Counterfeit Mach3 cartridges and the war on terror — and boy, my face hurts!

I’ve written about transcedent shaving on this blog before, talking about my trip to the hallowed halls of shaving at Truefitt & Hill in London, where I got a truly elegant Mach3-compatible razor in July (lovingly pictured at right). I wrote then: My Mach 3 has never felt so classy. As close as I came to touching the face of the shaving gods in London in July, I just experienced a serious karmic shaving reversal, and it’s kind of shocking.

It all started a few weeks ago when I made a bulk order for 52 (!) Mach3 cartridges from an Amazon seller. The product page said: “Stock up and Save! 52 Blades in one package. Enought [sic] to swap to a new blade once every week.” Imagine. . . not having to buy Mach3 cartridges for a whole year. Who among you Mach3 users have not dreamed of a near-endless supply of sharp-and-ready Mach3 cartridges? Sold! I don’t think I’ve ever waited for a box any more eagerly than that one.

When I got the box, there weren’t 52 cartridges — it was a few short. “Oh well,” I thought. “I’m still good until August 2007 and I don’t have time to deal with it, so I’ll just eat the difference.”

I still had a few of my existing cartridges left, so I didn’t dig into my Mach3 motherlode until last week. After tossing the last one I already had, I attached one of the not-quite-52-pack to my gorgeous Truefitt & Hill razor, did my usual old-school routine, and on the first stroke: OUCH! I thought maybe I hadn’t lathered enough, so I lathered more, and it still hurt. I eventually got the hair off my face, but I’m pretty sure a cheese grater would have worked better. It says something about a deep trust in brands that I wasn’t even aware of in myself, but I kept trying all last week, just not believing that my trusty Mach3 blades could work that poorly, and maybe it was something wrong with me.

After another horrible shaving experience with a “new” blade today, it suddenly struck me: are these things fake? A quick search for “counterfeit Mach3” made it clear that these were not my beloved Mach3’s. Enter the public servants at to lay out in excruciating detail just how screwed I (and many others, apparently) were on my bulk Mach3 purchase. Shocking.

My search also led me to testimony by Richard K. Willard, Senior VP and General Counsel for Gillette before the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate. Some quotes (definitely read the whole thing, though):

While corporations that sell well-known, branded products are the obvious and direct victims of counterfeiting, this illicit activity also poses a real threat to the livelihoods and lives of workers and consumers, though many may not realize it.

When the average American thinks about counterfeit goods, he or she may think of phony Rolex watches, fake high-fashion handbags, or cheap knock-offs of designer T-shirts. The purchasers of these items usually know the products are not originals, so they may readily conclude that buying a fake is no big deal, no harm done. What many consumers do not realize, however, is that this benign and somewhat limited picture of counterfeiting could not be farther from the truth. Counterfeiting is far more pervasive and dangerous than street vendors selling fake luxury items. In fact, only a minute portion of counterfeit goods are luxury items; most product counterfeiting has a far more immediate, and sometimes devastating, impact.

. . .

Consider for a moment the consequences should the counterfeit batteries wind up in firefighters’ flashlights and fail during a major rescue operation? The counterfeiter, a criminal, is the only one who stands to gain.

My battery example involves just one package of one product at one company. The magnitude of the problem at Gillette alone is staggering. Our lawyers are working alongside law enforcement agencies worldwide to identify and arrest counterfeiters. Recently in China, over the span of one week, we seized more than 1.5 million fake Gillette products that were destined for France, Russia, South America, the Middle East, and English-speaking nations. In one province, we seized a substantial amount of fake packaging for several of our products. In another, we recovered 100,000 counterfeit razor blades, 400,000 fake disposable razors, more than one million counterfeit Duracell batteries, and 40,000 fake Oral-B toothbrushes. Again, all of this is in just one week, in just two Chinese provinces, and involving just Gillette’s products. Imagine how much bigger the problem is for all U.S. manufacturers and for manufacturers around the world.

. . .

The danger of counterfeiting goes beyond mere financial harm and theft. Organized crime and terrorist groups use the sale of counterfeit goods to raise money for illegal activities and violence. The Basque separatist group, ETA, has been linked to the sale of counterfeit clothing and handbags. Paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland have funded terrorist activities through the sale of pirated products, including copies of Disney’s The Lion King. Protection rackets in Italy no longer demand just money from retailers; instead, they want shelf space to sell counterfeit goods. Most alarming is that those who aim to terrorize United States citizens look to counterfeiting to help them achieve their deadly goal: Seized Al Qaeda training manuals recommend the sale of fake goods as a financing source for its terrorism.

