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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Even the Water Is Fake

When I was staying at the Happy Dragon Hostel in Beijing, I noticed that there were some incredibly loud frogs croaking through the night. Then I noticed that the loud croaking didn't seem to move around at all, & that the frogs kept making the same sound patterns. As with just about everything else in China, the frogs were fake.

Some of the fake goods available here are actually great buys. Although they blatantly violate copywrite laws, pirated DVDs and copy books are cheap & widely available. I can get a DVD for about a dollar, & copy books cost $2-$3 each. The quality isn't as good as the real thing, but that doesn't make much difference to someone like me. I'm not going to keep them after I'm finished watching or reading them anyway.

Of course knock-off brands are everywhere - clothing, computers, cosmetics. Most of the real stuff is made in China anyway, so it's not that difficult to copy it & then sell it at the fake market right down the street from the posh boutiques. In China, even the beggars wear Gucci.

In class the other day, we were discussing competition & cooperation in the workplace. One of the students was talking about his job as a bottled water salesman. He said that of course there is a lot of competition in his job - he strives to sell more water than the other sales people. But he said he also depends on cooperation among the sales people, who need to band together against fake water.

Fake water? How can water be fake? He said that about 30% of the bottled water available in Shanghai is bottled by small companies who print labels to look like the brand names. Most of the time these bottles contain nothing but tap water. But he said that most likely the water we buy in supermarkets & quickie marts it legit. We just need to be careful of the bottled water sold on the street, or outside tourist attractions.

That's good advice when buying anything on the street, be it bottled water or a new watch. Buyer beware: If it's cheap, there's probably a reason for it.

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