Too good to be true

Olympus Digital Camera

Judging from the number of FedX, UPS, and USPS delivery trucks I’m seeing in the neighborhood, it’s clear a majority of people are buying things online, and why not? Online shopping is a convenient, quick, and relatively safe way to shop. As popular as online shopping is, it’s not without its perils, especially when buying archery equipment and supplies.

In recent years, shiploads of counterfeit archery products, all with brand-names, have been discovered as coming from China, India, Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong. Studies of counterfeiting’s impact on the U.S. economy estimated that 87 percent of lost value came from products made in China, which accounts for 70 percent of all bogus goods. One product, in particular, stands out.

As any bowhunter knows, broadheads are expensive and, good ones sell for about 15 dollars each. As a result, many shooters may be tempted to look online for a better price and that’s easy to find. Counterfeit broadheads can be found all over the internet and they look exactly like the genuine ones found on dealer’s shelves except for several things.

These counterfeit broadheads are made with cheap material and their tolerances are abysmal. Not only that, by buying counterfeit equipment, archery in general, is being hurt. Legitimate manufactures have to pay an 11 percent federal excise tax on goods they manufacture, and this money goes to support archery clubs, programs, and other endeavors. These lost revenues also hurt state and federal wildlife-management programs that rely on FET funding for research, hunter education, and shooting ranges. Counterfeit manufacturers don’t pay this tax and this hurts legitimate businesses like local Pro shops as well.

Fighting counterfeit archery products is difficult because counterfeiters are often skilled criminals whose imitations mimic authentic products and their packaging. Companies with high-brand name recognition are mostly targeted, and if these counterfeiters are discovered, they quickly shift their efforts to other products.

Some counterfeit archery products look so authentic they initially fool legitimate manufacturers, who must inspect everything from clamshell packaging to the product’s tool-and-die marks, sometimes with a magnifying glass. In other less sophisticated cases, the phonies are obvious because they mismatch the product’s colors and logos and may have misspelled words on the packaging. Counterfeiters also deceptively use photos of authentic products in online advertising and price their counterfeit goods just low enough to avoid suspicion. In the past, these counterfeit operations priced their fake products at about half of what a legitimate product sold for, but that brought suspicion on them. Since then they’ve learned if they sell a product for 10 percent off, people think it’s legitimate.

When someone purchases a product online and it fails, they blame the legitimate manufacturer, and they may attempt to return it. When that manufacturer realizes it didn’t make the product, it often declines to replace it or refund the buyer’s money, which creates hard feelings and a lost customer.

In recent years, the Archery Trade Association has taken steps to curtail this influx of bogus goods, but consumers can help as well.  Supporting your local archery shop is the best way to avoid buying counterfeit merchandise. A legitimate archery retailer is qualified to sell or promote professional archery brands, but only if they have a fixed address, phone number, and a valid business license. Anyone selling high-end products without these, or who is unable to provide them, is considered unauthorized and not legitimately allowed to sell them. Dealers and Pro Shops are the backbone of the sport and without their hard work and knowledge of archery, it would be difficult to keep the sport alive.

Categories: New York – Mike Raykovicz

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