One of the most famous Charles Caleb Colton quotes was: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. To imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment – often an unintended compliment.
The story starts last autumn when I get contacted by Mr X claiming to be from Rawna Ltd wanting to buy a few hundred Thoughtfully Designed Talking Button Clocks. I looked up the company and found that company had gone ceased trading a number of years ago, also they failed to fill in our forms to set up a trading account, in result I decided not to trade with this company. Later on some of my customers reported that they received emails claiming that the same person Mr X was selling our products. I contacted Mr X to explain that he would need to be a legitimate business and have his own audience if he wanted to become a reseller. After that I didn’t heard from him again until…
At the end of January 2019 a few of my customers reported to me again that Mr Y from another company called “ISee Range” (www.theiseerange.com) had been contacting them with regards to selling the talking button clock.
After a couple of conversations and a product sample investigation we found out that the ISee Button clock is a counterfeit of our Thoughtfully Designed Talking Button Clock.
Main differences & similarities between the Thoughtfully Designed Talking Button Clock and the ISee Button clock:
- Thoughtfully Designed Talking Button Clock has my father’s voice. ISee copied our voice files and used the same voice on their button clock, which is a criminal copy write issue.
- Thoughtfully Designed Talking Button Clock has a very clear sound, we spent lots of time getting this right and that’s why it’s now the market leader. The ISee Button clock has poor sound quality.
- Thoughtfully Designed Talking Button Clock instructions which are covered by copy write have been copied word for word and attached to the ISee Button clock. We have a lot of experience in writing instructions for the blind which includes a specific structure and standards for clear and large print but looking on the ISee Button clock instructions none of those standards have been followed, for example specific font/size.
a) Thoughtfully Designed Talking Button Clock instructions
b) ISee Button clock instructions
- Thoughtfully Designed Talking Button Clock has a very simple setting procedure with one button that is both tactile and easy to see. A high contrast white ring has been positioned around the set button. On the ISee button clock the set button is hard to see, which could pose problems for a visually impaired user. Also the ON/OFF button seems pointless as the product has sleep mode function when the button is held down for 5 seconds. Bizarrely when the ISee Button clock is turned OFF/ON the time is lost and needs to be reset. When the user is looking for the hidden set button they are likely to do this quite often and it does make this product unsuitable for the visually impaired market.
Attention to the small details makes the difference between a product that is a great benefit to an individual with a disability and a product that is not suitable at all.
The ISee Range address provided belongs to ‘theformationscompany’ who offer a mail forwarding service. The website owner is hidden by proxy and the telephone is often left unanswered. The barcode on the ISee Talking Button Clock packaging is 036000291452 when searched this relates to gift bags by the manufacturer ‘minted’.
On the ISee range website there is a piece of writing about how the products have been designed by a named individual through personal experience of a family member being diagnosed with dementia. This name changed the day after I called this company to explain the criminal counterfeit claim that has been logged with trading standards, which leads me to doubt the legitimacy of the story. To share personal experiences is a great thing and really helps people who are affected by disability. If these stories are false then it is exploitation.
Protecting our industry
There are so many positive news stories coming out of the industry at the moment especially product and technology-based solutions for the visually impaired and people living with dementia. The innovators, investors, marketeers and resellers are making positive change to the lives of people living with a disability and this needs to be celebrated.
This has given me a good opportunity to talk about the design of something that seems very simple and is a great example of why we are the UK’s premium supplier of daily living aids. It’s a shame that there are people/companies jumping on the bandwagon to profit from the UK’s ageing population with no regard for whether the product is actually suitable for the intended use and without the knowledge to make it so.
By sharing my experience, I would like to warn everyone to be careful which products we buy and resell and please pay attention to detail. I hope no one will suffer and waste their money on fake products, and that our industry will keep providing people with high quality daily living aids that make a real difference to people’s lives every day.