Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket is leading a crackdown on counterfeiters by introducing new security labels to a wide range of its products.
Thanks to several safety features on the label, including a data-matrix code and holographic technology, distributors and garages will be able to check whether they hold an original package from the aftermarket expert or a counterfeit.
This new security solution is already being used for selected product groups and repair solutions, but all Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket product packages sold in the UK will eventually get this technology in a step-by-step process.
The initiative by the original equipment (OE) manufacturer of LuK clutches, INA tensioners and FAG wheel bearings follows a growing number of reports of problems caused by customers buying products that have been sourced through online shopping sites.
More and more mechanics say that a growing number of customers want them to fit parts that they have sourced themselves via the internet, a worrying trend, as not only is there the issue of the car driver potentially purchasing the wrong replacement part or application for their vehicle, but how can either party be certain that the parts are ‘genuine’, as is often advertised?
The technical team at Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket (UK) Ltd has received a high number of complaints from end users who purchased clutches online thinking they were getting a bargain. The seller was misleading its customers by advertising the product as genuine, original LuK and retail boxed.
Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket (UK) Ltd Technical Services Manager Malcolm Short said: “One particular seller was and still is advertising clutches as genuine, brand new and retail boxed. What actually turns up is a white boxed, badly remanufactured unit
“In fact, LuK does not supply remanufactured clutches in the UK, or sell products in plain white or brown boxes, but in full liveried cartons with clear labelling. It is easy, however, for some online sellers to exploit the unsuspecting buyer. We have confronted this company several times now but they continue to ignore us, so we now intend to pursue them legally.”
The company says there are many ways a garage can identify the difference between a new or remanufactured clutch, or to check out a dodgy seller:
Have a look in the box!
Generally the parts have been shot blasted and painted and come packed in a non-branded box.
Read the feedback!
Online suppliers are often distance sellers, so there is always the potential for dodgy traders. To counter this, most sites have a feedback system.
Google the company!
The problems with the company selling fake LuK clutches online were so prolific that a Google search reveals a mass of customer complaints.
Garages can be considered legally liable – even if they did not offer a warranty. They should be careful about fitting parts supplied from anywhere but their usual trusted supplier.
Most garages have a motor factor that they know and trust that provides them with correct products from the suppliers they want to use. Any unexpected problems with incorrect parts or brands are solved with a quick phone call, and shortly after the van turns up again with the right parts. Surely this is a quicker and safer solution than any online retailer could manage?
Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket (UKL) Ltd is a member of OESAA (Original Equipment Suppliers Aftermarket Association), a group of leading manufacturers and suppliers of OE automotive parts to vehicle-makers.
OESAA’s main aims are to promote the benefits of fitting OE quality components and to ensure that workshops and distributors can make an informed choice when purchasing spare parts.
The new security measures are part of the Manufacturers against Product Piracy (MAPP) initiative which Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket and other leading members of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) have joined.
The aim of the initiative is to make the industry more aware of the problem of product and brand piracy and to provide them with information about how original spare parts can be clearly identified.
The data-matrix code on the packaging used by Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket is based on a coding proposal created by CLEPA.
Clear identification is ensured by a multi-level security system consisting of a data-matrix code and an optical security feature. A special encryption prevents counterfeiters from creating valid codes of their own. The information on the label is automatically identified by simply scanning it – using a smartphone, for instance. The data is checked and the results are back in just few seconds.
Additional protection against forgery is provided by an optical security marking on the label. Similar to the print on banknotes, these have visible and concealed security features on them – but in a resolution that’s five times higher. The combination of these security features, along with a clear link to the data stored in the data-matrix code, give reliable information about the genuineness.
Aftermarket products with packaging that already uses the new, forgery-proof security labelling include LuK Dual Mass Flywheels (DMFs) and all LuK and FAG commercial vehicle products.
Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket (UK) Ltd’s brands are backed by technical support and repair installation tips through its industry leading internet site RepXpert (www.RepXpert.com) and a technical hotline; UK Tel: 08457 001100; Ireland Tel: +44 (0)1432 264264.