Golfbidder, the industry’s leading online retailer of pre-owned golf equipment has launched a free screening service to tackle counterfeit golf equipment fraud. As online shopping has grown in popularity, so has the sale of fake golf clubs, and an increasing number of golfers are being duped into buying imitation clubs at premium prices.
With the threat growing to a UK golf hardware market worth £275 million, Golfbidder has moved decisively to provide golfers with a safeguard against the counterfeiters.
Golfbidder’s new counterfeit screening service allows customers to verify equipment’s authenticity either before or after it is purchased. The service, which will be available to everyone including non-registered Golfbidder customers, invites concerned customers to send images of the products for Golfbidder experts to assess.
The imitation products, which span a number of premium golf brands including Callaway, TaylorMade and Titleist, can look alarmingly realistic. A recent Golfbidder survey based on 1,200 respondents revealed that when presented with images of two identical-looking Callaway drivers and Scotty Cameron putters, less than half of the respondents were able to spot the fake (48% correctly identified the genuine Callaway X460, 49% the Scotty Cameron putter). Of respondents, more than 30% knew someone who had been cheated into buying counterfeit clubs.
Neil Howie, vice chairman the British Golf Industry Association and managing director of Callaway Golf Europe welcomed the new Golfbidder service saying, “Despite efforts by government agencies and many of the golf industry’s principal equipment manufacturers to protect the golfing public from counterfeit golf clubs, the problem continues to grow.
“In particular, there has been a significant increase of counterfeit clubs offered on Internet auction sites and web sites, resulting in many consumers being defrauded. We welcome the Golfbidder initiative as a means that consumers can avail themselves of to protect themselves from unscrupulous persons who introduce these inferior products into the marketplace.”
Managing director of Golfbidder, Liam Robb commented, “Often when people buy imitation products such as handbags or watches, they know they are buying fakes because it is reflected in the price. Golf products however, are very much harder to detect as they are being sold at the same price as genuine clubs.”
Aesthetically, the differences can be very subtle such as the shade of a logo or the step pattern of an inferior steel shaft. But hit a counterfeit club, especially after a real one, and the difference is clear. The quality of materials used in the heads and shafts is vastly inferior to real clubs resulting in poor, inaccurate performance and a very disappointed buyer.
Robb continued, “Prior to being sold on Golfbidder, each product undertakes a thorough screening process by our team of trained PGA qualified experts who know exactly what to look out for. By extending the same service to a wider audience and working in conjunction with the golf manufacturers, we hope to benefit the whole golf industry.”
Ruth Orchard, director-general of the Anti-Counterfeiting Group commented, “The trade in fakes on the Internet is the most serious threat facing legitimate business and consumers today. A survey of our members has found that up to 90% of their products for sale in eBay auctions are routinely identified as fake. But monitoring and take-down only address the tip of the iceberg. The online counterfeits problem is global and is estimated at nearly $90billion p.a. Anything which assists brand owners to combat this challenge is very welcome.”