back to article Customs warns of killer consoles

Customs is warning shoppers looking for bargains this Christmas not to be fooled into buying fake Nintendo DS and DS Lite machines. HMRC has seized hundreds of dodgy machines at freight depots around the country. Nintendo has confirmed the machines are counterfeit and that the power supplies had not been tested and were …


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  1. Kenny Millar


    Yeah, right.

  2. Martin Lyne


    ..the consoles actually *work*?

  3. Rob Crawford

    Are they

    truely fakes or are they like Levi jeans et al, the full product but destined for the far eastern market ?

  4. Nursing A Semi

    Something doesn't add up

    Saw the customs woman on the news this morning, she stated that the dodgy DS boxes only contrain the console, no paperwork or power supply like with the genuine article.

    Then warned that the power supplies are dodgy and could cause fires!

  5. censored

    Or how about...?

    The iQue DS is the Chinese made, non-counterfiet and fully compatible version. Can be found on eBay for less than the "real" Western model.

  6. EdWeb

    They may be counterfeit...

    ...but do they work the same? Surely they can't work as well as a DS, if at all?

  7. Kevin Fairhurst

    At best, these consoles would have led to disappointment on Christmas morning

    "I wanted a PSP, how old do you think I am, four??"

  8. Matt

    Power supply.

    It seems the power supply hasn't been tested by Ninetendo. So there's no evidence to suggest it is dangerous. There's just no record of any testing having been done.

    I'm not saying we should buy counter-fits but trying to say they'll cause fires when there's no evidence just makes them look silly and make people less likely to believe anything else they say.

  9. EdwardP
    Flame they work?

    Forget Health and Safety, they're the department who cried wolf time and time again, and now I can't take anything they say seriously. Incidentally, the same goes for political correctness, it might have been a good idea once, but when you use it to suppress free speech, somethings gone terribly wrong.

    Now, onto these consoles, are you telling me I can pick up a working DS/whatever for a fraction of the price? and all I have to put up with is cheap hardware?

    Where do I sign up?

  10. Anonymous Coward


    After a quick search it appears that the iQue DS is made for the Chinese market and has a larger firmware chip to contain the Chinese character set. It plays chinese and other region games. Hmmmm, either i've read some dodgy websites (wikipedia, or HMRC doesn't like the parallel importing of the iQue DS and wants people to fork out for the UK version.

    Don't worry - people in this country will gladly pay *more* for the same thing! I think Vista is too cheap, i'd easily pay £1k for some Aero interface.

    At least the iQue *appears* to be better than the MiWi, Vii or whatever the next Wii knock-off console is.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    not counterfeit

    if you turn it on and it says DS then it is the real thing, counterfeiting the silicon would cost far more than buying the real thing. (scanning, tunnelling electron microscope to reveal each layer of the chip, time spent working out the layer interconnects, 8 billionUSD fabrication plant to make the chips etc.)

    These will be asian market consoles which retail at a lot less than we have to pay.

    Refuse to buy any **ntendo or **aystation console (uk market or not) and complain to the companies concerned until they stop ripping us off.

    The power supplies might not be CE marked, a process by which someone declares that the item in question conforms to standard (and any idiot can do that, google CE marking) which would make the whole thing, PSU and console illegal as they are intended to be used together.

    That is where Customs and Excise come in.

    The things bursting into flames/electricuting your offspring is a Trading Standards issue.

    If I were to buy one of these things, I would tell the retailer to ditch the packaging and PSU and just send me the console. (as for instructions, if you need them then perhaps a games console is not what you need)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Factory next door...

    What's the betting they came out the factory next door? That had borrowed all the schematics etc. and was knocking them out without big N knowing? Bit like they do with Nike trainers etc. exactly the same, just not sanctioned.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Like all government depratments, police departments and trade bodies, they seem to be smoking crack when they do their math.

    Yes this hall was worth 50 billion pounds! Really, it was.

    I mean why do reporters even report such blatent bulls--t?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    ...but do they work the same?

    Yes they do, the only thing crappy is the power supply, if they supply the original 2 pin one with the adapter then all is fine and dandy, but if they give you a replacement one UK type 3 pin one then your screwed.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    "Counterfeit"? Yea right!

    The actual DS itself is highly unlikely to be counterfeit. It's not like you could cobble one together from off-the-shelf parts.

    What's more likely is they're genuine units with an el-cheapo, unapproved UK-compatible power supply thrown in.

