Public Service Announcement

DrakonblaydeDrakonblayde Posts: 542Member
I've been meaning to say something like this for awhile, but keep putting it off, but recent events at my company have prompted me to remember.

For those who don't traffic in large amounts of Cisco equipment, be forewarned that there is alot of fake Cisco stuff out there.

Now, this won't apply to the vast majority of you. But at some point in the future, you may find yourself having to purchase equipment for your companies if you get the job you're hoping for (otherwise, why would you be pursuing a CCNA?)

I work for an IT Reseller and Solutions provider. There's always been a small problem with counterfeits, given that Cisco is so popular and they're equipment is so expensive, it's a natural.

Traditionally, our counterfeit problems have been restricted to smaller parts, like WIC-1ENET's and WIC-1DSU's. The GLC-SX-MM mini-GBIC's are also frequently counterfeited. It can be hard to tell what's real and what's not if you don't know what to look for, and the counterfeiters are EXTREMELY good at making their product look authentic. In the case of the GLC's, it's damned near impossible to tell until you test them. And the worst part is, that one by itself will work fine, it's only when you put two or more in the machine that they won't work. One set of GLC's actually blew a port on our Catalyst 3750.. we're not real happy about that.

In the case of the WIC's, the faceplate is usually shoddy (bolts come loose easy, or are missing), and if you look at the PCB, usually the lettering won't be consistent, or you'rll have letters out of place (when we see CiscoS ystems on a WIC, it's a dead giveaway it's gonna be a fake).

Now, like I said, these folks are good. The packaging looks authentic, and if you check the serial numbers with Cisco's Service Contract Center, they'll match up with the part number. And like the GLC's, they will usually appear to work fine as long as you don't pair them. I've seen sets of 20 WIC-1ENET's that all had near perfect packaging, individual serial numbers, but if you boot them one by one and check the MAC addresses for the cards... they're all the same.

But the crowning achievement came in the last few weeks. Two seperate incoming orders, from two different vendors in two different countries. One order had 50 Cisco1721's, the other had 20 Cisco2621XM's. All were what appeared to be factory sealed. Cisco tape, Cisco box, all appeared to be perfect. The only real giveaway was the lettering on the Cisco label.. it was a much larger font than what we normally see. Well, we sold about half the 2621's, and within a week they *all* came back as defective. Our company doesn't open Factory Sealed boxes, since they're not supposed to have been opened or tampered with, having come from Cisco. Well they found a way to fake that as well. On a hunch, our lead engineer had us open the 1721's.... every single one of them were fake. Since we could now actually play with the routers to see what was wrong with them, we found some obvious signs. For one, the bare metal parts appear to be alot cheaper. They're so dull that when placed next to a real router, the difference is glaringly obvious. Second, the colors on the labels for the Ethernet ports, console and aux ports are much darker than what you see on a real router. Once you open the case up, you can tell the internal fan is a cheap POS (if you don't know the difference between a good fan and a bad fan... well Cisco doesn't put stickers on the top of their fans, so that's another deadgiveaway). The other major indicator is that the LED's are *GLUED* into place. Another big indicator is if the paintjob is smooth. Cisco uses a textured paint

The worst part is, these fakes stand up to a quick and dirty field test. We slapped some WIC's into the routers and booted them. Alot of the 1721's just died and refused to boot, but some would. All of the 2621's booted and saw the wic cards just fine. To all appearances, the router was shoddy workmanship, but authentic (that's what some of our salespeople tried to pull anyway... Cisco does do their manufacturing in about 11 different countries, so there is some small variances here and there, but nothing that major)

When we hooked them up to each other or to a real network, they crapped all over themselves.

As a result of this, my companies policy on what we'll accept has changed.
Anything that's not from the US and is factory sealed we will open and test and then reseal in the original packaging. We also require that all factory sealed overseas purchases have the Cisco hologram (haven't seen any fakes sporting it *yet*, but we're not taking any chances and will still open it). All the counterfeits we've seen, without any variance, have come from vendors in Asia. Our european and stateside vendors have been just dandy. As such, we now pay *very* close attention to what comes in from Asia.

The moral of the story is that if you see supposedly new equipment at an amazing price.... be very very paranoid. And if you have to order something internationally, insist that the pieces be shipped so you can inspect them for quality before you pay. Reputable vendors will usually do so, but if anyone gets defensive, you do not need to be buying from that person.
= Marcus Drakonblayde
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Comments

  • tunerXtunerX ■■■□□□□□□□ Posts: 447Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    We haven't run into that problem where I work, since we get direct from Cisco. But I have heard about counterfeit wics like the DSU and ENET being sold on Ebay. Supposedly they will last for a little while then stop functioning.

    You have to figure that since most of the boards and chips are printed in Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Phillipines, and Indonesia, and there really isn't any enforcement over there, that people will press "identical" boards from the leftover components that don't pass QC.

    I saw it all the time when I was in Korea and Taiwan.
  • DrakonblaydeDrakonblayde Posts: 542Member
    Yeah, unfortunately since we also sell used equipment, we can't buy direct from Cisco. And some of our sales people are trying to make a quick buck and jump at the good deals in order to resell for a much higher profit. Fortunately, they're held accountable for bad merchandise and it comes out of their commission hehe

    I'm also thankful that my company has enough integrity to not sell the counterfit stuff when we know it's fake. Unfortunately, we're having to eat the loss on the 2621's, but we hadn't paid for the 1721's yet. Right now the debate is if we're going to return them (on the one hand we should, on the other, the dude is probably just going to propagate them back out into the market) or just junk them.
    = Marcus Drakonblayde
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    CCNP-O-Meter:
    =[0%]==[25%]==[50%]==[75%]==[100%]
    ==[X]===[X]====[ ]=====[ ]====[ ]==
    =CCNA==BSCI==BCMSN==BCRAN==CIT=
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