I will be the first to admit that I am a frequent buyer/seller of golf equipment. Sometimes new, sometimes used, sometimes from my local shops, sometimes online. I probably fall into that category that people call an "equipment junkie", but I prefer to think that this is just a part of me staying current on what's happening with my favorite hobby.
Anyway - there is a story here, so let's get started with it. Like many golfers, I carry a couple of hybrids in my bag. Unlike many golfers, it took me FOREVER to find some hybrids that I could actually hit. I tried (I am not kidding here) at least 10 different hybrids - Adams,Callaway, Ping, Titleist, Cobra, TaylorMade, Sonartec, etc.... Finally, I found a model that I could play - the TaylorMade 2007 Burner. Once I realized that I really liked these clubs, and considered how blazingly fast TM releases new models, I started to think that maybe I should purchase a "back up" set of these. When TM did indeed release the successor to the "original" Burner hybrid, I tried them out, and found that I liked the originals better. This sealed the deal for me, and my search for a backup set was on.
I decided that I would wait a little while for the new model to proliferate, thus reducing the prices of the "originals". I also decided to purchase the clubs on steel shafts, as I wished to upgrade to UST aftermarket shafts. Ultimately, I located a 3h and a 4h from two different, high volume, reputable sellers on eBay. I was able to buy both clubs for a total cost of $150 bucks - all in all a pretty sweet deal. Once I got the clubs, I inspected them and they looked great - brand new, perfect condition, still in the plastic. I was very satisfied with these products from two sellers, each of whom had over 3,000 positive feedback remarks on ebay. I then took them to my local GolfSmith store for the new shafts to be installed, and was very pleased with them when they came home.
Here is where the story gets interesting.... about 2 months afterward, I was switching my clubs from one bag to the other. For some reason, I laid the "original" 3H alongside the "backup" 3H and noticed something funny. The clubs looked noticeably different when compared side by side. Closer inspection revealed that "the backup", which I purchased from (sellers name redacted), was taller and had a different curve to the sole than the original. Puzzled, I compared the 4H set - SAME EXACT RESULT. I checked out the graphics, paint, serial number configurations - and it all checked out... but they were clearly different. A quick trip to my favorite local golf store for an inspection, and a call to TaylorMade with the serial numbers confirmed my suspicion - I was the proud owner of two counterfeit TM Burner hybrids. See the picture below for a comparison of a REAL TM product (left) with a counterfeit (right).
The amazing thing about this whole deal is that (1) I bought them from two different sellers, (2) I bought them from highly reputable, high volume sellers, and (3) both of the fakes looked EXACTLY the same. Somewhere, there is a factory cranking out a lot of very authentic looking, but fake golf clubs, folks... I have since destroyed the fake heads, and PayPal was super cool in handling the situation - full refund, no questions asked. I wish there was some great,revealing, enlightening moral to this story - but there is not. All I can offer is "caveat emptor", - because there are a lot of crooks out there...