By Pavel Alpeyev July 15th, 2011 – www.Bloomberg.com
In Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district, a Geiger counter sold under the Shanghai Ergonomics Detecting Instrument Co.’s DP802i brand name costs 65,000 yen ($800). For that price, twice the cost in China, it comes without a box, warranty or return policy.
Shanghai Ergonomics doesn’t know how its device got onto the shelves at Akihabara as the company doesn’t sell its Geiger counters directly overseas and offers a one-year warranty for models sold in China, Chairman Li Jinglei said in a telephone interview.
Geiger counters, also known as dosimeters, have sold out and prices quadrupled in Tokyo because of worries about radiation fallout since the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown in March. The demand spurred a grey market of “illegal” products that use faulty parts and shoddy designs or are fake, Li said. He declined to say how much it costs Shanghai Ergonomics to make the dosimeters.
Some of the devices on the Chinese market tested by the Shanghai-based company weren’t hermetically sealed or stopped functioning within two or three days, Li said. He estimated a failure rate of about 70 percent for those models.
“It’s by no means a high-tech product,” said Huang Yinghong, a sales manager at Shenzhen Xintaiheng Sci-tech Co., a Shenzhen-based seller of the devices. It takes about 20,000 yuan ($3,000), 10 workers and commonly available circuit boards and chips to enter the Geiger counter business, according to Huang.