Large purchasing organisations are under increasing risk from counterfeit printing supplies 

Brother raid of printer supplies in Germany 2019

Companies are at greater risk of purchasing counterfeit products because of a broadening of supply networks and the difficulty to spot fakes in their procurement and distribution operations.  

2019 study by market researchers Harris Interactive highlighted a 30% drop over the last four years in the number of companies working with a trusted primary supplier. This trend, plus a 27% increase in companies basing their buying policy purely on availability, has led to companies and large government organisations using a much broader network of suppliers.  

The result is an increased risk ounwittingly purchasing and using counterfeit productsparticularly consumables such as toners, ink cartridges and ribbons. This can damage operations and put a company’s reputation at risk, as well as inadvertently funding organised crime.  

As an example, The Slovak University of Agriculture operates hundreds of printers and photocopiers on its Nitra campus. When its procurement organisation became suspicious of a consignment of printing supplies, they called in HP Inc, a member of ICCE, for a customer delivery inspection, which found counterfeit products.  

Susanne Schoewitz-Franchi, global manager of supplies brand protection for HP, said: “We validated the supplier and the security labelling and found some of the supplies were counterfeit. We were able to put the university in contact with one of our trusted partner suppliers who are audited routinely.”  

According to Susanne, the problem of fake printer consumables entering supply chains is widespread, especially in the public sector which is obliged to meet cost criteria. However, the cheaper the bid, the higher the risk that in a delivery there will be counterfeit products mixed in with original products.  

HP has issued advice on conducting a tender process as part of its Anti-Counterfeiting and Fraud Programme and Susanne added: “If you have any suspicion about your supplier or printer consumables are causing problems or are running out too quickly, then contact HP and we will investigate.” Reports can also be made via the ICCE website  

ICCE supports the 2020 Be Safe Buy Real campaign 

The Imaging Consumables Coalition of Europe, Middle East and Africa (ICCE) is supporting this month’s launch of the annual Underwriters Laboratories Be Safe Buy Real campaign with an advice portal and helpful infographic to advise procurement departments on the counterfeit threat.  

ICCE was formed in 1997 as a direct response to the increase in counterfeit imaging consumables across the regions of Europe, Middle East and Africa. Imaging consumables include such products as toner, ink cartridges and ribbons.  

Initially created as an industry association with a focus on education, lobbying, information exchange and awareness, it has since developed to include the role of coordinating the receiving and processing of intelligence information on counterfeiters, ​and initiating joint industry raids and enforcement activities and helping its members to target counterfeiters through the criminal and civil courts.  

Protecting your procurement process from the counterfeiters 

For the Be Safe Buy Real campaign, ICCE is advising corporations and governments to take five steps to protect themselves against counterfeit products:  

  • Buy from reputable channels only. 
  • Be cautious about buying products online, particularly special offers from unknown vendors. 
  • On receipt of a delivery check for authenticity. Most ICCE members use authentication labels including holograms and on-line verification codes to assist consumers to authenticate their product. Packaging should also be high quality and cartridges clean and new looking with no external damage. 
  • If you think you have a problem, report it to ICCE or directly to the manufacturer. 
  • Remember, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.  

Buying through recognised and trusted suppliers and maintaining a robust tender process and contractual agreements with suppliers will also reduce the risk. ICCE offers a step-by-step guide to buying printer supplies.   

For more information or to download the infographic or pdf leaflet, please go to the ICCE website for guidance on corporate procurement: