Taking on the counterfeiters
Since the launch of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) Crime and Enforcement Report 2018 -2019, the already high level of interest and concern about counterfeit replacement vehicle parts has become even greater.
The problem is complicated further by the increase in the number of customer supplied parts that independent workshops are being asked to fit and the difficulty they face in determining their origin. Amid this gloom there is however some light, as TecAlliance has developed a solution.
"Following its release, both the Independent Garage Association (IGA) and the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) have subsequently issued statements regarding the report's findings and this has similarly raised the debate among independent workshops via social media," said TecAlliance regional sales director CEE, GB/IE, Shaun Greasley.
"The primary messages from the IGA and IAAF have been the facts that counterfeit parts have a detrimental effect on the entire independent aftermarket, with both original equipment manufacturers and legitimate aftermarket brands taking the financial and reputational hits that sub-standard quality parts impart, as well as the obvious safety issues faced by the wider community.
"When it comes to workshop owners, they agree that the practice of customers supplying the parts is on the rise, which they concede leads to the question of who carries responsibility should the part fail and if their public liability insurance would subsequently become invalid.
"Some take the view that the risk is simply too great and just refuse to fit any parts not sourced by themselves, others take a more pragmatic view and make the decision on whether to fit the parts on their opinion of the brand. All however acknowledge that the desire of motorists to minimise their motoring costs and the growth in internet shopping, have combined to create a problem that without government legislation, is almost impossible to resolve.
"Although as consumers there is a natural desire by everyone to save money in whatever area we are making our purchases and that includes the right to choose the brand of replacement vehicle parts, irrespective of its place in the market, fundamentally, the counterfeit issue comes down to whether the product we buy is actually the brand we selected."
Around a decade ago TecAlliance introduced the Manufacturers Against Product Piracy (MAPP) initiative through which, leading brand automotive parts suppliers have since been working closely and, to distinguish genuine from counterfeit parts, many participants of the initiative now mark their products with a data matrix barcode, based on the coding recommendation worked out by the European parts manufacturer association, CLEPA.