STIHL is warning consumers to be wary of unsafe counterfeit chainsaws, often purchased online.
"Unlike purchasing a ‘knock off' wrist watch or designer handbag, purchasing a counterfeit chainsaw is playing Russian roulette with your own and other's safety – it's not a risk worth taking," says STIHL New Zealand Managing Director Jim Bibby.
The warning comes after an investigation by TVNZ's Sunday programme, where reporter John Hudson tracked the origins of a fake STIHL branded chainsaw back to a counterfeiting factory in China after inadvertently purchasing a fake chainsaw through Trade Me.
In cooperation with their dealer network, STIHL has launched a programme for concerned consumers, which allows them to bring in their chainsaw to be checked by an expert. If your STIHL dealer identifies it to be a counterfeit chainsaw, they will assist you by offering to trade in your fake saw (and safely disposing of it) for a genuine one.
Mr Bibby says STIHL products are characterised, among other things, by strict quality and safety standards, which is not the case with fakes which have never been subjected to any of the legally required safety tests.
"Moreover, safety-critical devices may be faulty or totally absent in counterfeits. For example, the hand guard for the automatic chain brake - the most important safety device on a chainsaw - was found to be broken in recent counterfeits handed over to us," he adds. Because there are so many different counterfeiters operating overseas, it is difficult to know, without conducting proper safety tests, which chainsaw features may be broken or unsafe and this can cause a real risk of harm to user.
"As one of New Zealand's most trusted brands, we are immensely proud of the quality of our products and services and we encourage consumers to be very careful when purchasing chainsaws and other outdoor powertools. To be safe consumers really should buy from their local dealer store or, if buying secondhand, should request original purchase receipts and documentation. If you are unsure about a machine you may have purchased on-line recently then please get it checked by your nearest dealership, which you can find on our Website [Click here to search for your local STIHL dealer]. Genuine STIHL products are sold exclusively through authorized STIHL dealers worldwide in order to guarantee professional advice and instruction as well as full customer service support" concludes Mr Bibby.