If you shop online (and who doesn’t nowadays?), buyer beware! A recent report by the US Government Accountability found the following: “Growth in e-commerce has contributed to a shift in the sale of counterfeit goods in the United States, with consumers increasingly purchasing goods online and counterfeiters producing a wider variety of goods that may be sold on websites alongside authentic products.” Counterfeit health and personal care products and consumer electronics were called out as posing a risk to health and safety. The water treatment category is no exception.
Earlier this year, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) launched an advertising campaign to get the word out about fake refrigerator filters. The message was clear: Filters sold online may have brand names and logos that look authentic, but they are not the real thing. The danger here is that your family may drink water that is not up to industry standards.
In many cases, the filters appear identical to brand-name products, but they don’t meet the safety and physical standards expected by homeowners, manufacturers, or regulators. It’s for this reason you should be very careful when selecting your replacement UV lamp. Sure, it may look like the right lamp. It may even seem to fit well in your VIQUA system. But if it’s not designed by VIQUA for a VIQUA UV system, you can be exposing yourself to risk.
Here are a few tips to help you know if you’re getting a genuine VIQUA lamp:
- Don’t rely on part numbers alone. A counterfeit seller knows that you’re looking for a specific lamp or quartz sleeve and will reference the actual VIQUA part number in their product description – like “compatible UV bulb 602805”. So look out for terms like “compatible” or “equivalent replacement”.
- Check a close-up image. All VIQUA lamps will have VIQUA branding stamped on the glass. The brand names to look for are Sterilight, UVMAX, or VIQUA. In fairness though, it’s easy enough to Photoshop an image and add a logo to a stock lamp photo. So here’s a trick from Stuart Fuller, director of commercial operation and communications at global brand protection firm NetNames. He recommends downloading the image and using Google's reverse image search to see if the photos were taken from another site. Or you can contact the seller to ask for more photos. If they won't provide their own photos, they may well be hiding something!
- The extra sweet deal. If you find a VIQUA lamp being sold for a lot less than the others out there, then it’s likely a fake. VIQUA has a minimum advertised price (MAP) policy, and we do our best to police that amongst both online and bricks and mortar retailers. If the amazing price only shows up after you have put the item in your cart, then someone is trying to skirt the rules.
- If you decide to go ahead and make that purchase, then do one last check when the UV lamp hits your doorstep. Check for original VIQUA packaging. Packaging should include a lamp change "Instruction Sheet" and a “System Registration Reminder” card. If these are missing, don’t take any chances.
There are many other tips and tricks out there for ensuring you get authentic goods from those big online retail sites. Do your homework to be sure you’re getting the real deal every time you shop online. For added confidence when buying a VIQUA UV lamp, check out our list of certified internet resellers or visit a water treatment dealer near you. Both can be found here.