The Importance of Purchasing from Authorized Distributors
In an internet connected world, shopping online is becoming the new norm. Price matching and bargain hunting is so easy thanks to the information age. But in the search for the best price, would you buy something as important and sensitive as a circuit breaker, MCC, or VFD from some rando saying it is the “real deal?” Many companies, with good intentions, hand over purchasing control to procurement, and without the proper understanding of the technology, most do not know the difference between the Authorized Distributor and the Grey Market.
What is the “Grey market” and how can you spot the fake news
The grey market is new, refurbished and used products sold through unauthorized re-sellers. Like eBay, inventory is sold outside of normal distribution channels, compromising the chain of custody that ensures the quality and safety of the products.
A great example of this is The O•MG cable (Offensive MG kit). While this product is consumer facing, it is a cautionary tale for industrial distribution. This “evil” cable looks identical to an Apple Lighting Cable; however, it “can obtain commands from a nearby smartphone and carry them out on the PC it’s plugged into, PCMag reported.” It is outfitted with a tiny Wi-Fi chip inside one of the sockets giving the hacker a Human Interface Device, like a keyboard and mouse.
Counterfeiting is a significant problem, and it’s growing exponentially as counterfeiters become more sophisticated and more brazen. According to the FBI and other authorities, counterfeits – fake products that look so much like the original that they will fool a buyer – cost businesses close to $225-$600 billion annually in the U.S.
There are several indicators that can tell you if a product is counterfeit:
- No instructions, warnings or warranties with the product.
- Markings and other features on the packaging or the product look different or are missing. Examples:
- Missing certification marks
- Incorrect colors on labels or packaging
- Incorrect shape or design of the product
- Missing components or product features
- Words on the product or package are misspelled
- Country of origin is different from the genuine source
- Manufacturing locations or ports of entry are incorrect
- Product defects or product performance are different from your typical experience.
- Price is unusually low
What’s the harm? Not every item is malicious.
That might be true in some cases, but are you willing to take that bet? You might think you’re getting a good deal, but buying Rockwell Automation, Allen-Bradley, or Rockwell Software branded goods from Unauthorized Sources has some serious risks:
- Is it really new? Even if the package has it’s “factory seal” intact does not mean it is truly new. How many times have you opened a box in a store only to realize it was not what you wanted, and put it back “good as new?” Apply that concept with a bad actor. This is especially prevalent with electronics and the impact can be massive: improper firmware, outdated software, or even trojans.
- No receipt, no warranty: As a consumer, you don’t expect to return an item to Target, when you bought it from eBay. Rockwell Automation’s warranty is limited to products that are purchased directly from Rockwell Automation or one of its authorized distributors.
- Support when you need it: Murphy’s law is inevitable, especially with technology. When it hits the fan, and it will, you will want top notch service from the original Manufacturer or the Authorized Distributor. Don’t be left high and dry by a snake-oil sales man when your plant needs major T.L.C.
- Keep your data secure: The installation and use of altered or modified product poses many potential problems, including but not limited to a threat to operational security, unintended or unwanted actions in the automation system, potential Intellectual Property infringement, an inability to comply with validation standards, such as Title 21 CFR Part II, etc.
- Don’t be caught in non-compliance: Stay in compliance with certification, directives, marking requirements, or regulations (i.e. RoHS, WEEE, CE, REACH) as there are an increasing number of countries implementing restricted substance legislation and requiring product environmental compliance. Rockwell Automation is committed to demonstrating the highest standard of global environmental management.
Rockwell Automation’s Commitment to uncompromising quality and dependable service and support
Rockwell Automation sells its products and services either directly to its customers or through its authorized distributor network. When you purchase from Rockwell Automation or one of its authorized distributors you can be sure you will receive a genuine Rockwell Automation product with the latest innovations, supreme quality, and dependable service and support. Authorized Rockwell Automation distributors can be found on Rockwell’s Distributors overview page. Authorized distributors are licensed to display the following logos:
Some of the benefits of purchasing from an authorized distributor include:
- A Rockwell Automation warranty. Products purchased from an unauthorized source may come with a fake Rockwell Automation warranty, a warranty provided by a third party, or no warranty at all. Rockwell Automation does not honor warranty claims for products purchased from an unauthorized source. Unfortunately, disappointed purchasers from an unauthorized re-seller later learned that the product purchased was used, non-functioning, improperly repaired, tampered with and otherwise not as claimed to be by the re-seller.
- Licensed Rockwell Automation software. Products that comprise or contain Rockwell Automation software and/or firmware do not receive a license from Rockwell to use any such software or firmware that may be loaded on such products when purchased from an unauthorized re-seller. Rockwell also limits the access to software downloads on its website and their use to individuals or entities that have acquired Rockwell products from an authorized source. All other downloads and uses thereof are prohibited.
- Rockwell customer support. Rockwell has refused to provide customer support to customers who are known to have purchased Rockwell Automation products from an unauthorized source.
- Rockwell Automation’s quality assurance. Products purchased from an unauthorized source may contain defects or malfunctions due to improper handling, transportation and storage of the products. As already mentioned, we have seen instances where purportedly new and genuine product turned out to be used, improperly repaired, non-functioning, and fake or which contains outdated firmware which raises serious safety and security concerns.
- Rockwell Automation’s product safety and/or recall notices. Rockwell or its authorized distributors provide product safety and recall notices to those that have purchased genuine Rockwell Automation products. Purchasers from unauthorized re-sellers do not receive product safety or recall notices from Rockwell Automation in the manner that purchasers of genuine products do.
- Rockwell Automation intellectual property indemnity. Rockwell provides an intellectual property indemnity to those who purchase from an authorized source. Those who purchase from an unauthorized source do not receive such indemnity. In connection with this indemnity, under certain circumstances and subject to certain conditions, Rockwell will defend any lawsuit or other proceeding brought against the purchaser in which it is alleged that the design or construction of the genuine, authorized Rockwell product infringe a patent, copyright, or trademark (and/or replace, modify, or return any such product accused of infringement).
EECO is a full line electrical distributor and the largest Rockwell Automation distributor in Virginia.
We support industrial manufacturers, OEMs, and contractors throughout the Commonwealth. We offer exceptional knowledge and service that helps you design, implement, and support your automation investment. If you are looking for an authorized distributor to walk you through your company’s modernization efforts or need help purchasing products, we are here to help. Contact us today by filling out the form below: