If you’re a regular traveller, you’ll undoubtedly be familiar with the counterfeit goods often being sold by individuals across Europe and internationally. From bags to sunglasses, these sellers often have fake versions of some of the world’s biggest brands for a fraction of the price, and travellers are often extremely tempted by these cut-price bargains.
It’s not hard to understand why people are tempted, particularly given the price of real designer goods. However, in many cases you don’t know what criminal activities are being supported by these purchases (for example, research suggests that counterfeit goods are often part of large, multinational criminal enterprises, often involving violence, extortion, prostitution, people smuggling and even global terrorism). On top of that, you’re almost always going to be getting a poor quality item, or in some cases even something potentially dangerous.
Let’s take sunglasses as a pertinent example. In particularly sunny locations, you’ll often find individual sellers offering high-end designer shades at a fraction of the price, including world-renowned brands such as Oakley, Ray Ban, Chanel or Gucci sunglasses. Considering these sunglasses usually sell for hundreds, it’s easy to see why these brands being offered for a tiny fraction of the price is appealing, and they’re extremely popular with tourists looking to grab a bargain.
However, these counterfeit sunglasses often present a very real threat to your eyes and your vision. Genuine designer sunglasses will be put through rigorous and repeated testing protocols, to ensure they offer 100% UV protection and to make sure the frames are strong and durable. Counterfeit frames go through no such testing, often delivering dangerously low (or non-existent) UV protection levels, potentially putting your eyesight at risk.
The materials used in the frames can also be potentially dangerous, offering little protection against shattering under pressure or contact, which can obviously present a very real threat to your eyes.
In many cases, it’s actually safer to where no sunglasses at all rather that donning a pair of counterfeit frames. This is because the dark lenses may give you a false sense of security, so you’re more likely to stay out in the sun for longer periods. If your pupils dilate, letting in more UV light, you’re not protected from the danger associated with UV exposure, putting your vision at serious risk.
So the next time you’re on holiday and tempted to go for those cut-price frames, opt for the real thing instead. Even if you can’t afford the luxury brands, you’re far safer buying a pair from a reputable retailer, rather than opting for fake sunglasses from a street vendor.