UAE consumers: The unsuspecting victims of counterfeit products
Unlike a dodgy DVD or a fake designer handbag, counterfeit print supplies are very difficult to spot.
Dubai - The opportunity to save some dirhams on alternatives is just too tempting - and very damaging
By Mathew Thomas
Published: Thu 17 Aug 2017, 5:32 PM
Last updated: Thu 17 Aug 2017, 7:34 PM
Print cartridges are a sophisticated technology in their own right, which represents the majority of the technology in printers of today. They are also one of the most common counterfeit products in the market due to its popular demand with home and business consumers. Counterfeit printing supplies do not only cost the consumer time and money with expensive reprints - they can also ruin their printers and void the product of its warranty. In the UAE, consumers tend to think about printers and ink cartridges like they would for petrol and a car.
Surely, replacing the ink cartridges in a printer is just like filling your car with petrol; it runs out, and you top it up again, with petrol from their preferred petrol station. Would you fill your car with sub-standard petrol, or 'petrol' from a dodgy shop or online store? Probably not; you would most likely be too worried about the long-term impact it would have on the inside of your car. So, why do people take such a cavalier attitude towards counterfeit print supplies?
For many people, the opportunity to save a couple of dirhams on print cartridges and toner is just too tempting, and for others, they are unknowingly duped by dubious online sale sites or unapproved stores. Unfortunately, it's normal people using their printers that end up paying the long term costs - poor print quality, leaky cartridges and in the worse cases, catastrophic printer damage.
So, what exactly are counterfeit print supplies? They are substandard cartridges and toner. However, unlike a dodgy DVD or a fake designer handbag, these counterfeit print supplies are very difficult to spot. They can look almost identical to the real thing, right down to the packaging the products come in. Sophisticated techniques mean it's getting harder and harder to spot fakes and catch the culprits behind the sale of these illegal products.
So, what's the real risk to people buying fake print supplies for their printers? Firstly, using non-OEM supplies can cause long-term performance and reliability issues. Testing done by Buyers Lab showed that original ink cartridges surpass non-original alternatives by producing on average 50 per cent more pages. The same test revealed that more than 40 per cent of non-original ink cartridges failed either being dead on arrival or expiring prematurely. The issues are not only with the longevity of cartridges, counterfeit print supplies usually give a poor-quality print-out, this could include ink spotting, streaking, smudging and smearing. Toner splatter and poor colour quality are also issues associated with fakes.
There's also the potential for long-term, and very costly, damage to the inside of your printer. Toner leaks from poorly-assembled print supplies can create a mess inside printers. Key parts can become contaminated with leaking ink and toner, while your own hands and clothes can become stained when trying to fix the printer or remove poorly performing cartridges. Some of these issues can cause machine failures and total breakdowns, which can be both difficult and costly to repair. Should your printer break because of using counterfeit printer ink or toner, you could also have issues with your manufacturer's warranty becoming not applicable. The short-term gains simply aren't worth the potential long-term problems.
Finally - those couple of dirhams you save when you buy print cartridges online or in-store from an unofficial source - where do you think that money goes? Unfortunately it's not being ploughed back into print businesses to help them develop new, cutting edge technology. More often that not that money is being funneled into organised crime or additional illegal activities.
HP, with UAE law authorities, work to investigate and seize counterfeit products, to help keep customers safe from being sold inferior quality and unlawful goods. In just six months last year, from May-October 2016, 1.9 million counterfeit products were seized across the Emea region.
With counterfeiting of goods, especially printing products, growing at an alarming rate, people need to be extra vigilant about the ink and toner they are buying.
The writer is managing director for the Middle East, Turkey and East Africa at HP. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.