THE REALITY OF FAKERY: It’s not only customers who are cheated

Author: Douglas Shachnow, CTC PATA-Florida co-chair, editor of THE CHAPTER
Posted: Fri 12 Feb, 2010 10:52 AM

One of the major attractions of travel to many Asian cities is the great shopping. Indeed, many travelers go there for no other purpose. With handbags, watches, jewelry, golf clubs, clothing, sports shoes, toys, and other licensed items all at bargain-basement prices, who can resist the temptation?

If many shoppers knew the whole story behind these fantastic prices, it might be a little easier to.

The truth is, as some correctly suspect, others know specifically, and yet others resolutely insist on ignoring, the prices are as unreal as some of the merchandise itself. The are, in a word, fakes.

To be more to the point, counterfeit. As fake, and as illegal, as money a criminal would try to print in his basement.

The entire merchandising of these goods sets shoppers up in a way they do not realize: as links in chains of underworld activity. Buyers, along with the people whose labor is effectively stolen  to produce the goods, are all victims. When shoppers are lured into of markets with stalls and stalls of irresistible buys of brand-name look-alikes, the money they spend falling for the ruse promotes things that would scandalize decent, law-abiding individuals.

One of the major abuses is the use of forced labor, typically victimizing society’s most vulnerable: women and children. Workplaces are often padlocked to prevent exit, making them inescapable fire traps. In other ways, the manufacture of some goods exposes them to hazardous materials and chemicals. And the hours are long, usually 13-17 hours a day. They are victims in every sense of the word, with no realistic prospect of leading normal lives.

On top of this, there exists yet another level of criminal activity in the kinds of activities these counterfeit operations support.  Mostly things like drug-trafficking, money-laundering, prostitution, and child pornography. These being only examples, we can be sure the imaginations of the less than pure in heart are always alert to  other opportunities for wrongdoing.

Now let’s talk about us as travel professionals. And your clients if you are an agent. While purchasing these goods by itself is not a crime, trafficking of stolen goods, which is what counterfeit merchandise is, is not victimless, even apart from the labor issues. When we buy -- or our clients buy -- any of these bogus items, we and our recipients are all victims. Victims when materials are hazardous or substandard, victims when he “designer” sunglasses don’t deliver the promised UV protection or shatter, victims simply being tricked into supporting criminal activity.

It’s common practice for us to suggest great shopping opportunities for our Asia-bound clients to enjoy. Sometimes, though, we have to wonder whether we do them, or ourselves, a great service when our suggestions ultimately have us all being seriously compromised.   

Comments

Author: MercedesDAY26
Posted: Wed 23 Jun, 2010 2:33 AM

Just for fun

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