While 75 percent of Canadians say they will shop online for holiday gifts this year, 40 percent of them worry about buying knock-offs, a recent survey shows.
Buyers are especially wary of pirated software and say they're unsure if they know how to tell genuine software from fakes, reports The Strategic Counsel, the organization that conducted the survey.
Pirated software is a big problem, according to the Business Software Alliance. About 41 percent of personal-computer software has been pirated, the organization says. Last year, counterfeit software reportedly cost the software industry $50 billion.
"Consumers need to be vigilant when shopping online and in the store," notes Christopher Tortorice, a counsel for Microsoft Canada Co. "That is why we provide resources like the www.howtotell.com Web site and other tools that help consumers buy smart. Software piracy and counterfeiting is a complex, global problem, and we are committed to working with the Canadian government, the RCMP, local law enforcement agencies, and customers and technology partner communities to stay one step ahead of this illegal industry."
Spelling and grammar errors on a listing or the package are definite red flags
Krista Prong knows just how difficult it can be to identify fakes. She reports buying Microsoft Office Professional 2007 software on eBay that turned out to be counterfeit.
"I really did my homework and knew the version and price of what I was looking for," she recalls. "The product looked legitimate when I received it and the seller had a good track record, but upon installing it, I realized I had been sold a high-quality counterfeit package."
She thought she "was out of luck," but received genuine software after calling Microsoft's hotline.
Experts say consumers can use several tactics to reduce their chances of buying fake goods. Spelling and grammar errors on a listing or the package, for instance, are definite red flags. Bad packaging is another clue that a buyer could be dealing with a counterfeit. And once a shopper receives an item, he or she should check for a developer's license, which is typically included with genuine products.
Another tip: "Check the prices," officials say. "If the price is too good to be true, then it probably is."
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.