Warning-counterfeit Petzl gear

3:05 a.m. on February 14, 2011 (EST)
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9:03 a.m. on February 14, 2011 (EST)
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That is really troubling. How unscrupulous do you have to be to counterfiet life protection devices.

6:09 p.m. on February 14, 2011 (EST)
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My question is why? The market for this stuff can't be that big and according to Petzl, these are good copies. Not good as in reliable, but good as in hard to tell from the real thing.

What is more disturbing is all of the counterfeit drugs and food on the market-mostly Internet sales, but also sold to Third World countries, not to mention fake antibiotics, fake baby formula, fake cosmetics, fake aircraft parts, fake computer chips, clothes, jewelry, sporting goods (things like golf clubs), you name it, someone is making counterfeits.

There are a lot of fake TNF goods on the net. I've seen websites that sell nothing but counterfeit TNF clothes. Easy to tell from the prices. Lots of fakes on eBay too.

5:57 p.m. on February 15, 2011 (EST)
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Well Tom, I guess the wholesale market COULD be big enough to warrant the manufacture of certain Petzl items.   If you do a Google shopping search for the items in the bulletin, absolutely EVERYONE sells them.  Pretty scary indeed.

Now, my cynical side has to ask: Are these items really fakes, or are they inferior real products that sneaked through quality control and are being explained away as counterfeit?  No way for the average person to tell they're fake? Hmmm.  I know, I know, but if I didn't say it, someone else would.

10:26 p.m. on February 15, 2011 (EST)
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For all of the above reasons I always puchase all climbing gear new, from reputable brich and mortar establishments. 

Ed

12:14 a.m. on February 16, 2011 (EST)
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Well Tom, I guess the wholesale market COULD be big enough to warrant the manufacture of certain Petzl items.   If you do a Google shopping search for the items in the bulletin, absolutely EVERYONE sells them.  Pretty scary indeed.

Now, my cynical side has to ask: Are these items really fakes, or are they inferior real products that sneaked through quality control and are being explained away as counterfeit?  No way for the average person to tell they're fake? Hmmm.  I know, I know, but if I didn't say it, someone else would.

 Actually, someone already has, over on VFTT where I first saw this story. I tend to believe they are counterfeit, but from the same factory where the genuine ones are made, probably in China. Trying to pass off inferior gear as copies, then being found out would probably put Petzl out of business or at least cause serious damage to the company.

Bill would know more than me on this, but many years ago, Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia owned all or part of Chouinard Equipment, the forerunner of what is now Black Diamond. When the company was sued, it went bankrupt because of the potential damage awards and was separated from the other companies Chouinard ran. The claims weren't that the gear was defective, but that they didn't have warnings about the danger of climbing. There is some basic info on Wikipedia and a few stories online about Black Diamond and its history.

8:22 a.m. on February 16, 2011 (EST)
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Well Tom, I guess the wholesale market COULD be big enough to warrant the manufacture of certain Petzl items.   If you do a Google shopping search for the items in the bulletin, absolutely EVERYONE sells them.  Pretty scary indeed.

Now, my cynical side has to ask: Are these items really fakes, or are they inferior real products that sneaked through quality control and are being explained away as counterfeit?  No way for the average person to tell they're fake? Hmmm.  I know, I know, but if I didn't say it, someone else would.

 Actually, someone already has, over on VFTT where I first saw this story. I tend to believe they are counterfeit, but from the same factory where the genuine ones are made, probably in China. Trying to pass off inferior gear as copies, then being found out would probably put Petzl out of business or at least cause serious damage to the company.

Bill would know more than me on this, but many years ago, Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia owned all or part of Chouinard Equipment, the forerunner of what is now Black Diamond. When the company was sued, it went bankrupt because of the potential damage awards and was separated from the other companies Chouinard ran. The claims weren't that the gear was defective, but that they didn't have warnings about the danger of climbing. There is some basic info on Wikipedia and a few stories online about Black Diamond and its history.

 Tom the case with Chourinard was a climbing harness..thats what led to him selling the company..The person who perished was a Doctor and the widow sued..I remember reading the case in Outside mag...The webbing I believe slipped backout the buckle and the Doctor slipped out of the harness. But common sense would tell you it's dangerous...As for what your getting at the fake petzle's.That has to be a huge impact on the industry..

