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People who know me say I have an eBay problem. My thirst for online shopping bargain buys knows no bounds, which is specifically why I had to quit cold turkey in order to be able to afford rent. One of the biggest vices I had? Bargain-priced gadgets.
Over the years I struggled with online shopping addiction, I learned that there are a lot of companies that sell fake brand name gadgets. Lots of copycats and sometimes fakes flooded the online sales market, so it's important to know how to tell a knock-off product from the real McCoy.
These tips to help you recognize fake gadgets will work to help you save money, assuming you pay attention to what you're buying.
The product is WAY too cheap to actually be what it says it is.
One of the most obvious tips to help you recognize fake gadgets is to be realistic about the price. While it is possible to find great tech at bargain prices, there's only so low the price will realistically go — unless said company is liquidating its inventory.
You're not going to find a brand new iPhone for $5. You're not going to even get it for $50. So, if you see a brand-new $50 iPhone in mint condition, it's safe to say it's either a stolen phone or a knock-off.
The user manual should be written in a language you understand.
Some tips to help you recognize fake gadgets require you to actually be able to inspect the package. If you have the chance to do so, check the user manual. Top brands have a lot of copycats out there, and many copycats will put all the effort into making the gadget look similar — but leaving the user manual in the home country's language.
Needless to say, if you notice a name brand user manual in a language you don't recognize, it could be a fake product. Or, it could be stolen. Either way, it's not a good look.
Pay attention to the product material and build.
Most major name gadgets are easily recognizable with their designs. Most of us have held cell phones from Apple before, and know what they feel like. People who have a good eye will tell you that they will typically look for minor differences in build to determine whether something is a fake product or not.
A lot of fake products and copycat products will have small changes that you can typically point out with enough scrutiny. Things like a matte finish versus a glossy finish, sharp corners where they should be rounded, or just cheap-feeling material are dead giveaways.
The site you got the gadget from is sketchy and in poor English.
Big name resellers will have dedicated copywriters on their staff. Many tips to help you recognize fake gadgets will ask you to look at where you're buying the gizmo from.
If you can't really understand the instructions they're telling you, or if it's clearly a store that wouldn't get cleared for resales, you shouldn't be shocked if you get a fake product. You shouldn't need tips to help you recognize fake gadgets to figure this out, though. Sketchy is as sketchy does.
The fonts, names, and logos on the gadget don't quite match what they typically do.
Fonts, logos, and names are all part of a company's branding. Branding is what makes Apple, Apple — and what makes knock-off products want to be Apple. You pay for the brand, otherwise, you'd be okay with a "SAM'S SONG" phone.
Lots of copycats are known for being very crafty with how subtle they make those differences. So, make a point of looking at the fine print you see on the bottom of gadgets, or the logos on the boxes. You might be shocked how many will fool you.
The reviews left on the gadget (or the company) all sound fake.
Some of the tips to help you recognize fake gadgets actually deal with what's on the gadget itself — but, not all. If you're an online shopper, you might get tempted to snag a gadget on bigger platforms like eBay or Amazon. In many cases, you can find great gadgets under $20 on these sites.
However, these major selling platforms are infamous for the sheer amount of knock-offs being poised as the "real deal." One of the easiest ways to determine your chances of buying a knock-off is to see how the reviews read.
Reviews that sound fake, overly gushy, or are in broken English are bad signs that you may be dealing with sellers who don't have good scruples. So, be careful when you're cruising for more gadgetry.
Other reviewers warn you that the stuff they're selling are knock-offs.
Nothing quite stings as much as seeing some of the coolest electronic gadgets on sale online, only to see terrible reviews. One of the tips to help you recognize fake gadgets is to actually heed warnings about knock-offs, especially if they're sent out en masse.
Realistically, this should always be a warning. At best, you might be dealing with one of the worst tech flops of all time. At worst, you will get a knock-off, paired with a waste of time.
The product is on a site it shouldn't be on.
Do you honestly think that Groupon would get a deal with Versace? Probably not. Versace is known for burning old clothing it can't sell in order to keep the value up. Seeing Versace on Groupon, then, is likely indicative of a fake product.
The same can be said with other sites known for their exclusivity. For example, if you were to find one of the coolest Product Hunt gadgets exclusive to Amazon on LivingSocial, you should be worried. That product shouldn't be there, so whatever it is, it's probably not an official gadget from a top name brand.