Consumer Trends  

Top retail scams of the noughties

Now that the holiday season is upon us Retail Digital revisits some of the most popular stories of 2011
 Beware of shopping scams


Fake Apple stores in China

China has a long history of producing counterfeit consumer gadgets, luxury clothes and branded merchandise. Now the problem of counterfeit goods has reached a new level with the discovery of five fake Apple stores in the southern city of Kunming.

The counterfeit stores have the right fittings, artwork and signs advertising the latest Apple gadgets. The copy-cat stores are so convincing that even the employees believe they are working for Apple

 It is still unclear if these unauthorised Apple stores have been selling genuine Apple products or not. Apple has been alerted to the existence of these fake stores but has refused to comment.

Chinese government officials have already closed down two of these stores and are currently investigating the others.         

Power Balance Bracelet

Power Balance Bracelets were a popular fad last year. The £29.99 accessories were a favourite among celebrities and sports personalities including David Beckham, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Kate Middleton and rapper P Diddy, to name but a few.

The maker of the sports wristband, Power Balance Australia, claimed its bracelet’s improved the body’s energy flow and boost strength, balance and flexibility. However, these bracelets were exposed as a sham.

The company sparked outrage earlier this year when it admitted that there was no evidence to back up some of the bracelet’s claimed benefits.

Power Balance Australia was forced to acknowledge that the bracelets were no more beneficial than a rubber band and issued angry customers with a refund.   

Online counterfeits

With the growing popularity of internet and mobile shopping, consumers are at increased risk of identity theft and other online retail scams. There are a host of bogus websites that prey on consumers looking to nab a bargain.

Research shows that fake luxury brand websites attract over 120 million visits a year. These websites are often run by organised gangs and will take a customer’s payment and personal details.

Consumers are tricked into buying counterfeit goods ranging from designer clothes and gadgets to electronic appliances. Sometimes they receive nothing. It is estimated that over £82 billion is being spent online on counterfeit products a year and it is a growing problem.   

Olympics ticket scam

Tickets for major sporting events, concerts and festivals are always in high demand. There are a growing number of websites on the internet claiming to sell such tickets and scamming people out of millions of pounds.

Two ticket touts were jailed earlier this month for masterminding a £5 million Beijing Olympics ticket fraud through their company Xclusive. The scam fooled more than 10,000 customers into paying up to 48 times the price of Beijing Olympics tickets.

The company claimed to specialise in supplying hard-to-get tickets to sold-out events. It was also involved in the sale of £1 million of tickets to various sporting events including football and rugby matches as well as pop concerts and events at the O2.

The company accepted payment for these tickets and provided customers with nothing in return. As a result, thousands of customers lost a total of £6 million to Xclusive.  

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