The audiovisual market is still being flooded with fake projector lamps and the numbers are continuing to increase, according to specialist distributor Just Lamps.
Dave Bethell, chief executive and founder of Just Lamps, said the problem he first warned the market about two years ago has continued and has now escalated.
"The fact is that people are being duped. If you were offered a £1,000 Rolex watch for £20 you'd know you are buying a knock-off copy, but if you're offered the same Rolex watch for £900, you start to think you may have a great deal," Bethell said.
"Unfortunately, that's exactly what's happening in the replacement lamp industry with customers paying a high price for what they think is a genuine product and unwittingly receiving a fake."
He said that Just Lamps had conducted a series of test purchases around the world of product whose price seemed too good to be true and said their results suggest there are now thousands of fake lamps circulating in all markets.
"The lamps that have made their way into the supply chain are visually very convincing. The packaging, manuals and bulbs all look genuine and they have the correct logos and markings. Unless buyers have the original lamp to compare, it's almost impossible to tell them from the genuine article," he said.
"Many in the channel are being duped."
Bethell also warned to watch out in cases where orders are fulfilled direct to the end customer on behalf of the reseller, meaning the channel is not controlling for quality. Yet fake lamps are not just illegal but can also be hazardous, he said.
Just Lamps has launched a website, www.counterfeitlamps.com, which incorporates a guide to identifying fake projector lamps, including bulb markings, explaining lamp construction, and what a customer should expect to see in the case of a genuine lamp.
There is also a free evaluation service for worried consumers and advice on what to do if counterfeits are discovered.
"The whole issue of supply management needs addressing, and having a better educated market will help drive this," said Bethell.
A genuine projector lamp and a counterfeit version of the same product. Can you tell the difference? The fake is on the right, according to Just Lamps, which supplied this photograph.
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