10:49 a.m. on February 16, 2011 (EST)
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Simplier to not buy petzl. Go BD!! ;-)

In any case I'm with Gonzan. Selling fake safety/climbing products. Words cant express my disgust and anger.  In any case on a funnier note:               

I wonder if climbing on these or the fake petzl product is more dangerous.


plastic-nuts.jpg
Plastic nuts, crazy Ukranians...;-)

6:42 p.m. on February 17, 2011 (EST)
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 Tom the case with Chourinard was a climbing harness..thats what led to him selling the company..The person who perished was a Doctor and the widow sued..I remember reading the case in Outside mag...The webbing I believe slipped backout the buckle and the Doctor slipped out of the harness. But common sense would tell you it's dangerous...As for what your getting at the fake petzle's.That has to be a huge impact on the industry..

denis,

Sorry, but I have to make a few corrections to your version of the story. Correct that the incident with Chouinard involved a climbing harness. The rest of the story is fairly far off, though.

The situation was that a group of lawyers, all from the same firm in the Southeast, took a climbing trip to the West. Their first stop was Rainier, which they all climbed (with a guide service, RMI, which was the only authorized guide service on Rainier at the time). They next headed to the Tetons, where they went through a climbing course that was to have done the Grand Teton as the "graduation" of the course. I believe that it was Exum, though I have forgotten right now. Their instructor was Jim Bridwell, a friend of mine from my Yosemite Valley days in the 1960s, who I still talk to from time to time. The group had been taken through the basics of rock climbing and were on their last multipitch climb before heading for the Grand. Jim had led the pitch, which went up a short distance, then out around a roof. The first of the group was following and was out of sight of the rest of the group, but not yet in sight of Jim, so no one is sure exactly what happened. The climber apparently fell, because he came in sight of the rest of the group and fell some distance. I do not recall whether he died instantly, but he was dead by the time rescuers could get to him. Examination of the scene showed that he had fallen out of his harness. It was apparent that the belt had not been doubled back through the buckle. While no one knows for sure, the evidence was that the victim had stepped aside to relieve himself, taking the harness off to do so, then failed to put it back on properly.

The suit came from the law firm and was filed against everyone in sight - the guide service, Jim, the Park Service, and Great Pacific Iron Works, manufacturer of the harness. The guide service, Jim, and Great Pacific Iron Works (located in Ventura, California) had no assets to speak of (all of Great Pacific Iron Works' tooling and machinery was leased), and the Park Service is not responsible in general for incidents. Chouinard was not the direct owner of Great Pacific Iron Works, and in fact what little assets the company had was sold to a group of the employees (basically only the "Diamond C" logo and rights to the designs), who formed Black Diamond, a company located in Salt Lake City.  The other company founded by Chouinard, Patagonia, was completely separate from and independent of Great Pacific Iron Works. Chouinard Equipment was the parent and original company, under which Great Pacific Iron Works and Patagonia fell.

This suit, along with several others at about the same time, led to the marking of virtually all climbing gear or its packaging with the "climbing is dangerous" warnings, and ultimately to similar labels on all gear and all venues for "risk sports". Several similar suits in the 1980s led to the Sierra Club dropping all outings that involved risk sports (notably climbing and white water), with prompting of the insurance companies, who raised their rates by huge amounts). This affected many other climbing clubs as well. At one point, the Sierra Club defined "climbing" as anything that involved a rope and issued a directive forbidding carrying ropes along on any trip. This later was modified to ropes ok to be carried in case of emergency, but you can't use them for climbing during the trip.

I have left out many details, mostly in the interest of keeping it from being too long.

7:12 p.m. on February 17, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks Bill, I've never met Bridwell, but I know his name from reading about various climbs. 

When I took my mountaineering class, one of the first things we learned was make sure the harness was on right.

When I was in NZ years ago, a couple of people drowned on a guided rafting trip. As far as I know, no one got sued, in part as I recall, as one of the relatives of a victim told the paper (paraphrasing), "hey, we know these trips can be dangerous." I had been rafting on the same river or one like it (can't remember) and yeah, you could easily drown if something went wrong.

I'm a lawyer, but some of the suits you see shame the profession.  Many years ago, someone sued Bell over the use of a bicycle helmet and if I remember right, the guy wasn't even wearing it at the time, it was hanging on his handlebars.  It is this kind of nonsense that gives the profession a bad name.

7:13 p.m. on February 17, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks for your corrections Bill. Since you jogged my memory I remember the issue about if the harness was doublebacked and he was with a guide service at the time. I always felt that the victums friends or associate's were trying to find fault with  the guide. Meaning I thought that was a witch hunt. I knew Chourinard owned patagoinia and that was a seperate entity from  the gear company at the time.That and they truly weren't making that much money in the climbing gear industry as well. That was along time ago I cant even remember when I read it. As for the Risk warning on all high risk sport equipt. I think the endeavor is self explanatory personally.But thats just my opinion on that. But thank you Bill.

