I’ve eschewed Amazon for many reasons, among them their lax policing of counterfeit goods, and practice of comingling stock from different sellers. Most of my online shopping happens on eBay, where I can typically evade the grifters by avoiding listings with stock photos and canned descriptions. But, occasionally I still fall victim to a drop shipper operating there and receive goods from Amazon’s tainted pool. In this case, I was attempting to find legitimate Philips Norelco HQ8 replacement shaver heads for my old AT880 electric razor, and instead ended up with junk…
I ordered a set off eBay from a seller that seemed above board, but shortly received a parcel from Amazon. I opened it and found a reasonable facsimile of the Philips retail packaging. Inside that, a set of superficially legitimate looking replacement heads. Unfortunately I quickly found the resemblance to the real thing was only skin deep.
I didn’t keep the external packaging from the knockoff set, but the impostor box didn’t set off a ton of alarm bells. The only apparent red flag I recall was a dubious looking ‘PHILIPS’ sticker seal on one end whose muddied font compared to the real trademark aroused suspicion.
As for the blades, in side by side comparison some key differences make themselves apparent. At left, we have a brand new replacement set of Philips Norelco SH50 heads, the successor part number replacing the discontinued HQ8. Middle is a set of well used original HQ8 heads. Lastly at right is the counterfeit set.
The two genuine sets are similar, with nine blades, while the fake has fifteen. Looking at the way the metal halves are joined, we can see that the real blades are secured with a small rivet, while the fake has metal tabs that are bent over to hold the halves together. The plastic drive shafts are also different, with the real ones having three protrusions along their circumference that lock into notches in the metal blade carrier plate (the notches are missing on the fakes as well). We also see the shape of the plastic drive shafts is different, with the counterfeits having a lobed shape where the real ones are round.
Finally, looking at the blade assemblies from the side, we see another significant difference. The genuine blades are actually three pieces, with a copper colored thin metal piece sandwiched between the two outer halves that curves up and presents an additional edge. The counterfeits lack this entirely, and simply have the tines coming off of the one half ground to a comparatively crude finish. This difference probably explains the bulk of the performance gap between the real and counterfeit items.
Poking around sites dealing in bulk direct from China products like Aliexpress I found a host of similar knock off blades being sold under a variety of brand names and with varying center logo stickers. Common to most is the count of blades, and the missing middle layer of the blade assembly that should provide the additional finer edge. Construction varies otherwise from offering to offering, with none of them providing anything that matches the real deal.
Unfortunately, there’s little recourse here given the time that has passed since the transaction, and not much of a way to avoid this kind of counterfeit good on many online shopping platforms. For this sort of heavily counterfeited item the best bet is probably to go with a reputable brick and mortar retailer whose supply chain can be trusted to a greater degree, and where in person inspection of the product is possible prior to purchase.
Hopefully this will help people stay alert to the fakes on the market, and if not avoid them, at least know when they’ve been had.