"Designed by Abble": UL warns USB chargers bear counterfeit UL mark

By on March 15, 2013, 5:30 PM

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has issued a public notice, warning consumers about an untold number of counterfeit iPhone, iPad and iPod USB power adapters for sale. These unauthorized adapters bear a counterfeit "UL" certification mark and have not actually been tested to meet UL's safety standards.

The two USB power adapters in question are marked with the same model number as a genuine Apple charger (A1265) and are very similar in appearance and markings. In fact, the shameless set of knock-offs claim to be "Designed Abble in California" or "Designed by China in California". Genuine Apple chargers authorized by the UL say, "Designed by Apple in California" by comparison.

These likely aren't the only USB chargers out there which mistakenly purport to be "UL certified", but knock-offs are to be expected when Apple's genuine adapters sell for about $29. However, third-party accessories should never claim to be UL certified without actually being so.

Last year, a teardown by Ken Shirriff revealed Apple's adapter is a high-quality device. Even so though, the total bill of materials for its USB adapter was something less than $4.66, making Apple's markup on the device substantial.

"There are strict rules governing the separation of dangerous line voltage and safe output voltage. There's supposed to be 3-4mm of 'creepage' and 'clearance.' Apple's charger exceeds that requirement at 6mm, while the off-brand device has less than 1mm." said Shirriff.

"I wondered how this [knock-off] power supply could have met the UL standards," Shirriff said. "It didn't list any safety certifications, or even a manufacturer. I suddenly realized that purchasing the cheapest possible charger on eBay from an unknown manufacturer in China could actually be a safety hazard. Note that this sub-millimeter gap is all that's protecting you and your phone from potentially-lethal 340 volts," he warned.

Source: Is Apple's USB wall adapter really worth $29

UL is an Illinois-based, science and technology safety certification organization who began in 1894. The organization has long been responsible for drafting numerous safety standards, including validating, testing, inspecting and auditing various electronics produced and sold in over a hundred countries worldwide.




User Comments: 9

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psycros psycros said:

Of course a wall adapter isn't worth $29 dollars. Almost *Nothing* Apple sells is worth the asking price. That said, I would gladly pay a *small* premium for their hardware vs competitors for the build quality and ease-of-use factor. Unfortunately, Apple is addicted to high margins and while there are signs that Cook may be cheapening their products, don't expect prices to drop accordingly.

Guest said:

A $100 price difference between the Google Nexus 7 and the Apple iPad Mini is hardly a *small* difference in premium, especially when you read the online reviews......

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Would anyone like to buy my very gently used Abble mePad?

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Can we expect UL to go after all the other manufacturers selling inherently unsafe powersupplies for all sorts of devices for computers and whatnot now?

Because this has been an issue for as long as I've been in IT

Fake labels, be it the Swedish, Finnish & Danish (S, F, D marks)

The UL marks or the famous "CE" mark which when having the wrong separation between the letters actually stands for "China Export"

Bleh, what's a burned down house and a couple of dead bodies when you can fake a safety mark and sell your chinese crap making a couple cents more profit?

nismo91 said:

I know the danger of a fake charger, therefore I'll always stay away from counterfeit and cheap charger. I'd rather use older genuine Nokia / Sony Ericsson chargers laying at my disposal. Most of them are rated at 5V (mA rating differs).

with a little soldering skills, multimeter and 30cents female USB connector, those charger have been given a new life. sometimes I even used one of those to power a small notebook fan to blow my wifi router. the charger itself barely gets warm under 24/7 operation.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Can we expect UL to go after all the other manufacturers selling inherently unsafe powersupplies for all sorts of devices for computers and whatnot now?
Well, the the RIAA and MPAA aren't going to do it for them...!:p

Bleh, what's a burned down house and a couple of dead bodies when you can fake a safety mark and sell your chinese crap making a couple cents more profit?
There, there not, why all the hostility? Look on the "bright side", (pun intended). If you want to stage an insurance fire, "Abble" could be your go to company.

In fact, this product, and the many others like it, could precipitate the update of an ancient stereotypical pejorative term for an intentionally set fire.

I think Abble should begin to market these little exploding gems under the name, "Chinese Lightning Chargers". Catchy name, huh? (Again, pun intended).

And face it, these would be far superior to rubbing two Boy Scouts together to start a fire.

Anyway, I'm giving everybody one last chance on a great deal, my gently used Abble "mePad".

misor misor said:

Lol, almost every Chinese-made knock offs I've seen bears the UL mark.

although cheap, some are of good quality, at least the ones I used , (external) looks the same with pricier "original" products certified by UL.

since I read that the internal parts of the knock offs have little surge protection, I now use a voltage surge protector. (with UL-certification marks from somewhere.. rolls eyes here )

Dr.No said:

It's not just power adaptors; it's UTP cable used for LAN as well.

See article: [link]

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

It's not just power adaptors; it's UTP cable used for LAN as well.
You people do understand that UL gets a licensing fee for every device it allows the UL logo to be used on, right?

So that means, that every time somebody puts a fake approval on a device, they commit a "trademark infringement".

So now you have to ask yourself, is the device with the fake logo unsafe, or is UL labs pissed off because they're not getting their "royalties"?

In the case of the LAN cables you're going on about, answer this question, "have you ever grabbed a network cable, and even felt it be warm to the touch"?

At the other end of the bulls**t spectrum is "Monster Cables", who has a 2000% markup on everything they sell (*), and try and make it sound like a big favor they're selling you cables for those inflated prices. The markup on that nonsense is likely keeping Best Buy in business.

(*) 2000% is a guess but, off the top of my head, the only industry that has a higher profit margin, is most likely big pharma.

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