11:20 p.m. on February 23, 2011 (EST)
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Not encouraging: Petzl's Grigri has been on steepandcheap.com in regular rotation for the past few days. Prior to the Grigri, I've never seen a single Petzl item on S&C in my years of monitoring...

3:25 p.m. on February 24, 2011 (EST)
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FYI, steepandcheap.com is owned by backcountry.com, which is a reputable dealer.

But counterfeiters hurt a brand's reputation even for those reputable dealers selling good gear, not to mention the risk to users.

From Petzl:

How do I make sure that I am purchasing an authentic Petzl product?

To ensure that you have purchased authentic Petzl products, be sure to shop at an authorized Petzl dealer (link). If you are in doubt, contact the distributor in your country. You can find their contact information with the Petzl dealer locator

A Petzl rep posted the following on SNEWS (an outdoor industry trade pub) the other day, in response to a story on outdoor counterfeiters:

Petzl has had a long standing battle with companies who have stolen and copied our intellectual property and product designs.

Until recently, this was only a problem with our headlamps. On Friday, Feb. 11, we released information warning the consumer that counterfeits of products from our line of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – life safety climbing gear – have been discovered. These counterfeit copies have the potential of putting lives at risk, as they are nearly exact duplicates of Petzl equipment, including our logo, but they fail at loads well below the safety standards set by CE and the UIAA. The loss of business from lost sales to counterfeiters pales in comparison to the risk these copies present to climbers, and the potential damage to the credibility of the Petzl brand, which has been built on the core value of producing the highest quality vertical safety equipment. You can find this warning at:

http://petzl.com/us/outdoor/news-2/2011/02/11/warning-regarding-presence-counterfeit-versions-petzl-products

To date, there have been no counterfeited products found in North America. If end-users purchase from authorized Petzl dealers, there is no danger they will be purchasing counterfeited Petzl equipment. However, purchasing from grey market dealers, buying used equipment, or purchasing from rogue internet sites, puts the user at risk of obtaining these low quality fakes.

This example provides a solid case as to the growing dangers presented by counterfeited products and the potential harm they present to U.S. businesses and consumers alike. And, this underscores the importance for the end user to purchase Petzl products from our authorized dealer base. We have to trust that the end user will not lose confidence in the brand through our efforts at transparency while we fight the good fight against pirates.

Vibram FiveFingers is another brand that has to shut down counterfeit sites daily.

In their case, at least it's not essential climbing gear, but it still is subpar and hurts the Virbam brand.

3:45 p.m. on February 25, 2011 (EST)
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I didn't mean to imply that S&C isn't a reputable dealer, only echo, and add to, what was mentioned above: that I can see how one could think that Petzl might have had a quality control issue that they're trying to shore up. Now that businesses are dumping backstock, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a redesigned Grigri within a year, launched in concert with some kind of "reassurance" marketing campaign...

9:22 a.m. on February 28, 2011 (EST)
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What's interesting is that while the counterfeits are Chinese, Petzl produced the original gear in USA and France.

Two of the four models counterfeited are no longer being produced by Petzl, though end-users would be unlikely to know that .

It's nearly impossible for users to tell the difference. Even the packaging, batch numbers, instructions, etc. look legitimate. So it's important to buy from a reputable dealer.

However, so far, Petzl hasn't reported finding any counterfeits in North America.

FYI, I posted the warning on the site too: http://www.trailspace.com/articles/2011/02/28/petzl-counterfeits.html

4:00 p.m. on February 28, 2011 (EST)
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... Now that businesses are dumping backstock, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a redesigned Grigri within a year, launched in concert with some kind of "reassurance" marketing campaign...

When it comes to life-critical gear, the only gear that gets "dumped" (by the manufacturers or retail stores) is when a new model is released and the old model is discontinued. UIAA and CEN (the certifying agencies for climbing gear) will not allow selling of defective gear (big fines are just the beginning penalty). When defects, whether due to design, manufacturing problems, or bad materials (such as the DMM recall) are found, notices are widely published in the climbing community. Sometimes, as with the Leeper bolt hangers (a materials problem) or the Friends (combination of design flaw and production problem), the defects are discovered years later. The climbing manufacturers are pretty good about dealing with life-critical problems, with a big step-up in quality control after the series of suits in the 1970s and 1980s.

As it happens, the Grigri has been superseded by the Grigri 2. The new version is smaller and lighter and the braking system operates much more smoothly. The main reason for development of the Grigri 2 is the strong competition in the belay/descender area (there were 2 other new and interesting belay/descenders introduced at the January OR Show). Right now, the Grigri 2 is very difficult to obtain, thanks to huge demand.

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