Counterfeit Nikon Battery Charger – Part 1

In the world of eBay, you really do have to be careful. I try my best, but when shopping on price – often you will snag a counterfeit here and there. This morning, I was delivered a counterfiet Nikon MH-24 battery charger for my EN-EL14. I had actually chosen to purchase a slightly more expensive charger based on the seller listing it as OEM where in reality it wasn’t.

I have censored my address above but one thing already raised my suspicion as soon as I received it. Note the Singapore tracking number – on eBay I was notified my package was sent with “RA444275588CN” as the tracking number. So this seller (which I will NOT name for now) has likely lied about the tracking number and instead contracted 4PX to drop-ship – an alarming number of sellers do this! The unit itself looks rather okay, except for the fact it uses the figure-eight power connector, I’m not sure if Nikon made versions with this feature.

Looking at the back of the charger is when I started to get alarmed. The font for Nikon is slightly off – this is a sign of counterfeiting. The label was on UPSIDE down! Note how the power plug enters the BOTTOM of the shot above. And the serial number on fakes are often the same – in fact, here’s four images from other sellers online:

(Sourced: http://img.alibaba.com/photo/509364812/MH_24_EN_EL14_Battery_Charger_for_Nikon_COOLPIX_Camera.jpg)

(Sourced: http://i01.i.aliimg.com/img/pb/930/212/474/474212930_515.jpg)

(Sourced: http://www.papabankshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/MH24-1.jpg)

(Sourced: http://www.kennylio.com/ebay/photo/Nikon_MH-24_2.JPG)

Same serial number! Serial numbers are supposed to be unique. There is no way a legitimate item should have duplicate serial numbers! I think the seller might have realized this, because in his listing he cropped the picture so as not to show the serial number!

To add insult to injury – this thing didn’t even work! It had a suspiciously thin mains lead, and plugging it into power and a genuine EN-EL14 battery resulted in no LED lighting up at all! I did try a working Australian figure-eight cable, and still, no change.

At least there wasn’t an explosion, or smoke, or strange sounds – as has happened previously with some of my eBay counterfeits. In all honesty, this is not always the seller’s entire fault – they often relist the items from somewhere else, without checking the quality and authenticity of the goods, or their drop-shippers cheat them. I won’t judge too harshly here, except to say this is not the way to a Merry Christmas – that’s for sure.

So, lets compare the MH-24 that I got with my camera with the fake – real one on the left, fake on the right:

Notice the subtly paler plastic on the fake, lack of polarity markings and rather “faded” silver print.

Notice the serial number fudgery as noted before, as well as the font on Nikon. Also note the screw head and the label shape which skirts around a swing-out bi-pin connection rather than the figure-eight lead connector of the other one.

Update: Contact was made with the seller which swiftly resolved the situation with a full refund. He explained the reasoning behind the choice of Singapore post, and also informed me that he will be pursuing the suppliers over the serial number issue.

Update 2: Part 2 has been published, with a comparison of the insides of these chargers.

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9 Responses to Counterfeit Nikon Battery Charger – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Counterfeit Nikon Battery Charger – Part 2 | Gough's Tech Zone

  2. Mike says:

    Thanks, I got one I suspect may be counterfeit as it came with what looks like exact EL-14A batteries you describe elsewhere as counterfeit – however it isn’t the same as this charger, nothing upside down for example. However, posting here as I asked Nikon who say their standalone chargers do indeed use figure-eight power connector; also they say these units do not have serial numbers and the lower right number in white may be a batch number and identical number on multiple units is not an indication of counterfeit.

    • lui_gough says:

      Thanks for the information. I haven’t encountered two legitimate chargers with the same number myself, so maybe I get ones from different batches even though I have three genuine MH-24 chargers. That being said, the key difference really is in the internals – if you open it up, the amount of intelligence and logic in a genuine charger far surpasses that of the counterfeit clones, which in turn, should improve reliability and safety.

      – Gough

  3. Mike says:

    Thanks, mine charges a battery in about 3 hours as opposed to the swivel-prong unit that came with my D330 which takes about 2, whereas a comment in your teardown page for this unit suggests it should take 12 hours if it worked, so I suspect the internals are different even if it’s counterfeit… but I’m not going to look inside… my concern is the EL-14A’s that came with it ,.

    I sent Nikon pictures of both my MH-24 and EL-14A and will post once response is received [the EL-14A’s have the same truncated word ‘short’ on the back you describe in your thread on that counterfeit… though the hologram does color shift].

    • lui_gough says:

      Sounds like they keep changing their techniques. Best of luck with working it out – the better they get at it, the harder it is to spot, and you’ll only know if 6-months later, it suddenly stops charging with an error on the charger or short battery life.

      – Gough

  4. Mike says:

    that’s D3300

  5. Mike says:

    Nikon replies the photos I uploaded are not inconsistent with EOM MH-24 and EL-14a’s though seemingly identical to your photos, but invite me to send it and EL-14A batteries in for examination to determine for sure. I’m posting more details and questions in your 14a thread.

    • lui_gough says:

      I’d have to say that sometimes, companies don’t know their products well enough and you might not be dealing with specialists. If you’re familiar enough with the products, you should be able to tell quite easily – they don’t put out products with bad text for example.

      The easiest way to try and spot a counterfeit battery without destroying it is using a set of high accuracy scales. For reference, I decided to do the experiment today and this is my results:
      Genuine EN-EL14 = 47.64g
      Fake EN-EL14 (Type 1) = 42.61g
      Fake EN-EL14 (Type 2) = 45.84g

      Genuine EN-EL14a = 48.19g
      Fake EN-EL14a = 41.86g

      As a result, it seems the fake cells weigh a decent amount less than the original cells, although this variation is subtle and without a decent set of scales, may not be easily revealed. Unfortunately Nikon doesn’t publish what the actual weight is supposed to be.

      – Gough

  6. Mike says:

    my batteries weight corresponds to your reports, at 48g vs 41.8g

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