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Paul Nelson, KSL NewsradioSome industry analysts say counterfeiters are getting better at faking customers out of real products. These phony goods cost companies $250 billion a year.
Let's talk about your car's brakes. Some mechanics say they're very picky when it comes to brands they use.
Jon Hansen, owner of Val's Alignment in South Salt Lake, said, "We no longer use another brand at all because -- and it's a superior brand -- but just because we weren't completely satisfied with the results."
Val's Alignment doesn't have a corporate buyer, like Midas or Meineke does, so anyone selling a new product goes straight to Hansen. He's not buying, though.
"I do get salesmen wanting us to use their products, but I choose to use the brand that I choose to use," he said.
Hansen says he's found a brand that he trusts and he's sticking with it. However, a new Consumer Reports investigation shows a growing number of brake pads across the country are fake, and they're made out of things like kitty litter, dried grass and sawdust. Luckily, Hansen says he's never seen one installed on any car he's worked on.
"I have not worked with that at all, yet," he said.
If you were to get these counterfeit pads, you'd feel a difference.
Consumer Reports Magazine senior editor Tod Marks said, "It wasn't handling correctly. It wasn't stopping correctly."
Marks says Consumer Reports' investigation turned up all kinds of fake auto parts like pads, oil filters and air filters. It doesn't stop there. They say 14,000 shipments carrying phony goods were seized in 2006, a record number, and that number stayed high for 2007. These fake items include prescription medicine, diabetic testing strips, extension cords that could spark fires and cell phone batteries that could explode.
"If they make it, they fake it. That is, virtually every product that's available for consumer use is counterfeited," Marks said.
Marks says you need to pay close attention to the Underwriters Laboratory, or UL symbol on electrical items.
"A silver holographic seal is required on those inexpensive electrical components we spoke of: the extension cords, the holiday lights," he explained.
He says the real UL seal has a four-digit code that follows. Marks also says some Web sites that claim to have cheap prescription drugs from Canada may actually have medicine from Asia. Plus, you should never fall for any deep discount on high-end items like Prada bags.