We all love a bargain and we’ve all been tempted at times to purchase items that may not be all they seem. As a general rule of thumb if the price seems too good to be true, then chances are the item is just that, too good to be true.
But what does it really matter? Well, there are a number of different reasons why we should resist that bargain…
The short video (above) highlights only too clearly the difference between the genuine article and a copy. Ok it may only be a screen but going through one that shatters into shards of sharp plastic is never a good thing. If ever there was a clear example of why that bargain product should be avoided then this illustrates it clearly.
Another reason why by-passing those cheap alternatives is a good idea is because all products that are used in vehicles have to pass stringent tests and many go through years of research and development. This is to ensure that they are not only fit for purpose but also that the individual using them is safe in the knowledge that they will not come to any harm should a problem arise. That cheap gearbox component could mean the difference between you sliding down the middle of the road into the path of a juggernaut or your scooter running smoothly with no problems.
The choice is ultimately in your hands and just because it is cheap doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be cheerful in the long run.
Fake Vespa World Days badges
You then get the argument that not all cheap products make a difference to your health and safety and are merely trinkets or baubles of desire, e.g. the latest offering on eBay of a cog badge designed for Vespa World Days in Belfast.
Again here is a bargain offer and yes it is shiny and colourful and yes it isn’t going to affect how your scooter runs or cause any harm to the end user but buying one could affect future events. Remember that cheap copies of this product make it much harder for the genuine article to be sold. Often the club or individual trying to sell their genuine products are doing it to raise money to recoup their outlays for a putting on a big event.
Many will say that the items in question are copyrighted or trademarked and therefore if enough complaints are lodged with eBay they will remove the product. Unfortunately this is not the case and to copyright a design and apply for a trademark is not only time consuming and costly but there is also no guarantee that the item you are registering will be given carte blanche protection. It is a very complicated business and even if you manage to get your design safeguarded (see our tip about design protection later) the upkeep is very expensive and you then have register the item across the whole world and even then China or other Asian countries will ignore all these rules and regulations.
BMW, Rolex, Prada and many other high end products are all copyrighted and trademarked to the hilt and yet they are all copied illegally in China or the Far East and these companies spend millions fighting to preserve their intellectual properties. So for the smaller individual there is absolutely no chance of stopping this sort of theft and these illegally copied items can have a devastating effect.
Fake crash helmets
Crash helmets are an essential life saving piece of equipment and buying a good one is one of the wisest decisions you can make. As with anything that attracts a high price tag these are also copied, as are gloves, jackets, leathers and boots. A crash helmet is designed to absorb the impact of a crash, the tough outer shell shouldn’t deform or crack but the inner foam lining should compress to slow the movement of your delicate little brain as it tries turns to turn to mush when it decelerates after a heavy impact.
Many scooter riders are tempted by cheap and nasty helmets on rally campsites, or on internet auction sites. If you have a £30 head wear a £30 helmet. Just because it has a kite mark or ACU sticker doesn’t mean it’s been genuinely certified. These people can fake everything, you really think they can’t print a sticker as well? Our advice, buy a brand you recognise from a trusted seller in your home country. If in doubt don’t wear it, this item could save your life one day – or cost you it. Have a look at the video demonstrating the difference between a ‘proper’ helmet and a cheap and nasty one, scary stuff.
If you aren’t sure whether to purchase that item on eBay or not, don’t, it is better to be safe than sorry. Always try to buy your spares or accessories from the dealers that you know are genuine and the regular faces on stalls at the rallies or from ‘vouched’ for suppliers.
The power truly is with the buyer
Ripped off scooter products
Long range Vespa tanks
Following on from Kate’s story, recently I spotted a photograph I’d taken in June 2007 as part of a magazine feature about long-range Vespa fuel tanks. I’ve seen the photo in question many times since the original feature, after all I gave the tank designer (Dave Hampson) permission to use it but it wasn’t Dave I spotted using it on Facebook, which was strange. I contacted the seller who said he was selling them for Dave (so I didn’t mind the image being used). This was kind of true, he’d ordered a few from Dave but then got greedy and is now copying Dave’s design and using my old photo to sell them.
Dave’s tanks use a standard Vespa fuel tank that’s been elongated to fill the void beneath it; it also has a vacuum fuel pump beneath it. Our advice, if you see this kind of Vespa fuel tank being sold and it’s not by Big Dave Hampson steer clear. Use Dave’s Facebook if you want to buy the genuine thing: Big Dave
Diablo Tanks are well-known for their quality, the tanks fit, look the part and are available for various applications, with or without toolbox, they can have the carb cutout either side and are well made – as a fuel tank needs to be. John Walklate is the man in charge of the brand and he told us “There’s been a couple of attempts (to copy them) by people. The most blatant was by a trader on the Isle of Wight who then publicly slagged me and Diablo Tanks off when I called him out. He was quick to delete his ‘for sale’ post from his pages – showing the Diablo Tank that he’d used to copy from. People can’t grasp the legal consequence of an exact copy of a fuel tank, if the copy were to fail and Diablo Tanks was to be misidentified as the faulty product it would land me right in the proverbial. Here’s where to get Genuine Diablo Tanks
Custom fabricator, Adrian Newnham is another one to have his parts ripped off by others. His billet rear sets were copied a while ago and the copies actually sell for more than the originals. If you’re looking for some nice bespoke parts for your scooter, or rear sets Adrian can be found here.
