Countering the counterfeits

A look at the consequences of using fake parts and data in vehicle servicing

Published:  22 October, 2014

By Neil Pattemore

Unfortunately, no - there are too many counterfeit parts, but is it as simple as just a cheap rip-off copy and if you do use such parts, shame on you, what are the wider implications?

So let me be clear about my position. I 100% condemn the use of counterfeit parts, software or equipment, it should have no place in any professionally run business. There is a direct, deceitful implication to the customer, the unknown quality of the items used creates a liability to the workshop owner if the part, software, data or equipment does not function correctly. In the aftermarket, there is a huge range of differently priced products to choose from, so there is no excuse to buy counterfeit products but if you choose to do so and something goes wrong, don't expect any back up from the original manufacturer. What may appear initially to be a low cost item will suddenly become an expensive problem.

The group of original equipment parts manufacturers (OESAA) who supply some of their parts to the vehicle manufacturers' production lines have implied that when you buy their other parts (even if they are not products that are actually supplied to a vehicle manufacturer's production line) that they are of the same 'OE quality'. However, OESAA also imply that any part which is not produced by an OE supplier may be inferior to their 'OE quality' parts, which in many cases is simply not true. I would not claim that the OESAA position was fraudulently misleading but where is the line between legitimate claims of originality and an implication of such - where is the line between genuine original parts and those that masquerade as such?

So what are the impacts on the genuine product providers if you use counterfeit products? On the surface, is it just another competitor in the marketplace who is trading on their brand, but is there something more sinister that affects both them and you?

Frequently, there is also another significant risk of using counterfeit products in the near future. Access to the security related repair and maintenance information from the vehicle manufacturers (which may also include emission related parts) will not be granted if the business or their employees have any relevant criminal record. This would significantly and increasingly impact any business which was caught using counterfeit products as more vehicles fall under the Euro 5 legislation that supports legitimate businesses by providing the same level of access as main dealers for all repair and maintenance information.

Additionally, if garage licencing becomes a reality, which appears to be an increasing possibility, then the same implications may apply - the industry and consumers want trustworthy automotive professionals, not convicted criminals, so it would be unlikely that a garage would be licenced.

So, as the old saying states, there is a big difference between price and cost but in the case of counterfeiting, it may come down to the price you have to pay in every sense of the word. Some businesses in the Aftermarket therefore need to think about the real cost and implications of using counterfeit products - not only is it illegal but it benefits no-one and is a short-sighted decision that could cost you your business. All of this brings me back to the word 'genuine'.

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