Bad news continues for Nikon users like a trail of bread crumbs. And while this latest black eye isn’t the fault of the camera manufacturer, it is cause for concern as B&H has sent out messages to customers that it has been discovered counterfeit Nikon batteries were sold by the retailer.
“It has come to our attention that we unfortunately received a subpar batch of Nikon EN-EL15b rechargeable lithium-ion batteries,” B&H wrote in an email to affected customers. “Since it is impossible for us to ascertain which of our customers received from the affected batch, we will be replacing all of these batteries sent to our customers regardless of which battery they might have received.”
The battery recall by B&H came after Nikon informed the retailer of customer complaints about individual Nikon batteries being defective. After a series of investigations, both companies determined that the batteries were indeed counterfeit. The suspect batteries purchased from B&H by customers include rechargeable lithium batteries models: EN-EL15b, EN-EL11, EN-EL10, EN-EL9a, EN-EL9, EN-EL8, EN-EL5, EN-EL3e, EN-EL3, EN-EL2, and EN-EL1.
“Counterfeit products may not be equipped with safety mechanisms such as the built in protection device. When these counterfeit products are used or charged, camera performance may be sacrificed, or the products may be the cause of fire or explosion due to the generation of extreme heat or leakage.” – Nikon said in a statement
This isn’t like fake SD cards, where users may end up with a smaller storage capacity than advertised, or end up losing data when the card corruption. This is a serious safety issue. The major concern is that fake batteries don’t have the circuitry which shuts down the charging process once a battery has reached full capacity. The result is that a battery can overcharge, overheat, catch fire and maybe even explode. “In the worst cases, people may be burned or otherwise injured,” Nikon adds, “and of course cameras or battery chargers may be damaged.”
To determine if a battery is counterfeit, the devil is often in the details. Counterfeit versions often add more information on a battery pack that is included on the real McCoy. For instance, on a fake EN-EL15b, counterfeit batteries will put the model number on the front of the battery, while the real deal merely puts it on the information plate in the back. There also inconsistencies in the font use to print such information on the fake battery. See the images below:
Nikon has directed customers to a support page where they can determine if the batteries they have purchased are part of the bad batch. “Concerned users can find a guide for determining if the battery they have purchased is a genuine Nikon battery at this link,” Nikon said in a statement. You can also see a gallery of counterfeit batteries from all affected models, to determine if you have been stuck with a fake.
And B&H is offering free replacements of ALL batteries, regardless of condition, as they state it may not be possible to determine if your battery is the real deal or not. They advise all Nikon users to contact them immediately to arrange an RMA replacement.
Counterfeit batteries showing up at a reputable dealer like B&H shows just how prevalent the counterfeit battery market is. It wasn’t uncommon to see these “subpar batteries,” as the retailer called them, show up on eBay, or even Amazon, where anyone can set up an e-commerce retail account to sell their wares. But for fake batteries to show up at B&H is indeed pretty shocking, and calls into question the legitimacy of supply lines to authorized dealers.