ÜBERTECH | A ZDNet Multiplexer Blog What's this?

Ominous Warnings vs. Helpful Problem-Solving

Counterfeit batteries can overheat, smoke, burst into flames or explode when used in consumer electronics. It’s a big issue for manufacturers, and some are handling it better than others.

Just before Christmas, the Mallon family welcomed its latest edition: a wee bundle of fur called Marnie. (Yes, that Marnie.)


Sadly, Marnie isn’t mine, but my parents. But she’s still a real cutie.

As with all new additions to your family, you want to take photos and movies. To that end, my parents got a new Panasonic digital camcorder.

Whilst reading through the manual (mainly to work out how you attach the lens cap, which is much, much harder than it should be), I stumbled across this warning about avoid fake consumables—and batteries in particular.


Counterfeit consumables are a big issue for manufacturers and consumers. Here’s a good list of issues with these counterfeits. Ebay is flooded (their own words!) with fakes.

They can be a real danger causing smoke, extrme heat, fire or an explosion.

And it’s not just batteries. Fake chargers became such an issue that Apple offered an exchange programme.

Going back to the warning, exactly how is a concerned consumer going to make sure they have the right battery? That page of the manual instills concern and worry, but doesn’t give you the tools to check whether the battery you are going to use is real or not.

The Panasonic website is better, but it’s optimistic at best to expect consumers to go from the manual pictured above to the web page without some directions.

Perhaps Panasonic could learn a lesson from how Nokia addressed this issue in India. In addition to checking a website, consumers could send an SMS to a shortcode with the messaging consisting of “BT” and the 26 digit battery serial number to get the status—and get a confirmation sent straight back.

Sending an SMS is simple, fast way to help protect your consumers. If the item is fake, you can reply to provide assistance and even help track the source of the counterfeit goods.

Warning consumers is good, but providing them an mechanism to check and provide guidance is much better.