Tony Reed, Executive Director of BDIA warns against counterfeit dental equipment
If you were buying a car, would you make sure it was genuine? That you were buying from a reputable dealer, the paperwork was in order, and that the warranty was watertight? Very probably – but are you quite so confident about the supply chain behind your dental equipment? Due largely to the massive growth in sales over the internet, and not just in dental equipment, there has been a parallel explosion in the numbers of companies purporting to be reputable suppliers, but which in fact turn out to be individuals or small companies, who are unlikely to be able to help you if things go wrong, and might vanish without trace once they have sent you the goods you ordered.
Dental equipment represents a significant investment for the practice, and it is essential to check out who is providing it, and therefore is responsible for servicing it and fulfilling the terms of the warranty. The goods may be genuine – purchased from the manufacturer and sold on by the dealer through the internet or other channels – but it’s when things go wrong that you may find that the warranty is worthless, or that the supplier has disappeared. If you’re lucky, you may be able to get some assistance from the manufacturer, providing the goods are genuine, but it is the organisation from whom you bought the goods, i.e. the dealer, who is responsible for looking after it and your route of redress, is through the person who supplied it to you.
It’s very easy to appear to be a reputable company on the internet – anyone can design a smart website, include glowing testimonials from delighted customers and even falsify the badges or logos of organisations and regulatory bodies to appear legitimate, and some dentists have been caught out by this. Even our BDIA logo has been falsified in the past by traders who were not members of our organisation, but we keep a sharp eye out for this and have moved very fast to have it removed from their website. You really can take nothing on the internet at face value.
A separate but related issue is that of counterfeit and substandard instruments and devices. Again thanks to the internet, there has been a huge rise in unscrupulous sellers who deal in copied goods, imported from abroad and sold as the genuine product but at bargain prices. These devices and equipment are poorly made with inferior materials, and many either don’t work well, break down immediately or are downright dangerous. The BDIA’s Counterfeit and Substandard Instruments and Devices Initiative (CSIDI) is an industry-wide activity that works to promote awareness of the risks of these goods, provides an easy way to report them to the relevant bodies, and promotes purchasing only from reputable suppliers such as BDIA members. You can find out more about CSIDI and how to report any suspicious devices on www.bdia.org.uk/device-reporting
And so the onus is squarely on the buyer to check out the credentials of any supplier with whom they consider doing business. Credit checks and a call to any organisation they claim to be a member of, are essential, and you may wish to take it further and speak to the manufacturer or to other customers. The nature of the investment you are making in dental equipment means you have a professional duty to your patients and the staff who are using that equipment to check out the legitimacy of the company that is supplying it – you need to know who you are dealing with. And as a professional, it is not only the financial stability of the company you may wish to research, but also whether their business practices are ethical – how their employees are treated, and so on.
One of the advantages of a good dental show, such as the BDIA Dental Showcase, is that it enables dentists to speak face to face with suppliers, dealers and manufacturers, and build relationships with them, very different from buying from an unknown source over the internet. Getting to know your suppliers means you can ask questions of them face-to-face and set the foundations for an ongoing dialogue after the Show is over. Every BDIA member adheres to a professional code of practice. This means that in choosing to do business with any of them you can have confidence that everything you buy is of guaranteed quality and provenance and that you are in the hands of a trusted, quality-conscious professional.
BDIA Dental Showcase takes place 6-8 October 2016 at ExCeL London. Register for free tickets here: www.dentalshowcase.com