Two truths and a life
There’s a quote by American film producer, Robert Evans, that goes, “there are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth.” Perspective is important—and that’s in every given situation, including when considering the counterfeiting industry as a whole. Which is why we’re taking a moment to look at counterfeiting from a different vantage point: from behind the counter.
The inspiration for this blog post came from an interview posted on HANNAH, a replica handbag review site. The interview was conducted through email with the owner of a replica handbag store. In it, the subject gripes about the difficulties of his domain being shut down every few months, along with some feeble attempts at pathos by explaining how the sale of counterfeit goods is a game of trust. He then makes the (grand) claim that 98% of counterfeit sellers are honest salesmen and saleswomen.
That may be his truth, but, as a brand protection provider focused on promoting a safe and ethical trade of goods, our truth sounds significantly different. We try to base our truth on documented fact. For instance, how the US sized $1.7 billion worth of goods in 2013 alone due to the counterfeiting industry or how the WHO estimates that roughly 50% of pharmaceuticals sold on illicit online sites are counterfeit. These are the truths we know, backed up by reputable sources, and they are what drive us in fighting counterfeits every day.
Greed vs Good
It must be said: we understand the appeal of the counterfeiting industry. Authentic brands can be expensive and it’s natural for consumers to want to take part in the newest trends. There is a great demand for cheap products and, with access to cheap labor, producing and selling counterfeit goods can generate great profits for the top honchos in the business. We recognize the allure of such a business venture. And, though we certainly can’t fault struggling individuals who see a financial opportunity that could potentially drastically improve their lives, we must question their moral compass. Everyone has their reasons for selling and purchasing counterfeit goods, and we would be remiss not to recognize the individual motivations that drive these decisions. But we ask those involved in the continuation of the counterfeiting industry to do as we just did: to set aside their personal desires and affiliations and think about those affected by the production of counterfeit goods. In most circumstances, there are real, human lives at stake.
What the store owners perhaps don’t realize or don’t want to admit, is that the counterfeiting industry ultimately comes down to varying degrees of corruption. Yes, there are immense economical impacts, but more importantly, there are humanitarian impacts. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has released a thorough report that details the extent of counterfeiting’s reach. In it, they cover the effects that counterfeiting has on organized crime and gangs, as well as the consequences concerning its environmental impact, threat to public health and safety, and labor exploitation. And though we understand that every vendor has their own reasons for dealing in the criminal trade, we don’t believe their gains are worth the global impact. As the report states, “the illicit trafficking of counterfeit goods is a crime which touches virtually everyone in one way or another.”
The report goes on to identify the most commonly sold counterfeit products per industry, and, subsequently, the problems that the individual industries encounter when afflicted by fake products. It paints a very accurate picture of how far-reaching the effects of counterfeiting are in a condense and easy-to-read report. Among the major takeaways is the statistic that 57% of counterfeit seizures made at European borders comprised of clothing, accessories and shoes. Based on that fact, it would appear that the human cost of cheap clothing comes at a pretty high price.
Good intentions, criminal offenses
This article is not intended to shame counterfeit store owners for trying to make a living. We simply believe it’s important to understand the consequences of these actions—both for the vendors themselves as well as public consumers. Making a choice such as selling or buying counterfeit goods has a ripple effect, touching lives all across the world. And though the vendors of inauthentic merchandise are usually not caricatures of evil, vicious antagonists, they are consciously making criminal choices. There is a lack of social responsibility that accompanies individuals who deal in counterfeit goods, which directly contradicts Pointer’s personal values and company vision.
With a variety of solutions for brands of all sizes who are continuously being impaired by counterfeiters, we combine our expert service with a sophisticated software to combat the online perpetrators. However, we also aim to help consumers navigate their way through safe online shopping. In this vein, we have a Report a Fake page on our website if you’re in doubt about a particular item. Our team of investigators will expertly deduce whether the item is indeed a fake or a legitimate item, so you harbor no responsibility in the takedown of authentic products. Though, if you’re in doubt about an item’s authenticity, it’s always safer to refrain from purchasing it. Another useful tip is to always buy directly from the brand themselves. Buying directly often gives you access to all the perks, including warranty and customer care. Ultimately, awareness is a key component in making online purchases, no matter what side of the fight you’re on. What matters is you know what you’re buying, byproducts and all.