durban’s Musgrave Centre – Afritech – saying they were selling the genuine article.

I went to check it out and was assured by the two men in the store who offered me a black and white 3310 that it was indeed genuine and could be mine for R750. When I protested, they knocked that down to R700.

The phone was naked – no box, no instructions. Off the shelf they pulled earphones and a charger.

I paid, left and then got my colleague to check out the phone – definitely fake, he said. No surprise there.

Back in the store, I got shrugs and muted denials when I asked why they were selling fake phones.

“It’s got a guarantee,” said one. Of course it does; it’s a guaranteed fake.

And the cheek of it – they’re asking the same price as what the original sells for.

How can you tell the fake from the genuine article?

Cheap packaging – or in my case, no packaging.

The battery is a 1 500mAh unit, whereas the genuine phone has a 1 200mAh unit.

When you open the back and remove the battery, the fake’s SIM card slots are near the centre of the phone, instead of tucked away almost out of sight at the top right of the battery compartment.

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