The Anti-counterfeit Agency (ACA) recently warned about the rise in counterfeit electrical appliances and cautioned the public to be careful when buying such.

This was after the Agency seized counterfeit televisions worth Ksh28 million at the inland container depot in Embakasi last week. This begs the question, how can consumers protect themselves from counterfeits?

Below are simple ways to help you spot fakes and genuine household appliances.

No contact details

If the manufacturer’s physical address, e-mail, phone number or any other contact details are not listed on the product or package, it should raise concerns. This  is because you will have no means of contacting anyone  incase of any grievances. It is best to avoid such products. If the contact details are mentioned, try to verify these on the website or call to confirm before you make a purchase.

Missing accessories

Make sure that all the supplementary parts and accessories that have been mentioned on the package are present in the box. If the instruction manual, warranty card, wires, plugs or other items are missing, get back to the retailer immediately. Better still, open the box and check it in the store before buying. In case of an online purchase, you can make a video recording while you unbox the product.

Poor quality of products

The quality of counterfeit products is usually suspect, with cheap alternatives used in place of the original. The material can be tacky plastic, fake leather, cheap glass, poor quality cloth, old or used parts in electronic appliances and gadgets. Even the shape of the containers can be slightly different. If the product has a course, used feel to it, do not buy it.

Fake websites

If you are shopping online, one easy way to counter the purchase of fake items is to check the authenticity of websites. If the site is fake, so are the products. Confirm the URL and ensure that the site is safe by looking for ‘https’ (instead of http) and  also be on the look out for the lock sign. You can also verify the site’s authenticity by pasting the website address on scamadvisor . This lets you know whether it’s a legitimate site or not.

Flawed fonts, logos

Much like the spellings, it is easy to detect fake logos, brand names and trademarks. If you are observant and know the original logos well, you can catch even the smallest variation. If this is difficult for you, take a picture of the product you think is fake and compare it with the original online. The font could be slightly different or of the wrong size. The color could be faded or altered minutely from the original. The printed text could be faded, smudged, illegible or misaligned.

Unrealistic discounts

If you buy something, especially online, at a fraction of the price, or the deal is too good to be true, it usually is. Know how much discount is typically available on branded or luxury items and if the offer is unrealistically low, say, 70-80 per cent off the retail price, then you are probably buying a fake.

Grammatical and spelling mistakes

Counterfeit products can be easily identified through wrong spelling or grammatical errors. For instance, Hewlett Packard may be written as Hewlet Pacard, or Louis Vuitton may be spelt as Vitton. While these mistakes in brand names are deliberate to lure the careless customer, those in the product information or manual reflect the fraudsters’ lack of education. So read carefully for this clear giveaway.

Frail packaging

This is a dead giveaway as good brands and businesses take a lot of care and spend a lot of money on packaging. If the item is shabbily packed, doesn’t fit properly in the box, uses substandard material like cheap plastic or sagging cardboard, take it as a sign of counterfeiting. Similarly, if you get a product without any packaging at all, know it to be a fake.

Omissions and mismatch

The company prints several features like codes, serial or model numbers, trademark, and patent information on the package or product. Typically, fake products miss out on a few details while copying the information. You can also crosscheck the numbers with the original products online, especially for electronic items or appliances.

Unauthorized centers

It’s best to buy electronic items from authorized retailers and genuine brand outlets. If you are getting a good discount elsewhere, check the store’s address by going online and make sure you have genuine contact details before making any purchase.