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Testing Times

We live in an increasingly litigious and competitive marketing environment with businesses understandably trying to maximise income and minimise outgoings. A fake test certificate costs approximately RMB 3,000 (£330) against RMB 12,000 (£1,300) for a genuine one.

It should therefore come as no surprise that it has been estimated that 30% of test certification allegedly coming from China is either inaccurate, misleading or fraudulent.

On a positive note, these figures show the majority of test house certification can be relied upon but clearly there is a risk. As a BPMA member we want you to have justified confidence in your test certification and products so any regulatory issues can be avoided as well as civil claims that could arise. As an SME, your available time resources will be limited but accepting everything at face value is not recommended best practice. To show due diligence,a few checks are always required.

Practical Steps

  • How much time should you spend checking certification? We would say that needs to be based on the risk and consequences of something going wrong, both as a reputational risk and also any potential personal injury.
  • Always ask for copies of the test certification and if possible make compliance with the relevant EU/ UK legislative requirements part of your contractual agreement.
  • Is the test house accredited by a third party, such as UKAS or a similar body?
  • Does the certificate relate to that product? Check product identification codes.
  • How old is the certificate? While testing certificates have no time limits (unless specified) production methods and materials will change over time.
  • Due to issues with fake certification the larger test houses run a free online checking service – just enter your certificate number. Alternatively, for those not listed email the test house directly.

Mark Oliver is Cambridgeshire Trading Standards business hub manager.

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