    I've heard of some being shipped over with no power supply at all. Is calling the whole lot counterfeit an attempt to justify seizing those (perfectly legal) units as well?

  16. Anonymous Coward


    It works the same way as 'freetards' downloading music..

    Just because you're a cheapskate buying a counterfeit product, it doesn't mean you're prepared to go out and buy the real thing.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iQue DS is better

    That Chinese DS compatible can play multi-region games, it's not only cheaper it's better. As to the power supply, the Chinese know how to make power supplies it's just the two flat pin plug version with an adaptor I guess ? The one that's used by billions of Chinese without massive deaths?!

    Seriously UK plugs are HUGE, way over-engineered, the UK plug for an iPod is bigger than the iPod! Somehow the rest of the world manages to get by with far smaller, simpler plugs without a noticeable difference in electrocution rates!

    It also looks a lot better:

    I assume the complaint is the trademark infringements (use of DS and two sequares logo). However Customs seems to know that's not convincing and tries to make out it's a safety issue.

    I reckon Customs should not be enforcing civil trademark rights of Nintendo at the expense of UK consumers. It's for Nintendo to sue the importers. If they lose then UK people would have been unjustly punished for buying the iQue.

    If UK customers are importing it themselves, then what real claim is there for Customs to prevent it's import?? Can they show a legal action to declare the trademark infringing, or do they just flip a coin and decide what to allow in or not?

    Or have we forgotten that Compaq is a clone of IBM? What if Customs decided that Compaq would be snuffed out at birth for cloning the IBM PC??

  18. Stu

    Counterfeit, or reverse engineered for cost effectiveness?

    Interesting that Customs are carrying out these interceptions and siezing, simply because it doesn't hold one of those CE certifications within the UK.

    Nintendo are essentially directly benefitting from Government funding gone to these jokers at Customs - all they're doing is forcing the public into buying the Nintendo originals. Safety aspects aside, they are restricting free choice to buy whatever we, as the public, want.

    I would wager these suckers are sold over in the Asia markets and aren't killing anybody, what with their supposedly sub-standard power supplies, which dont actually come with the power supplies (good point 'Nursing A Semi').

    You just don't hear stories about people in the Asian territories being killed left right and centre by these things.

    I know nothing about the compatibility with existing titles, but I'd wager the 'counterfeitters' source the chip and board components directly from the same place Ninty do, with the exception that (we know) they don't mark the price up by 200%.

    The chips themselves (+other bits) cannot be manufacured by the counterfeitters, so they must be sourcing from semiconductor companies that can't realistically be of (much) lower quality and in most cases could very well be the exact same chips Ninty use.

    I do, however, object to how they are marketted online, but it should be obvious to anybody that there is something amiss if they're 40% the price of legitimate Ninty products imported from Asia, but at least then you would still have the choice.

    This whole link that Customs makes with counterfeitters and organised crime or terrorism is, again, really stupid!

    The only thing I can think could be wrong with them is that the batteries might be of cheaper build, and explode. But such cases of exploding lithium Ions, albeit high profile it seems, are actually rare, and happen just as readily within 'legitimate' products as counterfeit products.


    Thanks UK Customs for essentially limitting my power as a consumer, and with false arguments too!

  19. spam
    Thumb Up

    £9bn a year

    "HMRC reckons the trade in counterfeit goods costs the UK economy £9bn a year"

    Which means UK punters must be saving £9bn a year and that is a bad thing?

  20. Pie

    wasn't there a boy killed a few months ago

    By a faulty DS adapter his parents had brought when he was on holiday in thailand?

    These of course are probably perfectly safe and the consoles themselves will be if you supply your own UK adapter.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You can't sell something in the UK (or Europe) without a CE certificate to prove it is safe, by definition without that certificate it is unsafe, or rather not proven to be safe and therefore shouldn't be sold. It's all very well saying that the people making the power supply probably know how to make a power supply, but that's little comfort when your house has burned down and your kids are dead.

    Whoever said that the UK has comprable electrocution rates to the rest of the world is talking out of his nether regions. I have used US plugs and know may others who have and got shocks on a fairly regular occasion. The UK plug, while large, is known around the world for its safety, particularly at high current.

