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Beware! Counterfeit Electrical Books - Can You Spot The Fake?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 11th July 2014

So we recently reported on counterfeit electrical products and components. However last week in our centre we found that 3 members of a PAT Testing course had inadvertently bought counterfeit copies of the “Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment 4th Edition” book.

Not only is this bad in terms of taking money away from the industry that invests heavily in producing technical literature it can also have some very serious consequences in terms of safety.

How can this be I hear you ask? Well when the counterfeiters copy a book these days they don’t simply photo copy it. They actually use software to scan the book and reproduce it. However the software makes mistakes and sometimes letters and numbers are mis-interpreted or completely missing. Needless to say if you can’t rely on your book to give you the correct figures then you run the risk of getting something very wrong.

How to Spot A Counterfeit Book?

It is actually very very hard. These days the counterfeit books are look and feel almost exactly like the real thing. With the code of practice books we found that the counterfeit actually had brighter lighter colours but you wouldn’t know this unless you put two books together. 

Can you spot the fake below?

The only other way to tell if your book is not real is to spot a typo or two. If you see a word misspelled or a number or letter missing then you may realise that you have bought a dodgy copy. Looking at the image above the only real way to spot the fake is if you notice the the table numbers are different. The table number should be 15.3 but in the top version the number is 13.3. Also on the far right figure 15.1 text reads "CDamaged" below where it should simply read "Damaged". This is indicative of the type of errors you will find in a counterfeit book. The only other way to tell if your book is not real is to spot a typo or two. 

How to avoid buying a counterfeit book

It is simply a case of making sure that you have bought the book from a reputable establishment. If you are buying a book from ebay or somewhere similar then you really are taking a risk. We would advise buying books directly from the IET or Amazon. Two of the counterfeit books that were found in our centre were bought from Amazon Marketplace which essentially is a network of sellers selling new and second hand items. We recommend avoiding Amazon Marketplace for purchasing these books as it is really essential that you get an original copy.

We spoke with our friends at the IET about the books and they had said that this is a growing problem, however this is the first time they had come across counterfeit versions of this PAT testing book. As such we have arranged for these counterfeit books to be sent to the IET so they can hold copies for reference. We have been told by the IET that the problem was getting worse and that recently they found that 20% of the books on a course in a local college held by students turned out to be counterfeit. 

If you find you have a counterfeit copy of a book we would advise contacting the seller directly and demanding a refund.


Categories: books