Did you know that your shaving-related purchases could be unwittingly supporting terrorism (gasp!)? Mach3 counterfeiting must be stopped — we definitely need to move all those law enforcement resources focused on the Microsoft Windows piracy beat over to this one. A stolen copy of Windows XP never caused facial irritation and general discomfort.

It’s a strange feeling when you glimpse into a world of deceitful corruption that you didn’t even know existed.

I’m headed to my local Walgreen’s right now to pick up some new Mach3 cartridges. I guess I’ll get back to buying them 12 at a time and keep my eyes peeled for terrorist toothpaste.

Update: I also found this document (PDF) entitled “Global Protection of Patents,” in which the Mach3 is mentioned. Check out slide 33 (just after slide 32, which states “Let Your Lawyer Loose Across the Business”), which begins a few slides about the “The Most Successful Consumer Product Ever” and the 63 patents protecting the Mach3. This appears to be a presentation from attorneys from Ernst and Young, Johnson & Johnson, and Gillette at the Advanced Patent Law Institute in November 2005. Having now shaved with a fake Mach3, I have a little more respect for patent enforcement.

35 thoughts on “Counterfeit Mach3 cartridges and the war on terror — and boy, my face hurts!

  1. No wonder UBL and all his Taliban buddies have long whiskers. Razor blade pricing is as criminal as the Corleone Olive Oil importation business though. I hope that you let Amazon know and shafted the reputation of the reseller.

  2. Did you get these blades from “youngzebra” on Amazon? I fell victim to the same scam. Did you get a refund?

  3. This is exactly what happened to me. I tend to buy my blades when I have one left on the cartridge, and oh boy, imagine my surprise (Horror?) when the “new” blade was more blunt then my 2 week old one! *******(Fill in the appropriate curse!)
    Anyway, long story short, I contacted Gillette, stated they came from a small local co-op store (franchise run, not large branch) and they were kind enough to send me a £10 voucher, and requested the fakes sent back to them.
    One thing Gillette did advise was to purchase them from a large retailer, namely Boots and large supermarkets.
    I have no problem with shopping (pardon the expression) in the co-op store I purchased the fakes from. Afterall, they are making an extra profit and my expense and pain.

  4. I just came across your website as I was looking for reviews on the Truefitt & Hill razors. My boyfriend and I also found the T&H store in London and I had considered buying him this razor for the upcoming holidays. Would you recommend it? Did you like this one more than the thicker handle of the regency style?

  5. A helpful note: Costco sells these in packs of about, oh, four or five cartridge packs. Not counterfeit, and a bit cheaper per unit.

    I still detest paying for blades. I’d get a straight razor if I didn’t think my kids would hurt themselves on it.

  6. I know this forum is a bit outdated, but I bought 48 blades on ebay for $43, and they are the real deal! The only catch was that the package was written in nothing but Spanish. Big Freakin Deal, the blades work just fine, I got 3 regular, and 1 turbo in all 12-4 packs!

  7. I bought 24 Mach 3 blades last March 2006 from someone in Hong Kong. I din’t use them right away but when I did I noticed right away that the new ones I bought were dull and not as sharp as a worn out real Mach 3. They fit a bit different on the razor itself and the slime strips fell off.

    Needless to say I bid again a couple weeks ago March 2007 on 40 blades thinking this can’t happen twice. Well it did and I learned my lesson. NO MORE EBAY BOGUS MACH 3’s FOR ME. I just can’t understand why all the positive feedback for dull bad blades and why Ebay or Gillette doesn’t do more.

    I consider myself lucky after a battle with the seller I was able to get about 3/4 of my money back.

  8. Bought 50 blades from Sun Auctions on AMAZON…first time out, I thought I was using a 2 week old blade. Ouch!. And I was so proud of myself for getting this great deal ($1.35 per blade incl shipping)…they came from Denmark or Sweden I think based on the language on the package. Total rip-off and I am surprised AMAZON lets them trade on their account!

  9. THANKS! I just dodged the bullet. I was trying to buy 48 blades on ebay not 10 minutes ago, and PayPal would not let me send money until I verified my account. THANK GOODNESS! I was trigger happy and ready to buy 48 blades for $50, but could not send the money….Then I started researching blades in bulk on the internet, and came across this site. YOU GUYS JUST SAVED ME $50!!! THANKS!

