Do you think you could spot a fake online? Not every seller is as trustworthy as A1 Sporting Memorabilia, so if you’re thinking of shopping around, make sure you protect yourself by following a few simple steps.
According to consumer advice organisation Which?, the fake goods industry in the UK is worth £10 billion, and a lot of these goods are sold online. And it’s not only signed celebrity products that are often faked – anything, from designer bags to online dating profiles to actual websites can be far from genuine.
Terry and Freda Baker, Founders and Managing Directors of A1 Sporting Memorabilia, have more than 14 years experience of selling authentic signed goods online. “Every single item that A1 Sporting Memorabilia sells is 100% genuine and we go a long way to prove this – we strive to take photos of celebrities signing our goods, attend every organised signing session, and put our name to each and every item.
“And why not? We are passionate about what we do and as a result have built a hugely successful company – it’s a win-win situation for both us and our customers. However, unfortunately there are always a few who spoil it for others, so we hope that by providing such a quality, genuine service, we can help put them out of operation.”
Fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated with their cloning techniques and it is often hard to tell a genuine article from its fake counterpart. However, there are a number of steps you can take to help ensure you have the best possible chance of spotting a forgery.
Firstly, try to buy from legitimate sellers, such as A1 Sporting Memorabilia. A sophisticated website is not always enough, it is always best to check the legitimacy of a company by looking at its contact details. Does it have a contactable UK-based address? Is there a phone number you can ring to contact them? Although a company’s web address may end in .uk, it could still be based outside of the UK – and therefore not only difficult to address any problems with them should things go wrong, but also operating outside of UK law.
Make sure you also examine a company’s payment options. Even nowadays, some dishonest sites are cash-only and that is when warning bells should sound! Try to use sites that operate a secure payment system – look for the padlock symbol at the bottom of the page when you fill in your payment details.
If you are buying from an online auction site such as eBay, look at the seller’s feedback to find out how satisfied their previous customers were with their items. And if you do fall victim to a dishonest seller, alert the auction site as well as leaving warning feedback for the benefit of other buyers.
Consider recommendations from friends and family. If they have had a good experience buying online, then chances are you will too. Lots of companies rely on word-of-mouth marketing as this has often proved to be a far more effective way of recruiting new buyers than any other marketing option – in retail, trust is everything. Customer testimonials are also worth looking at, although it is wise to treat these with caution as they may not be as genuine as they appear.
Secondly, research your market. This is hugely important. If you don’t know what the genuine article looks like, then you have little chance of spotting a fake. Look for little details on both the product and the company website, such as misspelled labels and poor-quality logos – tell-tale signs that an item isn’t genuine.
Finally, ask, ask, ask. A legitimate company will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Not only does this benefit you, but it is also easier for the company – it is far easier for them to retain an interested or existing customer than to recruit a new buyer. If you’ve followed these tips, you should already be aware of the existence of any customer service team. Why not give them a ring? Ask questions about the product, the company and their policies – an unlawful company is not likely to have an after-sales service in place and unlikely to offer any product guarantees, so don’t give them your business!
A1 Sporting Memorabilia’s Terry Baker added: “We always welcome questions from our customers. We know exactly where and when every one of our items was signed – this may not seem unusual, but I know of organisations where staff members pose as fans at training grounds to collect signed goods without the player, or his chosen charity, benefiting from the proceeds.
“As there can be no marketplace without these sports stars, we consider it more than fair to pay them for their signatures – and our valued customers agree.”
While it is impossible to spot the fakes 100% of the time, it’s safe to say that the age-old adage always rings true – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Why risk buying a forgery to save a few pounds? The genuine article is always worth its weight in gold.
Why you can trust the authenticity of A1 Sporting Memorabilia products:
- We organise official signing sessions.
- We aim to take photos of every sporting star as they sign our goods.
- Each of our items comes with an accompanying authenticity certificate, signed by the Managing Directors of A1 Sporting Memorabilia.
- We have a dedicated customer service team to answer any query you may have.
- A1 Sporting Memorabilia is often approached by the media to comment on signed sporting memorabilia issues – including how to spot authentic goods!