Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Counterfeits Revisited

You might know, but you probably don't, that in 2005 I had a book published on the reasons why people buy counterfeit goods. The world has changed a bit since then, but the counterfeiters keep getting better at it. I loathe fake stuff. I can see why people buy it, but I wouldn't want to own any of it myself. I'd feel ashamed to walk down the street knowing I was wearing or carrying an illegal copy of someone else's work.

Last week, a bunch of us were in a lovely place in Nottinghamshire, Langar Hall. It's a country house hotel with a few rooms, all of them interesting, and a great restaurant. While I was there Henry Blofeld rang up to book a room (Blowers on the blower) and I was rather distressed to find that the Milibands and I had both occupied the honeymoon suite (with a few months in between).

Paul Smith goes there too, which is why Langar Hall appears in his Mini on Location series of prints. It's that orange house beind the mini from this year's spring summer season. The hotel have a set of the bags, and I liked them so much I decided to hunt one down and buy it. I put in a bid on eBay and got one, for a fair amount of money, but not full price so I concluded that it was from someone who'd bought it at the end of the season with their staff discount.

Wrong. It turned up and I got a nasty cold feeling as I took it out of its bag. It was a fake, but a good one. The counterfeiters had taken the trouble to emboss Paul Smith's logo all over the leather, inside and out, and on the metal clips that held on the shoulder strap. But the inside pocket zip wasn't reinforced with leather, the lining is cheap and nasty, the straps are synthetic not leather, the strap loops aren't riveted, the top zip has only one end, there was no luggage tag, and the zip collapsed on first try. It wasn't even the same model as the one in the picture. I was feeling pretty idiotic. When I checked the listing I saw that the seller doesn't accept returns, so I was ready to report him.

All the same, I decided to give him a second chance. I contacted him and told him it wasn't the bag in the picture and that he had been sold a counterfeit so perhaps he would like to exchange it for the one shown. I was sure there wouldn't be a reply, but he wrote back and said he would refund me if I returned it. So far he hasn't given me the address, but when (if) he does, I'll send it back recorded and await my refund.

I was pretty keen to report him to eBay, but since he's appearing to make amends, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt at first. But then if he tried to relist it, the wrath will be released and I'll be down like a ton of bricks. Perhaps he was genuinely duped himself. Or perhaps he thought no-one would notice. We'll see.

I did think of cutting my losses and sending the fake to Paul Smith HQ so they could see what was out their trashing their brand. I called customer serivices and got a recorded message of Paul that said I would be transferred to someone soon, then I got the same message again, and again, and again and I gave up.

So what do you think? I'll let you know what happens next.

1 comment:

  1. He sent me my money back, and I bought a real one. i'm still not sure if I ought to have shopped him.