  10. Yup, I fell for the same scam, a “Gillette” sales person with was outside a busy road in Leicester, UK selling these blades. I managed to get 4 four pack Mach3 blades for £10.00, which I thought was an absolute bargain, considering we pay almost £5.00 for one four pack. Only when I started using it I noticed the strip felt different and the blades were rougher! I’ve now binned them and accepted that if you want good shave you’ll have to pay the premium. Let me add I have nothing against fake blades as long as they can match the quality, it annoys me to have to pay an absolute fortune for the real thing!

  11. I fell for the same Mach 3 scam on eBay. I just opened a couple packages. The first I opened had some sort of goo stuck on the blades themselves. I opened the seconds package and noticed the ends that hold the blades in place were crooked.

  12. Big fat guy called Mick they are as blunt as my blades I have used for 3 weeks rubbish he’s a thief

  13. EBay vendors in the UK are awash with fake Gillette Fusion and Mach 3 blades. They all claim they are genuine – the buyers feedback is always positive !!. Why don’t Ebay purchasers give negative feedback to help stop this?? Also isn’t it about time Procter & Gamble / Gillette starts warning the public about the counterfeit problem ??.

  14. I bought two boxes of 4 Mach3 blades from a street stall on Henry Street in Dublin, Ireland. Exactly the same experience as above. I did suspect they may be fake, but when I inspected the packaging I was convinced. These traders are licensed by the City Council during the Christmas period. Tried the blades out recently and man do they hurt, leave plenty of stuble behind, take plenty of skin with them. At least I only lost €10 but still, I was duped.

    1. hello

      the only sure way is to buy them from places like Woolworth coles etc were you live then if they are fake which is very unlikely people like Woolworth and coles etc will refund the money and investigate how it happened

  15. i had the same issue buy gillette mach3 on ebay, i contacted gillette and they gave me a coupon for the Rolling Razor, got the Rolling Razor online and it gave me the best shave of my life!

  16. As a seller of GENUINE razor blade cartridges on eBay, I agree that fakes are a big problem. Moreover, they are very difficult to distinguish on purchase, but the difference on real Gillettes is obvious after use.

  17. I’ve stopped shaving as I can’t afford the price of AUTHENTIC blades in real stores.
    Only if the ebay deals were actually true.

  18. i got done on ebay as well with fake mach 3 blades. i even left positive feedback as they turned up quick, and i left the feedback before i’d even used them as i still had a couple of others left.
    it’s important to report sellers that sell counterfeit goods to ebay as they have to be seen to take action.
    as for the blades, if you leave them on the razor in the bathroom then the other half will always nick it to use on her legs in the shower, leaving you to keep your good blades for you!!!!!

  19. Fakes only exist where the real manufacturer lets them by pricing the real thing far too high. Gilette’s attitude in this case (expend tons of cash on lawyers etc to catch the perpetrators) is futile as new fake manufacturers will spring up as fast as you can arrest them.

    They will never win, or even make a dent.

    I am 100% positive that they have a ton of room on margin for these items; if they just stopped ripping us off then the fake industry would disappear overnight.

  20. Bought a large bulk (but still sealed) purchase off eBay that came to about $1.08 per blade (including shipping). Researched the return address (including the suite number) and it was a Nigerian consulate.

  21. I don’t understand this mania for overpriced multi blade razors, a good few of the men commenting here would be amazed at the quality of a DE (double edged) or Safety Razor shave. Google for Merkur or Dovo safety razors. Use the likes of Feather (Japan) brand blades in the razor. You can make the shaving occasion as sophisticated or as simple as *you* want. A person can use shaving gel, no need for a brush and lather.

    Avoid the problem totally, make a situation better for yourself, cut off the profit addiction for the manufacturers of ‘disposables’.

    Indulge yourself, don’t be a slave to your shave.

  22. @Safety

    Thanks for your comment, since doing some research I have decided to start shaving with a double edge, Goodfella cos it’s made locally, and it’s gonna be cheaper than running my current multi-blade jobbie 😀

  23. Did you get these blades from “youngzebra” on Amazon? I fell victim to the same scam. Did you get a refund?

  24. I too, bought 40 Mach 3 blades on E Bay and waited until I tried them before posting feedback. They are horrible. The seller says too send the remainder back for a refund. I want E Bay to shut this person down. They seem to be more concerned with making money from sellers than helping the victims of this fraud. Beware of E Bay stuff.