    As for whoever suggested that illigal import of a discounted console isn't a problem because the people won't have purchased one at full price, therefore there is no loss to Nintendo. I really don't know what to say, other than it doesn't matter if they weren't going to shell out the full price, it's still not right to do it.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK Adapters Readily Available

    As the only issue seems to be with the power supply, I can recommend buying a replacement one on fleabay. That's what we did when we lost our's - which was a French one in any case - and it has worked flawlessly ever since. Think it cost about a fiver. The price of an imported iQue DS Lite plus a fiver for the replacement power supply < a UK spec DS from Argos (by a considerable margin).

  23. Steve

    if you try to sell something that seems to good to be true, then make it seem less good!

    * “when a bargain seems too good to be true it actually is”

    * Fakes “retailed for around £40 rather than the usual price of £100 “

    If I were a faker then I would sell for £90 to give the appearance of authenticity – many more punters and MUCH more profit !!!!!

    @ Neil Morgan

    Is reverse engineering a chip really needed to display “DS” on startup? How difficult is it to program a crappy little processor to do the same?

  24. Dave


    I think it emerged that he had unplugged it while still wet from swimming, or something similar. Of course by the time that came to be common knowledge nobody cared anymore and it had already been blamed on a dodgy foreign power unit.

  25. Tim Miller


    Is a Nintendo company and trade name. These aren't fake Nintendo products, these are Nintendo products meant for another market.

  26. David Bell

    Foreign DS's

    I got my DS-Lite while passing through Singapore a few years back.

    PSU was usless as it had the wrong plug on it, so I have been charging it via USB for years.

    I agree, Customs and Excise should not be playing Trade Police.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Grey import thing!

    Like it hapened to levis jeans, Tesco, Perfume importers, Apple iphones etc etc.

    Was the lady on this morning's TV show (from HMRC) the same one who got made redundant yesterdy when Brownies decided to close 90 offices? She then hooped over to Sky news later spielling out the same scaremongering. Dodgy plugs are trading standards' problems, not customs and excise. Is she paid by HMRC offices for doing this on a working day?

    How can she claim about customs impounding these legitimate imports ? Is it legal ??

    Please enlighten.

    Even Paris can spot a ripoff !

  28. Anonymous Coward

    They're not fake

    They are not fake DS's, they are the genuine article, but come without a PSU. The PSU's shipped with these DS's are flakey.

    The customs rep on the BBC this morning seemed to be misleading the audience by claiming the DS itself was a fake... this isn't the case.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Power sources -- that's the challenge!

    Wait, let me get this straight. So these guys are able to counterfeit all the components required to build the console, but they've been utterly unable to figure out how to build the damned power source. Which, in completely unrelated news, is the one single piece of equipment in the entire kit which could possibly pose any sort of threat to the user. FUD, anyone?

  30. David Hicks

    Can you say "Grey market hysterics"?

    This is just like sony getting all upset about the PSP being imported to the UK faster and cheaper by grey marketeers buying them in the far east.

    Can't have the brits getting their consoles at a reasonable price! Hell no! This is rip-off Britain and we can make three times the profit in this market. All they'll do is whine a little, but they're a population so worn down and used to overpaying that they'll accept it just fine! I'm just surprised nobody's in court over this yet.

    Yup, this is the blunt end of globalisation - we can sell where we like, but don't you try and use the same systems to get the best price on anything from somewhere else, oh no. Globalisation is for the advantage of the likes of Sony and Nintendo, not small traders or individuals, that would be wrong.


  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Neil Morgan

    "if you turn it on and it says DS then it is the real thing,"

    I found a program called a emulator on the internet, i turned it on and it said ds, does that mean that my pc is a real ds now?

  32. Dave

    Re: region locks

    Errr, Nintendo DS and DS Lite are NOT region locked! You can play any game on them from any territory. If you couldn't how can I be playing my Canadian bought games on a UK console?!

    The next iteration of the DS will likely have region locking in place because they want to do movies or music or something of the sort (story was on the Reg I think).

    Not sure how well a UK DS would cope with the Chinese character set though ;)

  33. Paul Talbot

    Easy solution...

    "HMRC reckons the trade in counterfeit goods costs the UK economy £9bn a year."

    Maybe they should stop selling the "real" f***ers for so much here then... I can get a DS for nearly 50% less from a legit Asian supplier (especially if I go there and haggle), but local retailers are forbidden from importing them. Even the playing field, and people won't be so tempted to buy from illegitimate sources. Same with CD, games, etc - we're ripped off constantly so we look for ways to not get ripped off. If this involves less-than-legit merchandise, so be it.

