The import of counterfeit golf equipment, generally from China, has become a huge business. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it has seized over half a million dollars’ worth of illegal clubs so far this year – that does not include the items they did not catch.
In a press release the U.S. Customs Department said, “Seizures of counterfeit golf clubs has increased by 37 percent from 2012 to 2014.” Many counterfeit clubs look very similar to the real thing but that is only on the surface. They don’t perform at all and generally break or crack because of the inferior materials and craftsmanship.
People buying clubs online are at a disadvantage. As an authorized retailer I can compare a club with others to help determine whether it’s the real thing. At Golf Rx during the past five years I have had dozens of counterfeit drivers and iron sets brought in. The customers said the clubs were not performing as they thought they should. After carefully inspecting the clubs, or sometimes checking the serial numbers I had to give them the unfortunate news that they had been scammed.
Here are some steps I recommend to avoid being scammed and losing hundreds of dollars.
1. Purchase from authorized retailers and dealers. You can visit a brands website for a list of authorized dealers.
2. Be wary of any internet retailer that offers what is claimed to be a “new” product that is exceptionally lower than the normal retail price for that product. If it is too good to be true it generally is.
3. Be wary of internet sites that fail to provide reasonable contact information, or that ship product from a faraway location.
4. Carefully research the money-back policies, and return policies if not satisfied with the product.
5. Request references. Any legitimate retailer will be happy to oblige.
6. Counterfeiters often use the trick of displaying a photo of a genuine product on their website, but ship buyers something entirely different. The only way to avoid these traps is to buy from an authorized retailer.
7. If you purchased what you later determine to be a counterfeit product make sure to report the seller to the appropriate authorities.