HomeNewsCounterfeits suffocate local company

Counterfeits suffocate local company

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Aspire Electrical Devices, a producer of electrical products, is facing viability problems as a result of an influx in cheap counterfeit products that have flooded the local market.

The company has witnessed a reduction of profits since 1999 when cheap electrical gadgets started trickling into the country.

Corporate administrator for Aspire Electrical Devices, Patience Muzadzi, told NewsDay this week that if unchecked, local companies could fold as they could not compete with the much cheaper products.

“Since the introduction of counterfeits in 1999 Aspire Electrical Devices has been battling to stem the increasing volumes flooding the Zimbabwean market,” said Muzadzi.

“Counterfeits are sold to unsuspecting customers who make the purchase in the mistaken belief that they are getting the genuine product at a bargain.”

Products which have found their way onto the local market include foodstuffs, clothes, medicine, electronic gadgets and batteries.

Muzadzi said the company has had to adopt unothordox means of fighting off competition brought about by the counterfeits, including taking retailers selling the goods to court.

She said counterfeit sellers counted on the reputation of well known brands have been selling fake products to unsuspecting final users at cheaper prices.

“Retailers selling these counterfeits have often claimed that they were ignorant of the fact that they were selling counterfeits, believing them to be the genuine products,” said Muzadzi.

“Customers on enquiring about a product vest their trust in the reassurance as to the quality of the product given by the retailer and make purchases based on the assurances given by the retailer.
This means that retailers who tell customers that the product is genuine knowingly or unknowingly are making fraudulent claims to unsuspecting final users.”

Counterfeit products are not only a problem in Zimbabwe but in other African countries.

According to the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, in 2009 counterfeits cost local companies more than Sh50 billion ($615 million) in lost revenue.

The government also lost Sh19 billion in taxes in 2010 due to the manufacture and sale of fake goods.

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation says counterfeiting is a threat that can no longer be ignored or allowed to continue.

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