Counterfeit Christmas Lights Pose A Shocking Hazard

Counterfeit Christmas Lights Pose A Shocking Hazard


Christmas Lights

Next week is Thanksgiving and if your neighbors have yet to do so, they’ll be putting up Christmas lights, decorating the mantle, and listening to Christmas carols as “Miracle on 34th Street” blares in the background. The calendar is moving through the waning weeks of 2008 and soon Christmas morn’ will be here.

But, a potential problem – a fire hazard – exists as counterfeit Christmas lights — including those with fake Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) labels — pose a threat to consumers for their potential inability to meet electrical safety and fire codes. This problem has been identified by several advocacy groups who are urging consumers to be on the lookout for dangerous lights.

“Underwriters Laboratories Inc., like many other Intellectual Property Rights and Trademark owners, has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of counterfeited products and trademark labels on those products in the past, several years,” said Robert Crane, lead enforcement manager, Anti-Counterfeiting Operations, UL, Chapel Hill, N.C. “For several decades, UL has integrated security features in many of its labels.”

How can you be sure that the Christmas lights you are ordering are not safe? Well it isn’t easy, but a few warning signs are evident including:

  • Surprisingly low prices
  • Unusual labeling or certification marks
  • A lack of sales tax on a receipt since counterfeiters generally don’t report their sales.

In addition, consumers should be aware of street vendors and unauthorized dealers hawking Christmas lights.

Crane said that holographic labels were developed to further thwart the piracy of UL labels, with the first holograms introduced in 1993 for decorative lighting strings and outfits. Since the holograms were so successful, he said that additional categories for products manufactured in China also required holographic labels and more requirements were added this year including the newest gold holograms.

So if your Christmas lights fail you the first week of December, you may want to examine the tags closer to see if you have the real deal. Save your receipt and take back your lights at the first sign of trouble and exchange your lights after carefully examining that the replacement lights are truly authentic.

Source: Electrical Contractor magazine

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Categories: Consumer Tips

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".