COUNTERFEIT brands seem so real that consumers who do not have the knowledge to detect the fine difference between the real and the fake end up buying them.
And it is only after using the product for some time and facing problems do people realise that what they had bought was not genuine.
From the country's consumer watchdog's point of view, consumers are being betrayed because they are investing in a product that is not real — ironically a reality unknown to them.
The Consumer Council of Fiji says the manufacture of such products is questionable, right from the point of its origin to how long it will survive, including its safety.
With the rise in mass production of consumer durable industries in some Asian countries over the past 15 years, the council says the proportion of unknown or generic brands has increased markedly.
"The standard practice is for a retailer and or distributor on behalf of a retailer to register brand names in a country, and purchase generic products made by production companies with the brand names supplied," said the council's chief executive officer Premila Kumar.
Mrs Kumar said a search on the internet found that some brands of electrical products imported into the country had no factory anywhere in the world.
She said most of those products did not have the manufacturer's warranty that a consumer could be provided with.
"For this reason and to prevent scrutiny on product standards and certification, the retailer itself provides warranties to consumers," Mrs Kumar said.
"This is in breach of the consumer's right because every durable product must come with a manufacturer's warranty that guarantees the product's quality.
"Sadly, the poor and vulnerable consumers become the common targets given the fact that they don't have cash to buy the product.
"It is the lower stand of society, the ones living a little above the poverty line and the middle class, who are the worst hit as they are left with no or little choice but to buy these brands.
"What is more heart breaking is that they buy these products on credit, which means they pay monthly installments and they end up paying 1.73 times more for the goods as they would have paid if they could afford to buy cash."
Mrs Kumar said two reports launched by the council last year highlighted that consumers were attracted to enticing advertisements in the media, not knowing what exactly they were buying.
She said the council would not condone the marketing of fake brands in Fiji and urged appropriate authorities to look into the issue.