Honeywell finds major fake fridge problem in Middle East

Melting ice cubesA new survey from technology firm Honeywell has found that Saudi Arabians are concerned about potentially dangerous counterfeit refrigerants, which are increasingly found in the Middle East.

The prevalence of counterfeit refrigerants is increasing around the world and poses serious safety concerns.

In 2012, several containers carrying counterfeit refrigerants exploded, leading the United Nations Environment Programme to say that counterfeit refrigerants "appear to be a global issue of concern and a wider range of stakeholders are possibly at risk".

Honeywell, which stands to lose revenue from fake versions of its legitimate refrigeration products, conducted the survey as part of its ongoing campaign to fight counterfeiting.

It found that nine in 10 respondents believe there are counterfeit refrigerants fraudulently labeled as brand-name, authentic refrigerants sold in Saudi Arabia.

In addition, 98 per cent of respondents said they would prefer brand-name refrigerants sold by authorised dealers [such as Honeywell] if it would limit the risks posed by counterfeits, which can often be flammable, toxic and damaging to air conditioning and refrigeration systems.

Ipsos, a survey specialist company, working on behalf of Honeywell, surveyed 400 people by telephone in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam who own and operate one or more refrigerators or air conditioners for their home, office or vehicle. The survey found that:

  • 90 per cent of those surveyed in Saudi Arabia believe counterfeit refrigerants fraudulently labeled as brand-name, authentic refrigerants are sold in their country;
  • 98 per cent indicate they would prefer a brand-name refrigerant for their home, office, car or refrigerator if it would limit the risks posed by counterfeit refrigerants;
  • 88 per cent believe that counterfeit refrigerants can cause equipment failure more serious and costly than genuine brand name products; and
  • 64 per cent believe that counterfeit refrigerants can be toxic, and 75 per cent believe they can be flammable.

In 2013, Honeywell announced that local law enforcement in Saudi Arabia seized nearly 3,500 containers of counterfeit refrigerant being fraudulently sold under the Honeywell Genetron brand name.

"We would like to applaud the local law enforcement and other government authorities in Saudi Arabia for taking the issue of counterfeiting seriously and cooperating with the industry to protect safety of citizens," said Norm Gilsdorf, president of Honeywell Middle East, Russia and Central Asia.

"Their efforts have resulted in seizures of counterfeit refrigerants in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere around the world. We continue to introduce technology solutions to help combat this problem."

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