By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Thousands of potentially dangerous counterfeit HPM-branded power points have been sold to consumers and installed in homes and businesses throughout New South Wales this year in what has labelled a ‘blatant and dangerous consumer rip-off’.

NSW Fair Trading Minister, Diane Beamer today issued a warning to electrical hardware resellers and consumers to watch out for the imitation double socket powerpoints, which have been branded HPM, but are an inferior copy sold under the model number HPM XL777WE.

“A fair trading investigation has confirmed that thousands of these potentially unsafe products have been dumped into the New South Wales market,” said Ms Beamer.

“Consumers should be aware that these counterfeit products are significantly inferior and tests have indicated that they will fail over time, with a potential risk of fire or exposure to live electrical wires.”

To confirm whether a socket is faulty, consumers need to remove the outer plate, which comes off without any tools or screws. If the inside of the cover plate has the inscription XL777, or the arrow points to 05, then the item might be counterfeit and consumers should contact a licensed electrical contractor to have it checked.

Six resellers are being prosecuted and a number of others have been issued formal cautions and penalty notices following an investigation by the NSW Office of Fair Trading.

“This counterfeit racket was a deliberate attack on a reputable Australian company by a network of unscrupulous operators looking to cash in on HPM’s good name and reputation,” said Beamer.

“Fair Trading investigators uncovered an intricate and well organised supply structure involving electrical contractors, electrical wholesalers, online traders, discount retail lighting and electrical suppliers.

“Fair Trading stepped in to stop the sale of these counterfiet articles, but it is important that consumers check any HPM branded double socket outlets that may have been installed since September 2005 to ensure they have the genuine item.”

Ms Beamer said HPM has cooperated fully with the investigation. The company released a joint-statement with the NSW Office of Fair Trading this morning.

“HPM believes that the number of counterfeit double socket outlets with removable cover plates sold is extremely small as a proportion of its production of this product,” said HPM group general manager – marketing, Neil Garbutt.

“HPM advocates the purchase of electrical accessories only from reputable and authorised wholesalers, retailers and electrical contractors.”