  34. Stevie


    Once more Chinese ingenuity at cutting production costs threatens the lives of tax payers!

    No doubt the casings will prove to be coloured with lead paint and the electronics probably give off mutagenic radiation during play.

    Something must be done!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Counterfeit goods also cause considerable damage to the UK economy by undermining genuine UK retailers and small businesses who are honest and abide by the rules."

    Counterfeit as in parallel import, right? Yes, UK retailers are undermined by parallel imports but the UK economy isn't. In fact the economy as a whole is better off because more money can be spent on other goody goods. It all just depends on ones point of view.

    If there weren't the dodgy power supplies for Chinese market. Probably they will kill UK children and other bastards. Just consider the Chinese population and how many (little) will buy such a console. Let's face it, they can easily cope with some fatalities. Or to quote Mao: China can risk a nuclear war because there will be enough Chinese left afterwards...


  36. Anonymous Coward

    I can't see the relevance

    of the Children of the Damned screen grab that goes with this story.

    A picture of Captain Jack Sparrow would be more appropriate surely?

  37. Geoff Mackenzie

    Safety, right.

    So buy a 'fake' DS, then buy a UK-approved appropriately rated PSU; problem solved.

    Of course that's always assuming that the problem exists in the first place. What proportion of these PSUs would have had UK safety certificates if they'd been tested? I'd hazard a guess at all of them. It's not like the PSU you get with the UK version is lovingly hand made from the finest ingredients by a family business down the road - they're cheap imported crap as well.

  38. neil

    Market differential...

    Thats what this is about, the UK price is what the RETAILERS think the market can stand, Nintendo probably make a bit more, but most is the RETAILERS profit.

    I worked for a major electronics importer in the 80's, factory gate price for one item was ~£16 each, add some shipping costs and import duty + vat and a 50% mark up ~£35, the TRADE price was ~£90 and RETAIL ~£185!

    Grey market items are legal imports not supported by manufacturer bought elseware and shipped in, legal in the US but effectively illegal here because of the CE mark requirement.

    Perhaps its the short fall of VAT and import duty thats behind the Customs activity!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mis-Information AGAIN!

    I have to say that the reports on this are highly mis-leading.

    There is no evidence that the PSU's blow up. They are just saying it is a possibility. By the same token, it's also a possibility that the PSU will get up in the middle of the night, load your car up with your TV/Video/DVD/Computer and anything else it likes and go off for a drive to a 2nd hand shop. It's not likely to happen, but it's a possibility.

    Even if the PSU's haven't been tested, that is not a basis to stop them coming in. They can however stop the one's that break the copyright law (IE using Nintendo's logo's and name). As said before, ask for no PSU and get one in this country.

    I hate it when they spin these stories up to the point that you can't believe the media. I think we should plug these PSU's in HMRC offices over the xmas period to see what happens, unfortunately I suspect that the offices will still be there in the new year. It's still a win-win situation!

  40. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


    "As for whoever suggested that illigal (sic) import of a discounted console isn't a problem because the people won't have purchased one at full price, therefore there is no loss to Nintendo. I really don't know what to say, other than it doesn't matter if they weren't going to shell out the full price, it's still not right to do it."

    Damn! It seems that these days even just potentially being able to use the "free market" (as opposed to just having to submit to a taxation system with a slightly squalid 'free market' sticker on it) is laden with moral implications.

    On the other hand, if these consoles "fell off a truck" somewhere, then reappeared, then it's another question.

  41. john oates

    More from HMRC


    I've just phoned Customs in response to these comments.

    First of all they're insisting these are fakes, not just grey imports. But some of them are "grey dragon" machines destined for, the spokesman thought, for the Japanese market - these also had a dubious power supply.

    The power supply is dodgy - a British kid was injured by a similar power supply used on a different console bought in Thailand.

    As for the cost of reverse engineering such a console - as another commenter said these often come from the same factory using cheaper materials.



  42. Psycho Flump

    Qué título?

    Even half asleep at whatever time the HMRC woman was on BBC Breakfast this morning I could smell BS. On the one hand she was saying these things were counterfeit, then in the next breath she said they'd never been released in the UK, implying they'd been released _somewhere_ legally. No different from my Japanese import PSP, that came with a non-UK adapter and so far it's not hit me over the head or killed my goldfish or even set itself on fire.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: what john oates said

    This would seem to be similar to the fake drugs that have been becoming a serious problem - they are made in the same factories as the genuine, after hours, but without the quality control or permission of the owning company.

