The situation with counterfeit memory cards

15 Jun

For years now, there have been reports of counterfeit memory cards – first it was SanDisk, then Samsung, now Transcend. There is a youtube account documenting instances of fake Lexar, Kingston and Adata cards as well. While others have reported that fakes are restricted to eBay, Amazon marketplace and other “non-reputable sellers”, a recent report in German technology magazine c’t suggested that fake cards were being sold by Amazon itself as well – no third party involved.

My personal experience is that when you buy from reputable medium-sized photography equipment retailers, you tend to get genuine stock. However, I also think the big brands need to address the issue by allowing customers to order small shipments directly from them, i.e. they each need to open a dedicated web shop so there can be no question of authenticity or warranty.

Until they do this, memory cards that I buy may come from lesser-known “brands”, and I can’t emphasise enough that Amazon has lost my trust as a purveyor of genuine products. Obviously, whether you can go with lesser known brands may depend on the write or read speeds that you require for your particular purpose, but most country’s laws permit returning stock that does not meet the stated specification, so I suggest you test and insist on getting your money back if there are clear hints that you received a fake.

If you like playing the lottery and want to continue buying big brand memory cards through Amazon, I suggest you at least avoid blister-free packaging or whatever it may be called in your country. That way, you may have a chance to determine whether the goods you receive are bogus. Additionally, try checking whether write speeds conform to manufacturer standards using h2testw, Crystal DiskMark and/or a similar utility. When interacting with sellers based on test output, remember that genuine memory cards can be faulty, so a test failing or reporting a low speed does not necessarily suggest the card is not backed by manufacturer’s warranty. However, it does suggest there is a problem that the seller needs to address.

Some of the reports list stuff to look out for – by brand:

I wouldn’t rely on any of these reports. In all likelihood, the appearance of fake cards gets improved every week, so it won’t be long before they look identical to genuine stock. Manufacturers need to ACT NOW or risk losing marketshare. Right now, they are doing very little to help customers who’ve been affected, and for this reason, in my opinion, they don’t deserve customers’ support.

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