Hayley Matthews: I'm genuinely worried about buying fake toys

It's now less than 100 days to Christmas, 94 to be precise, and my busy list starts now! I have many birthdays in December, one a few days before, two on Christmas Day itself and the tug-of-war over who does what, where, when, why and how.

Friday, 22nd September 2017, 7:00 am
Up to one million Rubiks Cubes are faked every year

It’s a very fun, but very busy, time in my house and because it is such a busy time for us, the Christmas shopping and deal searching starts now.

My partner always likes to buy online and get things cheaper (don’t hold it against him, he’s tight with the pennies, but it balances out my open-handedness) and we do try and find good deals.

However, recently I’ve become more sceptical, especially when buying toys and gadgets for children. I had my eyes opened recently to how dangerous fake goods can be when a fake fidget spinner fell to pieces and after researching the topic, watching several programmes and reading about fake toys, I’m almost scared to buy anything now.

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They can be hard to spot because you’d think you’re OK if you see the CE sign but rogue traders have it all down to a fine art when it comes to looking genuine.

Fake toys are a huge danger to children as access to batteries and small sharp plastics are a common occurrence. They also have a huge impact on the entire toy industry. With up to one million Rubik’s Cubes faked every year this is a serious problem for those producing and those purchasing.

Despite the best efforts of Customs and investigators, counterfeit toys do get sold to innocent consumers, leaving us with poor quality products, missing components in fake electrical goods and putting us and our children at risk of electric shock.

One of the simplest ways to know if a product is fake is to look for a typo, or misbranding, on the packaging, looking for differences in colouring or other distinctive features that may be slightly different, and compare some pictures of the genuine products to the one at half the price.

Generally, if you are shopping at a trusted retailer or big toy store then you will get some peace of mind knowing that a reputable company is standing behind the product you buy. You’re unlikely to get the same cut-price deal, but with peace of mind comes a cost. Just remember that if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

Gone are the days when I’d buy a really cheap toy online. I always think twice now before making a purchase, especially if I’m online or on eBay. If a deal is too good, there will be a catch.

This is the time of year that fake goods are rife, rogue traders cashing in on those looking for good deals ahead of the festive season but please, don’t put you or your family at risk of danger to save some pennies. I understand full well the pressures of buying the latest “must have” toys for our kids (the numerous adverts inbetween cartoons drive me mad too) but please, don’t scrimp. As they say, “buy cheap – pay twice!”.

If you think you have been sold counterfeit goods, or if you suspect somebody is selling fake goods, then here’s what to do: Contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 for advice. You can also visit Citizens Advice consumer service and your local Trading Standards office can help too.