    @Destroy All Monsters - still think it's an acceptable thing to do? Import non-tested ripped off hardware where no royalties to the creator have been paid? I can't see how it is.

    @No evidence of PSUs blowing up AC - There doesn't need to be (although there is) because power supplies are one of the few parts of modern electronics that can seriously screw up. There are countless examples of cheapo PSUs burning, just ask MS! I also know of a couple of people who've had PSUs burn.

  44. Joe Montana


    Pamela Rogers, HMRC's Head of Intellectual Property, said: "At best, these consoles would have led to disappointment on Christmas morning; at worst, they could have caused serious harm or injury.

    Simply not true, on christmas morning i doubt these consoles would have any higher failure rate than the "genuine" nintendo ones. If anything, kids would be better off because their parents may not have been willing/able to afford the more expensive £100 unit, or might use the £60 they saved to buy the kids other gifts including more games to play on the new console. As has already been pointed out, these are actually genuine nintendo products being sold, that were intended for the chinese market.

    "Counterfeit goods also cause considerable damage to the UK economy by undermining genuine UK retailers and small businesses who are honest and abide by the rules."

    No they don't... "counterfeit" goods only exist because the "originals" have excessively high profit margins, such that it is still profitable for a third party to supply the same goods at a lower price. Typically it is only very large companies that produce such products. In this case both the companies involved are foreign, thus buying the cheaper version keeps more money in the UK and actually helps the UK economy. It is only Nintendo, and by extension the Japanese economy that benefits from the higher priced goods.

    HMRC reckons the trade in counterfeit goods costs the UK economy £9bn a year.

    It costs a selection of large companies who overcharge for their products £9bn a year, which by extension means that UK citizens save £9bn a year by buying the cheaper goods.

    This case is not even counterfeiting, it is importing goods for sale in another country because the existing importers are trying to gouge UK consumers. A lot of this goes on, and it is absolutely sickening to see the government wasting resources to prop up this underhanded price gouging that goes on in this country.

  45. Schultz


    How cool is that, some FPS action in the living room!

    But then I have yet to see an exploding power supply, most would just burn out their fuse, or the next sensitive element if made by BeQuiet. Sounds more like a company defending some geographically diverse market with some orange terror alerts.

  46. Lol Whibley

    thank you all

    i now know something that i didn't know about an hour ago.

    The BBC do TV in the Morning? Who'da thought it!

    mine's the one with the 5v USB cable in the pocket..

  47. Kevin

    Heres the thing

    Theres a good chance these are probably the DS's that failed inspection and were thrown in the to be destroyed bin for some reason. So yes you might get a perfectly fine system that only has a cosmetic glitch or there might be a problem with a processor when certain games are fired up which if this is the case as its highly likely some of them could be a potential hazard by overcharging the battery or shorting it.

    Or there breaking in at night and firing up Nintendo's factory and punching out extra chips like I believe they were doing with the counterfeit Cisco gear awhile back.

  48. ratfox


    Doing that with Vuitton bags is one thing, doing that with a game console...

    It's probably about impossible to do it without being the Chinese factory actually making the consoles for Nintendo in the first place, I would think? Maybe Nintendo should ask its suppliers a couple of questions?

    I say, the only way to be sure is for some enterprising journalist to buy one of these "fakes", open it and compare!

  49. ratfox

    @Joe Montana

    " No they don't... "counterfeit" goods only exist because the "originals" have excessively high profit margins, such that it is still profitable for a third party to supply the same goods at a lower price. "

    Your analysis is kind of misleading, considering it can cost millions to design a new product which can be mass-produced cheap afterward.

    I admit I feel Louis Vuitton bags to be way overpriced, no matter how well they're designed. But Nintendo did have to work for a long time to design the Wii... So I believe they are entitled to make a fair profit on each console (of course, definition of "fair" vary wildly)

  50. mhj

    POPstation et al?

    Are these crap like the various 'popstation' and 'neo double games' that ashens reviews?

  51. RaelianWingnut


    I'm a big supporter of mutagenic radiation during play. Tentacles FTW!

  52. Steve

    Exploding power supplies

    ... are not limited to illegitimate counterfeit goods; remember the kerfuffle with Playstation recently? (my work colleague says one of his went up in smoke) Even that pales against exploding batteries. The only real difference between a legitimate and fake power supply is that only one of these will be recalled if there is a genuine design/manufacturing problem.

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