by Catherine McBreen
Last week China reportedly arrested hundreds of people for selling and/or making reproductions of various goods and then exporting them or selling them as “genuine”. In particular, they identified pills that were filled with sawdust and wheat grass and sold under a brand name as some type of prescription medicine.
I have to admit a moment of guilt passed over me when I realized how severe some of the fraud could be. In my mind, most of the fake goods were knock offs of designer brand purses, not medication relied upon by people with true illnesses.
One of my family members lived in China for several years and I went to visit on a couple of occasions. While there I learned the ins and outs of the markets. We even went on one of those visits where you call a phone number, meet someone on a street corner, and then follow them down an alley through a non-descript door full of “good” purses. The “good” purses, as opposed to the others, generally sold for between $60-$100, depending on how well you negotiate, as opposed to the others which went for $5-$10.
As the risk of incriminating myself, over the years I ended up with some of those purses. I could never have afforded the originals and they were very nice looking….but you got what you paid for. The $5-$10 dollar purses lasted about 2-3 weeks and then something broke. The others lasted for a decent amount of time.
Today whenever I see someone carrying a brand name purse, I am always suspicious. Once I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase one of the “real” brand name purses in Paris. It was a special anniversary gift and a “lifetime” purchase…meaning I will have this purse for the rest of my life…and maybe one of my daughters will want it some day. So how can so many people, in the midst of a recession be carrying these “brand name” purses? Are people really shelling out thousands of dollars for a purse or are all of these knock-offs?
I have heard that the French authorities stop individuals in airports that are carrying fake purses and arrest them. In retrospect, that is probably more than fair. While purses don’t seem as important as drugs, there are individuals that spend their lifetimes selling and manufacturing these purses. The quality is much higher than the knock-offs. Every time we buy a knock off purse or other product, we are hurting those individuals who work very hard to make high quality products.
It is a good thing that the Chinese are finally deciding to prosecute these individuals who are committing fraud. We should all take a stand and not perpetuate the crimes any further. It may hurt our pocketbooks or our pride…or our fashion sense?...but sometimes you just need to do the right thing.