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Andy Clough's picture
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How to avoid buying fake headphones

We've teamed up with the UK headphone industry to put together a consumer guide on how to avoid buying fake and grey import headphones:

1) Buy Only From Authorised Online Dealers
Purchase only from authorised online dealers, which ensures you will receive a genuine product and receive high levels of pre and post sales service.

When you buy from an authorised dealer, whether at a shop or online, you can be sure you're buying a genuine, factory-new product. Authorised dealers will have access to the latest product knowledge and be able to offer a full warranty service in the event of problems.
See the list of manufacturers below for lists of authorised dealers.

2) Buying Safely From Amazon, eBay, Playtrade, etc.
While Amazon themselves are an authorised online dealer of many headphones brands, many resellers who sell through Amazon are not. When purchasing, it is important to note where the product is being "shipped from and sold by," which is stated clearly in the header for each product on Amazon.

Many resellers on eBay selling headphone products are not authorised dealers, but instead are individuals or traders who do not provide the level of before and after sales support that is expected by headphone manufacturers.

3) If In Doubt Ask
If you are in any doubt about the retailer you are considering purchasing from please check the manufacturer links below.  If you are still uncertain contact the manufacturer directly to check before you purchase.

4) Understand The Risks
If you purchase headphones from an unauthorised online reseller you risk the possibility of receiving faulty, fake or even stolen goods with little hope of obtaining warranty support in the event that the product develops a fault.

Unfortunately, headphone products are sometimes sold by companies that are not authorised dealers.  Goods sold by these unauthorised companies may come from a variety of sources, including:
• Purchased via a grey secondary market (often from outside Europe that will not have warranty cover).
• Fake goods not produced by the manufacturer.
• Damaged, defective or so-called “B” grade stock.
• Stolen goods.

Many of these unauthorised resellers list products via Amazon Marketplace, eBay and similar sales outlets, but there are also more established retail stores who obtain stock via these unauthorised channels.

Due to the nature of the goods sold by unauthorised resellers and their business practices, it is very unlikely that a manufacturer will offer warranty support for products purchased from these sales outlets.

In many cases unauthorised resellers frequently change names, website addresses and locations to avoid dealing with customer problems.
If you suspect that a reseller is not authorised to sell a manufacturers products consult the manufacturers authorised dealer lists or contact the manufacturer directly for confirmation before purchase.

5) Where To Buy Headphones Safely Online
Before purchasing a pair of headphones online it’s strongly recommended that you check that you are purchasing from an authorised online dealer.
Below is a list of links to manufacturers' UK authorised online dealers, as well as blacklists of unauthorised dealers:

Audio-Technica
Lists supplied by: Audio-Technica Europe

Authorised Dealers
http://eu.audio-technica.com/en/contact/buy.asp

http://www.henleydesigns.co.uk/dealer_results.asp?County=&Brand=39

In addition, Audio-Technica strongly advises customers against buying from eBay, or from any website where the price appears unusually low.

Beyerdynamic
Authorised Online Dealers
TBC

Denon
Authorised Online Dealers
TBC

Etymotic
Authorised Online Dealer list
http://www.etymotic.com/dealerlocator/

Unauthorised Online Dealer list
http://www.etymotic.com/dealer/unauthorized.html

FiiO
List supplied by: James Zhong (Director of International Sales)

Authorised Online Dealers
http://www.fiio.com.cn/where/index.aspx

Unauthorised Online Dealers
iheadphones.co.uk
iheadphones (via Amazon)
mymemory (via Amazon)
shwelone (via Amazon)

Grado
Authorised Dealers
http://www.grado.co.uk/where-to-buy-grado-headphones.htm

Jaybird
Authorised Online Dealers

5050.ie – http://www.5050.ie
Advanced MP3 Players – http://www.advancedmp3players.co.uk
Advanced Headphones – http://www.advancedheadphones.co.uk
Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk
BestBuy – http://www.bestbuy.co.uk
BestDigitalMarket – http://www.bestdigitalmarket.com
Comet – http://www.comet.co.uk
Dixons – http://www.dixons.co.uk
Gum Mobile – http://www.gummobile.com
Harrods – http://www.harrods.com
HiFi Headphones – http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk
Home & Office Innovations – http://haoi.co.uk
Instock Direct – http://www.instockdirect.com
Play.com – http://www.play.com
The MP3 Company – http://www.themp3company.co.uk

Phonak
Authorised Online Dealers
http://www.audeoworld.com/en/GB/Wheretobuy/WheretoBuy.htm

Shure
List supplied by: Shure UK

Authorised Online Dealers
If you come across a dealer selling Shure earphones, headphones or microphones and you are not sure whether they are authorised or not, refer to the below link, or call 01992 703058 for clarification.

http://www.shure.co.uk/meta_en/where_to_buy/dealer_locator

Unauthorised Online Dealers
Shure UK would advise you NOT to purchase from these companies:

4gadget.co.uk
accessoryjack.com
coolmart.co.uk
eeepcssd.com
hammerjack.co.uk
iheadphones.co.uk
simplyelectronics.net

The following websites are known resellers of fake Shure products:

kingspecssd.com

Shure UK would also advise against buying from any company where the price seems unusually low.

