The good old interweb has worked wonders for making the world a
smaller place, unfortunately, it's also made it easier for the
fast-buck merchants to pass off counterfeit goods as the genuine
article, particularly on e-Bay.
One of the companies worst affected by the problem is US brand The
North Face. The problem has got so bad that the brand now employs a
specialist team to investigate counterfeited TNF products throughout
the world and, where appropriate, TNF cooperates with trading
standards authorities and in some cases, the police.
TNF UK's Keith Byrne's advice to anyone who wants to be sure that
they're buying genuine TNF goods is to purchase only from an
authorised stockist either online or at a store. "If you buy from an
unauthorised third party," he says. "Then you are always going to
leave open the option that you may be being offered a counterfeit
product. If anyone is ever in doubt then they can always call our
office in Kendal to check on authorised stockists."
Some eBay purcahsers, we assume, hope that what they're buying may
be genuine TNF kit, somehow syphoned off from production facilities
in the Far East, however this is almost never the case and one of the
problems with buying online is that you can't examine the goods until
you've handed over your money.
Doers this look real to
you? This jacket simply
doesn't exist as an authentic TNF product. See
So how do you ensure that you don't buy counterfeit TNF? The first
and most obvious consideration is that if it seems too good to be
true, then it probably is. Bear in mind that there are factories out
there churning out swing tags and badges which look authentic enough,
particularly in photos.
That inside label says
'waterproof and breathable'
under the logo. Genuine TNF doesn't do that.
The most obvious pointer, says Byrne, is that most counterfeit
jackets have a label inside claiming that the jacket is 'Waterproof
and Breathable'. Genuine TNF jackets use the swing tags to do that
for them and simply have a straightforward TNF logo inside the
jacket. It took us just a couple of minutes on eBay to find a
'genuine' TNF Gore-Tex jacket with just such a label visible in the
There are plenty of other pointer, what, for example, do you make
of colour schemes and designs that don't officially exist? If you
need any more pointers, then check out The
North Face Guru web site, set up by a ripped off American
consumer and containing some useful pointers and comparison shots of
fake and real TNF gear. And of course, there's no guarantee that the
jacket in the photos, is the one which will be supplied.
Unfortunately it's not always easy to tell from an online photo,
so our advice is simple and straightforward - if it seems too good to
be true, then it probably is. Leave well alone.