Another scooterist who had his part-time business messed with is Didge from Classic Racks. His sprint style racks for the Vespa GTS were (and still are) very popular. Sadly another company in Austria bought one and copied it, although the quality isn’t as good as the ones Didge makes. The company started producing them in bulk and selling them cheaper than the real McCoy. Thanks to the loyalty of his customers Didge has adapted and survived but it still made a dent in his once thriving little business. The genuine article can be found here: Classic Racks
Fake scooter sales
eBay is one of the safer online auction sites but it still attracts plenty of scammers and chancers. We were alerted to this advert just yesterday by a reader from overseas. It shows an advert for a tidy Lambretta street racer for a less than believable price for sale in Switzerland.
As it happens I know the person who built this scooter in Manchester and the lad who bought it from him a few months ago so was able to alert the owner and get the advert pulled. The photos were taken from the previous owners Facebook post when he was selling it. Spoof adverts like this are a great way for people to find themselves ripped off.
We heard of one lad recently who paid £10,595 for a van on eBay. He received a Paypal link after he won the auction and paid directly. The link turned out to be quite a clever fake and Paypal had no details of the transaction. A very expensive mistake for the ‘buyer’. If you are paying for an item via Paypal be sure you’re logging in to your own account and pay using the sellers email address, at least then you have some protection. We’d also advise you only to pay a deposit rather than the full amount.
Facebook is another place where scooters and parts can often be found for sale, a few years ago one of my scooters was offered ‘for sale’ by somebody, using photos taken from my profile. It was apparently done as a joke to try and lure a club member (of the person who posted it) into ‘buying’ the cheap scooter but the timing wasn’t good. I’d gone on holiday that day and various friends saw it and jumped to my defence, knowing the sale wasn’t real. The person who posted it quickly took it down and their profile disappeared.
Use common sense
If you’re buying on Facebook (and it can be a good place to find bargains) be sure to check out the seller, don’t pay money up front without seeing the item and if it’s way too good to be true then don’t let greed or desire overshadow rational thinking. Unlike eBay there are no comebacks or protection when you’re buying from somebody on social media. Popular stolen scooters (and parts) like the Vespa GTS can often be seen popping up for sale at prices that are too cheap, or sometimes offering goods that don’t match the description. For instance I spotted a 2015 Vespa GTS ABS/ASR in a limited edition colour. The seller (who looked like a spotty little pretend gangster from London) said in the description “I sprayed this proffesionally myself and fitted the latest front suspension, ABS and clocks.” The advert said the scooter was a few years old, despite being obviously new and at the time there were only a handful in the country in that colour. Unluckily for him I also knew the person who had owned it for just seven hours before it was stolen from a locked underground car park beneath his apartment. On this occasion an arrest was made.
Protecting your design
Thanks to Andy Gillard for this little known but useful tip. For smaller production items that may have been designed as a sideline, going down the patent route is probably not an option but if something is useful and could be sold in enough numbers it could well be copied. A simple way to protect your design is to register it with the Government Design Right service. For just £50 you can protect your product for 15 years after it was designed, or 10 years after it was first sold (whichever is the soonest). Find out more at: Design Right
Imagine you work in a restaurant, you’ve spent time building the business up and have a signature dessert that is devoured by your regulars. It’s literally your bread and butter pudding. The recipe is carefully guarded but one day a disgruntled employee leaves and copies the recipe. He starts selling your signature dish from a dodgy snack wagon parked outside your restaurant. You’re not happy but his dish is cheaper, he has less overheads and he can make it in bulk. Your old regulars start buying it instead of yours. Your business and livelihood begins to suffer.
The moral of the story is to try and buy the genuine article, especially if the person who designed and built the part at his or her own expense is just like you, a road-going scooterist or enthusiast. At SLUK we’re all for innovation, after all we would hate to all be riding bog standard scooters but try and do the right thing when it comes to buying a part, or item developed by somebody off their own back.
If you do spot something that looks too good to be true, looks like a fake or could be a stolen item, or you think could be a scam advert don’t just ignore it. If it’s on eBay or Facebook make a complaint, if you think it’s stolen contact the police. If you’re tempted to buy it when you think it might be stolen or a rip off of somebodies work have a word with yourself and imagine yourself on the receiving end.