By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
There is a persistent problem that is plaguing the online marketplace for filmmakers and photographers alike, and that is the widespread infection of counterfeit memory cards. Not only are they appearing on eBay, where one would expect to see them, but also Amazon, and other online e-commerce sites we thought we could trust. And they’re so convincing, you may not know you’ve been had. But look closely, the devil is in the details.
Often, the so-called “counterfeit” memory cards are cards that have failed quality control tests for benchmark standards. Normally, if the failure is within a certain range, the cards are sold to third party sellers and off brands. But bogus cards have also appeared, and they almost instantly give a card reading error when inserted into your camera.
Counterfeits affect just about any top brand of memory cards, but it seems that SanDisk is the most popular target. So we’ll focus on this brand. There are a few giveaways that may show if you’ve received a counterfeit SanDisk card. Pick up one of your other SanDisk cards and compare them side by side. First, look at the locking tab on the left. This is the tab that prevents the card from being written to. If the tab is yellow, or another color other than the gray that SanDisk uses, then you know it’s not genuine.
Secondly, look for disparities in the font used on the label. The first thing that should jump out is the difference in the numbers for the size of the card itself. The size may be larger, the justification will be off, and even the tone of the font color will look different. The same will be true for the counterfeit writing of SanDisk Extreme PRO. It’s VERY subtle here. But you can tell the difference.
Next, you may notice a small asterix missing from the “95/MB/s*” rating. This asterix is to signify that the card doesn’t go up to 95MB/S for both reading and writing. This is SanDisk’s legal disclaimer that the card has different speeds for different activities.
Now flip the card over. A genuine SanDisk card will have a serial number, while the counterfeit does not. That’s a dead giveaway. But the data pins on the back of the card will also be misaligned. You can also test your card to see if it’s legit. There is an app called H2TestW which will verify the specs advertised on your SD card. You can also try to register your product on SanDisk’s website here. If it doesn’t register, that’s a sure sign you’ve got a counterfeit card.
How can Amazon let such things slip through? Well, many resellers on Amazon use the portal to sell in exchange for kicking back to Amazon a piece of the pie. They will handle all the shipping, and all Amazon does is provide the portal. In this case, users who find they’ve been bit by a counterfeit will likely find it impossible to secure a refund. In this case, once the 3rd party seller receives enough complaints, Amazon will ban them. But the money is gone, and it’s likely the seller will just pop up again under another name.
Shops where fulfillment is done by Amazon itself is another matter. These are so-called drop shippers, who handle the orders, but Amazon sends out the product. In this case, Amazon will process a refund quickly. As for eBay, the problem is even more rampant. To make matters worse, even eBay’s own online literature on counterfeits states that they will take no action unless the trademark owner (SanDisk) contacts them directly. If in doubt, read eBay’s tech note on how to spot a fake SanDisk SD card here.
It’s not really practical to expect Amazon to inspect all third party packages, so it’s best to pay close attention to what you’re ordering and if it’s coming from a 3rd party, then avoid it altogether. Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when buying anything online:
- Buy from authorised SanDisk resellers. B&H is always the best option. But Adorama is another.
- Amazon is OK if you sure your order is fulfilled by Amazon and not a 3rd party seller. And it will always say so.
- Avoid eBay
- Keep a copy of all communications between yourself and the seller, just in case
- Pay with a credit card or through a service like PayPal, who’s fraud policy ensures your refund
As stated, SanDisk isn’t the only victim of counterfeiting. A bogus card can be any brand. So, as always, when shopping online, the latin phrase “caveat emptor” should be followed. LET THE BUYER BEWARE. And be less eager to go for the bargain price. It’s much better to go with a reputable dealer instead.
Hat Tip – DIY Photography