The reason behind my writing this article is because I too have accidentally purchased a counterfeit bong. Albeit a RooR bong and probably the most counterfeited brand of scientific glass at the time of writing this. But the point being is that IF I KNEW at the time I was making the purchase that I was not going to be receiving a real bong made by that manufacturer I definitely would not have purchased it. When you spend in excess of $250 on glass most of the time you do some research first, ask your friends, check forums and reviews first. But what happens when you get to the store and start talking to the sales person who leads you in the direction of purchasing a counterfeit product that they make a hefty amount of mark up from since they aren’t giving you the real thing. At first you think, hey I’m getting a really good deal! But once you get it home and you suffer the buyers remorse when it breaks it is a whole different feeling.
You see, a genuine name brand bong from most reputable companies RooR, illadelph, pHx, etc is hand made using borosilicate glass. These pieces are an investment in your smoking hobby and when you drop a lot of money you want that money to go as far as possible. A piece of glass from a reputable glass blower will last a lifetime, a counterfeit will not. The problem lies herein, these brands are touted for quality and then someone comes along and slaps their decal on inferior quality glass/product and then resells it under the well-known brand name. What happens next is almost all too familiar and comes close to home for me.. The bong comes home with the purchaser and they get a few good uses of it. They name it, show it off to all their friends and then one day that bong bumps into something or gets knocked over and it shatters, snaps, or breaks all the meanwhile becoming useless. A name brand bong most of the time won’t break, but in this case the buyer believes it is a name brand and it being broken therefore hurts the reputation of the company being counterfeited.
Some bongs have been known to survive falls that break bones. Take this one story I heard from Ross G. of illadelph he told us one of his customers took a bad fall down the stairs whilst holding an illadelph water pipe and the person broke a bone while the bong wasn’t harmed in the slighest. He then told me of a story that happened earlier that day where he got an e-mail from a guy whose girlfriend bought him an illadelph (or at least thought so) and it broke the same day he got it home, thinking that it was genuine he asked if it could be repaired only to find out that the bong his girlfriend had purchased was a counterfeit.
In my best effort to provide a truly accurate representation of what happens when you go shopping for a bong and then purchase a counterfeit or a knock-off version of a popular product, then I will describe the tell-tale signs to look for that the bong you are trying to purchase may be a counterfeit.
- Do your research about which water pipe brand you’re purchasing. Once you’ve decided on a brand research what sets them apart from the fakes. For example, the illadelph logo does not contain a ® or TM however those who produce the counterfeits continue to paste that on the knock off pipes. On RooR pipes the logo has been put upside down, horizontally, and even in reverse. Simply by educating yourself or carrying your smart phone with you can save you the heart and money ache of purchasing a counterfeit.
- Only purchase from authorized distributors of the product. Most reputable brands list the headshops that carry their products on their website.
- By simply asking if the bong is a counterfeit will let the sales people know you are keen to knock offs. At one headshop we found they were almost too honest and said they sold both counterfeits and legit pieces so people could see the difference.
- Do not buy from eBay or other online auction sites because the counterfeiters use real product images or deceptive wording to conceal the fact they will bait-and-switch with the knock off.
- E-mail the glass company and let them know what water pipe you are in the market for and see if they can point you to one of their local resellers who carry the piece you are looking for.
- NEVER EVER EVER SETTLE for a counterfeit. This happens far too often where you just break a glass piece and in the heat of the moment you go out shopping for it’s replacement. You’re looking for something that fits your budget and a crafty headshop salesman sees this and tries to prey on the weakness of your fear of leaving without a new piece. They show you a few expensive things and then offer you a “deal” or “sale” on something that you like but is out of your price range initially. A real headshop will have a standard discount range of typically 20%.. if the piece falls below the 20% mark on price tag and is a brand name than it might be a counterfeit. Most of the products have a recommended price and has the wholesales cost built in. A counterfeit piece however costs significantly less to make and can be sold to headshops for less in order for them to make a higher mark-up that fills the gap created by the brand name piece. Sometimes they sell “chipped” or slightly “cracked” pieces with a brand name on it. They say it’s only cosmetic or try to make the damage seem negotiable in price.. A real brand name glass product will never chip or get a hairline crack. Avoid these types of headshops like the plague. Chinese blown glass is inferior to hand blown USA glass. It may be tempting to purchase that cheap bong with a ton of percs over the same priced name brand pipe with only 1 perc but the quality of the pull depends on this and you won’t regret having your piece not break during cleaning.
- Do not trust Yelp! reviews. Shieeeeeet, one of the most disappointing things when I went searching for fakes is that the highest rated headshop in New York City happened to contain the most obvious fakes we could find. Yelp! reviewers only paid attention to prices and customer service while Yelp! seemed to have censored/filtered out the most factually correct reviews. We are almost positive that a lot of these reviews are fake and when reading the reviews that yelp had filtered out we found that they were probably paid off in advertisements to remove the most critical yet very truthful reviews.
So now that you know that most headshop salesman can lie up and down that their pieces are real, we have given you an outline of what to know coming into a store. Ask direct questions whether or not the store you’re dealing with is an authorized seller for the bong company to avoid purchasing a counterfeit bong or rig.
Best of luck making your legit bong or rig purchase and thank you for doing your part to avoid buying a counterfeit bong.