This past week, Brett Brenner, president of the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), did an interview for the ABC affiliate in Los Angeles focusing on raising public awareness of counterfeit products. It is a segment that is well worth watching and that should be replayed in communities across the US. You can watch the segment here.
Over the last few years, the electrical industry has made a concerted effort to fight the rise of counterfeit goods. We have come a long way in educating manufacturers, distributors, government officials, and contractors on the absolute necessity for each part of the supply chain to do their part in fighting counterfeits. But, we have more work to do. Every day normal people across the United States purchase extension cords, hair dryers, and batteries not realizing that they are bringing a dangerous counterfeit device into their home. These products are becoming increasingly available in the United States, and consumers are more vulnerable now than ever before to the dangers they pose. Last year alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized $273 million in counterfeit goods a 37% increase in value over the previous year.
Oft times it is a case of mistaken identity. Counterfeit electrical products commonly found online and in deep discount stores might appear to be excellent copies, but they are substandard and fail to pass minimum safety tests. Counterfeiters use inferior materials and avoid key manufacturing steps to reduce the cost of their products, allowing them to be sold at prices no legitimate retailer or manufacturer can match. These low prices are particularly enticing as families across the nation struggle with the economic recession we now find ourselves in. However, for the unsuspecting consumer of these products, the risk of fire causing injury to person and property is dramatically increased. While it is important that the industry work together to prevent counterfeit components from entering our manufacturing facilities, it is equally important that we warn those in our communities who are unaware that electrical products are being counterfeited and that they pose serious risks to life and property.