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Open letter to Editor

Fake electrical products can be real killers says Schneider Electric techno-commercial manager Paul Canning…

Open letter to Editor

The topic of counterfeiting of consumer goods has been in the headlines for several years now – largely thanks to lobbies from powerful global brands. The fact is that the same production of Fake goods in the Electrical Distribution equipment market goes largely unreported; but potentially has far greater consequences.

If a fake Nike “T” shirt fades prematurely it is annoying but no more than that. If a counterfeit circuit breaker fails, it could literally kill someone.

We have seen fake products arriving, mostly from the Far East, that are seriously and potentially life threatening – and these have come into our possession in the UK. In the worst example, we found an MCB (Miniature Circuit Breaker) that had no protective components at all within it. A single copper braid breached the two poles – effectively rendering the device as nothing more than a potentially dangerous switch!

The worry is that counterfeit products enter the UK market place in a variety of guises. There are three obvious ways in which goods are imported. As grey imports (not technically illegal, but rarely with manufacturer’s warranties); legal or illegal copies that perform less well than the legitimate originals; and the downright dangerous fakes that make no attempt to even provide a degree of electrical safety at all. It is worth noting that even the fakes carry the CE & EN standard mark so this is clearly no guarantee of buying a genuine product in this instance

The call is therefore for everyone in the trade – wholesalers and stockists; contractors and electricians – to check very carefully the origins of any equipment they purchase. They will do well to consider that it is they, the suppliers and installers, who carry the legal responsibility if a counterfeit product fails – it is certainly not the manufacturer whose goods have been copied.

Schneider Electric advises that its products should always be purchased from a reputable and authorised Distributor. Remember, cheap fakes could lead to highest possible price being paid – a life.

Paul Canning

Techno-Commercial Manager

Schneider Electric Building Systems and Solutions

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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