Dyson counterfeit operation busted in China

Two facilities manufacturing counterfeit Dyson electrical goods have been raided in Shanghai, China, leading to 36 arrests.

The raids on the two facilities – both operated by what was ostensibly a legitimate import and trading business – resulted in the seizure of around 400 counterfeit Dyson Supersonic hairdryers, 1,500 half-finished units, and around 200,000 components used in their production, according to Shanghai police.

The seized units looked almost identical to authentic Dyson hairdryers on cursory inspection – unsurprising as the owners of the company procured originals and then hired technicians to dismantle and copy them using inferior parts. The authorities said that the fakes posed a fire risk and could harm hair.

Original hairdryers made by the UK company typically retail for around £300 (around $380), but the fakes were being sold at 10 to 50 per cent below that price through various online retail outlets. The scam came to the attention of police after customers complained about the low-quality copies.

The knock-offs were sold at 120 yuan each to wholesalers and retailers, and then retailed for between 2,200 and 2,300 yuan as "discounted products" or "European version" products on online shopping platforms, according to a China Daily report. Genuine Dyson hairdryers sell in China for around 3,000 yuan.

“The knock-offs are slightly different from the real products in material quality and colour, but are obviously different in the working mechanism, air volume and sound after the machines are turned on,” it says, citing Yu Songbin, an officer with the economic crime unit of Pudong police.

The company ran component procurement, production, storage and logistics, as well as operating wholesale and retail businesses, and is estimated to have made at least $1.5m from the illicit activity.

Police suspect the success with Dyson hairdryers meant that the company – which was set up originally to make and sell its own-brand products but failed to make a successful business that way – was poised to start copying other Dyson products including hair curlers and vacuum cleaners.

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