SoundMAGIC
List supplied by: Michael Lin (SoundMAGIC International Sales Manager)

Authorised Online Dealers
Advanced MP3 Players – http://www.advancedmp3players.co.uk
Advanced Headphones – http://www.advancedheadphones.co.uk
Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk
Audio Out – http://www.audioout.co.uk
HiFi Headphones – http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk
The MP3 Company – http://www.themp3company.co.uk
The Headphone Company – http://www.theheadphonecompany.co.uk

Unauthorised Online Dealers
The following websites are non-authorised re-sellers of SoundMagic headphones and SoundMagic strongly recommends European customers do NOT purchase from these stores:

bargainpile.net
iheadphones.co.uk
redhotgadget.com
iheadphones (via Amazon)
in2digital (via Amazon)
market monkey (via Amazon)
onlyheadphones (via Amazon)
shwelone (via Amazon)

 

TFTA

List supplied by RMXDirect

Online dealers:

Direct from TFTA - http://www.TFTA.eu

RMXdirectGB (via Amazon.co.uk or eBay.co.uk)

 

Updated 21st February 2012

Editor-in-Chief of What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision and whathifi.com

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RE: How to avoid buying fake headphones

Hi

I recently bought a pair of audio technica ATH -W1000x from accessoryjack one of the 'dont buy from' retailers mentioned above. After receiving them I checked with a very helpful Audio Technica person in Hong Kong who confirmed that the serial numbers were those of a genuine audio technica products. He also said that they were unaware of there being fake ATH-w1000 around.

The headphones sound good to me so far - although having said that I would really value knowing whether they are fakes, does anyone know if audio technica would assess them for me?

Bryan

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RE: How to avoid buying fake headphones

Thanks Andy.

This will be useful for people when looking for headphones, and avoid buying fakes. I've been careful with fakes as well, and it takes time to find a list of authorized retailers. This is what i was looking for.  :clap:

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.

This is a great idea thanks, but being a dummy didn't realise until now you could reply to a "Sticky"! *duh*

Think you'll be fitting in AKG sometime? I have previously read elsewhere of some problems with (possibly) fake 701/2's.

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RE: How to avoid buying fake headphones

bryanl01 wrote:

Hi

I recently bought a pair of audio technica ATH -W1000x from accessoryjack one of the 'dont buy from' retailers mentioned above. After receiving them I checked with a very helpful Audio Technica person in Hong Kong who confirmed that the serial numbers were those of a genuine audio technica products. He also said that they were unaware of there being fake ATH-w1000 around.

The headphones sound good to me so far - although having said that I would really value knowing whether they are fakes, does anyone know if audio technica would assess them for me?

Bryan

It doesn't mean that they are fake just because you purchased them from a company on that list, it just means that they are not an authorized retailer. The headphones have probably been sourced from a cheaper market and sold here without the price fixing of the manufacturer. It simply means that if you have a problem with them they won't be covered under manufacturers warranty. If the manufacturer's wanted to stop this they could always stop ripping people in Britain off and charge them the same as everyone else in the world......Hey Grado are you listening.

I have sympathy with the manufacturers with regards to the copious amounts of fakes coming predominantly from China though. The problem is that the western world has abandoned manufacturing and China has become the number one in this area. Western manufacturers can't sell successfully into China because of the heavy taxes imposed on goods going into the country. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done about fake goods being manufactured there, the Chinese don't care and will do nothing about it and the Western countries are to gutless to do anything (such as impose there own taxes) to force them, we all want cheap, cheap, cheaper.

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RE: .

Sizzers wrote:
This is a great idea thanks, but being a dummy didn't realise until now you could reply to a "Sticky"! *duh* Think you'll be fitting in AKG sometime? I have previously read elsewhere of some problems with (possibly) fake 701/2's.

Hi Sizzers, we'll be updating the list regularly and will include other manufacturers such as AKG when/if we can get the necessary details from them.

Editor-in-Chief of What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision and whathifi.com

Anonymous
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RE: How to avoid buying fake headphones

Thanks for such an informative and useful list :clap:

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
RE: How to avoid buying fake headphones

It's strange but i've found that every genuine pair of Sony earphones i've ever owned have an average life of about 6 months before the cables deteriorate to the point that they are unusable.

The 'OEM' Sony MDR-EX71s I bought on eBay lasted 18 months before one of the phones died (dodgy connection), and the Sennheiser CX300-IIs that I also bought on eBay for 25% of the value of ones in shops sound just as good as the legit ones I paid nearly $100 for (sadly lost on holiday), and have been going strong for over 2 years now.

 

Anonymous
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RE: How to avoid buying fake headphones

Andy,

How can we get our earphone brand and authorised sellers added to your list?

Paul

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RE: How to avoid buying fake headphones

Hi Paul,

Andy's having a well-deserved day off today, so i'll answer on his behalf!

Please email us at:

whathifi@haymarket.com

And also amend your signature here on the Forums to reflect your industry status, as per our House Rules.

Thanks

 

Group Marketing & PR Manager, Computers Unlimited.

Brands represented include Astell&Kern, Audioengine, B&O Play, Canton, Flexson for SONOS and SONOS

TWITTER: @ClareNewsome

Anonymous
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RE: How to avoid buying fake headphones

Hi Clare,

OK, details sent via email.

Paul

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RE: How to avoid buying fake headphones

Hi. Was looking to get some Soundmagic E10 earphones through Amazon who are authorised but noticed they are supplied by iheadphones who are not. Being an Amazon purchase and not made directly would the purchase be protected by Amazon or has anyone had safe dealings with iheadphones, they seem quite prolific as a seller. Thanks for any views.

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RE: How to avoid buying fake headphones

Looks like Amazon is clamping down on third-party headphone sales for some key brands - news story here

Group Marketing & PR Manager, Computers Unlimited.

Brands represented include Astell&Kern, Audioengine, B&O Play, Canton, Flexson for SONOS and SONOS

TWITTER: @ClareNewsome

Anonymous
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RE: How to avoid buying fake headphones

YES! All correct, and I definitely liked that you put down as your number one note to only purchase from authorized dealers. That is definitely very key.

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RE: How to avoid buying fake headphones

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