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Stop faking it!
Tuesday 22nd November, 2011

At first glance, the football shirt seems to be authentic. The branding looks legitimate. And the packaging even bears the unique hologram which appears on all genuinely licensed Manchester United merchandise.

However, on closer inspection, the quality of the product is lacklustre. The fabric is cheap, the finishing poor. And in all likelihood, it will fall apart by the third wash.

Not exactly a premiership performance.

But the issue around the sale of counterfeit goods isn’t simply about cutting corners on quality.

Because consumers who buy counterfeit merchandise on the internet, down the pub, at the car boot or off the back of a lorry aren’t simply investing in poor quality, sub-standard and potentially dangerous replicas. They could also be funding organised crime.

That’s why National Consumer Week is this year focussing on the sale of counterfeit goods, particularly around sports-related merchandise, fake tickets, and bogus travel and accommodation packages.

And in support of this year’s theme – Good sports don’t fake it - Wigan Council’s Trading Standards officers will be out in the community to advise shoppers how to spot fakes and avoid rogue traders.

“As the Olympic momentum builds, consumers who are passionate about sport are particularly vulnerable to falling foul of conmen,” says Julie Middlehurst, chief Trading Standards officer at Wigan Council.

“Experts are predicting a surge in the sale of counterfeit Olympic-related merchandise, including the sale of fake tickets. These fraudsters are clever and can appear incredibly plausible. We urge people to show caution. To avoid the expense, heartbreak and disappointment of missing this once in a lifetime event, please buy tickets and goods from legitimate websites.”

At both Wigan and Leigh markets, Trading Standards officers will be inviting shoppers to visit them on dedicated stalls, where a range of fake goods will be on display.

“Fortunately, our traders are responsible and law-abiding, so we do not have a problem with fake goods in our markets,” says Phil Edge, the man responsible for managing the markets at Wigan Council.

“Our markets in Wigan and Leigh are about to join the Real Deal market scheme, a nationally recognised scheme which awards markets who work with Trading Standards officers to protect shoppers and ensure fake goods are not sold on their premises.”

Whilst the thrust of the campaign is to remind us of our rights, National Consumer Week also urges us to consider our obligations, too.

“We appreciate that people love to bag a bargain, but please be aware: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Not only could you be buying sub-standard, faulty or dangerous goods, you could also be lining the pockets of organised criminals. We're not just talking fake DVDs, clothing and trainers. There's also a market in perfume, cigarettes and tobacco which have severe health risks as they are made with no regard to safety standards. It’s just not worth the risk."

Cllr David Molyneux, deputy leader of Wigan Council and cabinet member for regeneration, adds:
“Customer confidence is crucial for the growth of local business. Across our borough we are running our own Buy Local campaign, and events such as National Consumer Week complement this.

“We believe that the best way to ensure we have a thriving local economy is to support home-grown businesses and a big part of this is empowering the consumer to make informed choices.”

"Whatsmore, the black market economy harms local businesses who cannot compete. And the wider UK economy is affected through lost tax revenue which help fund public services, so everyone's a loser except the criminals."

To report anyone selling fake goods, please contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.

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