  25. I just bought an 8 pack, full price at a Duane Reade store in NYC. turns out they are fakes. my face is not happy with me this morning. Pretty disappointing when you find them in retail stores after paying almost $3 per blade. Hopefully I can get $ back from one of the parties involved.

  26. Why did people stop using these blades..

    They last for a good 5-10 shaves and do much better than Mach 3 to next gen Mach 100..

    No worries about counterfeiting.. I get those blades for 10 cents each and use they for a long time..
    You just have to shave a bit slowly.. but once u learn it is easy.. and gives a great shave..

    1. yep for you old guys with faces like boot leather shaving in the trenchers of ww2 and ww1 good luck when i used to roam the country with the army after shaving in the morning with this device the enemy could have spotted my blood spoor until it stopped about 8 hours later and yes i remember those other manly guys telling me to buck up my skin was like a babies but unfortunately those double sided razors were like using your bayonet to shave don’t get me wrong i used to envy those guys that just jumped up out of their hut chi dabbed a bit of dirty pothole water on their faces ice cold pothole water too and came up as smooth as the proverbial babies bum while i heated up the water in my cup shaved with the best razor money could buy and used a shaving cream any worth while enemy could smell 100 miles away and still after all this come out looking like i had had a fight with a rusty bladed lawn mower and still my face had 3/4 of the stubble on it my sergeant used to send me back to do it over and over again yes i remember those glorious days of the double edged Wilkinson sword blade and razor unfortunately and this is what people like Gillette knows there are more of us out there than you and believe me i always wished i could be like you and all those actors on TV using this device and no i envy you the ability to shave with these type of razors you the person who provides all the financial income of the BIC razor company

  27. hello

    could i leave one less than humorous reply to all this the fake blades that i bought are not in any way obvious the packaging is perfect the seals are perfect the glue writing on the packets are also perfect the colour of the blades are perfect the adhesion of the blades to the plastic cartridge is also perfect now all this costs a considerable amount of money all that is wrong is the blades are blunt almost as if someone took a real blade and then deliberately blunted them

    also the metal blades are attached to the plastic cartridge in such a way that it would take the real machine that does the ones for Gillette to have been used and so as conspiracy theories go and i have 80 of these absolutely perfect blades to testify to this why make them blunt when it would be just as easy to make them sharp?

    something does not fit here these blades like all stuff like this are made in some 3rd world country where the carbon credits are are a thing of legend such as Indonesia china Taiwan etc etc something just does not add up these blades are perfect in every way but sharpness as if the real thing was deliberately taken aside and scoured over a brick backwards in fact as if these blades were once real or they are used blades refurbished a new emollient strip added and then cleaned and in the cleaning process they became even more blunt

    but then this does not fit either the only solution is that for some reason Gillette themselves want to give the impression that the market is flooded with fake blades
    but id we go down the path of conspiracy and this is no joke it more than likely is not Gillette but of course a rival company whoise blades are not faked doin this to discredit Gillette

    of all the answers this is the one that fits the most a rival company has the technology to produce the real thing and then blunt them to discredit and furthermore reduce the share market gillette has over the other blade makers perhaps the biggest rival who coincidently has not reported fake blades

    ok you can take away the men with the white coats and the injections the only people with the reason and the on hand technology to produce a perfect but blunt fake is gillettes direct consumer rival it just makes more sense because these fakes are going to cost as much as the real thing



  28. I just tried 3 blades from my recent order of 120 Mach 3 Turbo blades that I purchased on Ebay. Duller than a spoon! They came unpackaged and there are no serial numbers on the plastic blade holders so I am assuming they too are fakes. I just contacted the seller asking that they rectify this problem so we’ll see what happens.

    Prior to the purchase I asked seller why they were not packaged. He replied he had gotten them at an estate sale and the packages were all dirty with paint and stuff so he removed the blades and sold them as is.

  29. Hi, Like most of you, I was also in the unfortunate position to buy fake Mach3 blades. I was so happy to save 20 Euros, by buying 4 packs of 8, from Ebay, but when the time came to use the first one, I had exactly the same experience as “The Chad”, where I felt my skin disappear with the stroke of the blade. I also thought that I left the foam on too long, so I applied more and tried again, but no luck. I then thought that maybe these blades require the new Jelly type cream and of course, I was wrong.
    The seller is obviously no-longer registered on Ebay and it was several weeks after the purchase that I tried the first blade, so I had nowhere to turn to.
    I feel for you Chad.

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