The Great Cleaning Caper

Every now and then I come across a news story which really tickles my fancy. This is one of them.

Two men in Sydney are possibly facing jail time over the alleged importation of 185 tonnes of fake washing powder from China.


Unilever Australia is the owner of the OMO washing powder trademark and discovered that retailers in the Sydney metro area were selling 9KG buckets of OMO marked ‘Made In Indonesia’ for 10-15 dollars less than the legitimate OMO made in Australia.

I’m not surprised some unscrupulous traders decided to carry the dodgy product which apparently is not even washing powder and certainly doesn’t follow the OMO mantra of more clean, less suds. Those nasty little two dollar shops are springing up on every corner. The OMO story reminds me of The Hallucinogenic Hallowe’en Lollipop Incident.

My friend Mel and I visited one of those cheapie shops in our local shopping centre last Hallowe’en to buy some Hallowe’en stickers to hand out to the trick or treaters. While there, even though we’d already bought our sweets from the supermarket, we couldn’t resist a jumbo bag of lollipops – 350 lollipops for $1.99 – who couldn’t? Bargains like that don’t come along every day.

As we were preparing our goodie bags I felt duty bound to try the lollipops. I tried a red one. Mel tried a green one. We only sucked them for a moment but they were disgusting, gritty and bitter. I immediately threw mine in the bin but Mel, as it is her wont to crunch instead of suck, had half swallowed hers. After about five minutes she began to see flashing lights and felt hot and cold. She alternated between saying ; “I’m gonna puke” and “Oooh, lights. Pretty.” She recovered shortly afterwards but our teeth were stained red and green respectively, taking three days to wear off, despite brushing at least 45 times.

The lollipops were made in Argentina and said something on the bag like –

preparado con este liquido limpiador-

which I later discovered had something to do with cleaning fluid. We called the cheapie shop and insisted they withdraw the lollipops from sale, thankful we had tried them before handing them out to all the kids in the neighbourhood. We certainly didn’t want to be responsible for the local kids spending the night seeing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds or developing a fondness for Jefferson Airplane or beanbags and lava lamps.

It just shows you that some people will do anything to make a buck. Lollipops that contain cleaning fluid? Fake washing powder that is so fake it doesn’t even clean your clothes? What I don’t get is that counterfeiting goods would take as much time and effort as manufacturing real ones. So why not just create a legitimate product?

I am intrigued as to how these two men thought they were going to shift 185 tonnes of the stuff. Were they planning to stand on street corners next to a van with blacked out windows, spruiking their wares : “Hey buddy, wanna get your whites whiter and your brights brighter?” Maybe they stopped outside psychiatrists offices, hoping to corner patients with an obsessive cleaning disorder, or maybe they offered the retailers a deal they couldn’t refuse – buy one tonne, get one free.

Fake Rolexes, Chanel sunglasses, Nike shoes, Prada bags, orange juice that may or may not contain oranges, vegetable soup that contains reconstituted vegetables, fake lollipops, fake washing powder. Is anything real anymore? Am I a reactionary for wanting the goods I purchase to actually be what they say they are?

My mother was right when she said a few weeks ago that “life was simpler when all we had to choose from was a box of Sunlight Soap.” Those were the days. Those washing powder bootleggers should be sentenced to ten years hard cleaning detail using their fake Omo that doesn’t clean. Seems only fair.


17 thoughts on “The Great Cleaning Caper

  1. Oh, I agree with your post…grocery stores today are overwhelming with all of their choices–cheap, expensive, and in between.

    Don’t even get me started about makeup. I can spend hours lost in a sea of mascara…:-D


  2. Ah, the cost of the effort is not factored into their equation. It’s purely the cost of the materials that matters to them.

    The lollipop thing both amused and scared me. I’m going to chuckle over the part: “We certainly didn’t want to be responsible for the local kids spending the night seeing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds or developing a fondness for Jefferson Airplane or beanbags and lava lamps.” But considering all the problems we’re having with contaminated goods flooding our markets, it’s a wonder we’ve managed to survive this long as a species.


  3. You won’t believe it – my Aunt, the bargain hunter extraordinaire bought a tub of that fake Omo! She said it leaves little white specks on your clothes like lint. They won’t come off. She doesn’t want to use it again and doesn’t know what to do with it. She has 9KGS of it. LOL. And those lollipops. Ugh! I’m still having nightmares!


  4. I am laughing at Kate’s comment. My boobs are real too but as Selma knows, I am getting them done in a few weeks. I can’t wait. I’m going to be perky and fabulous!


  5. When I was in Bali a few weeks ago I got a pair of Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses for three dollars. They actually really look like the real thing except that your eyes hurt after wearing them. Many people have commented on how good they look. It’s a fake, fake world out there!


  6. I fell victim to those lollipops too. My daughter was really ill from them. There was some kind of really horrible ingredient in there. I’m angry about it because obviously the biggest consumers of lollipops are going to be little kids. What is going on in this world?


  7. I remember my son buying a really cheap sweatshirt on the market. I told him … I don’t know much about fashion, but I do follow motor racing, and I know ‘Benetton’ is spelt with one N and two T’s.

    Sure enough, it fell apart after a couple of washes … maybe we should have used fake powder?

    I’m intrigued by all the email offering me ‘replica watches’, when I, and most people, have a REAL watch! Not a Rolex, I admit, but it tells the time just as well as one you could buy a small car for.


  8. KATE – hahahaha. But is your washing powder real?

    DOCSGIRL – I agree. There is so much to choose from these days you often don’t know where to start.

    PAISLEY – I know. Can you imagine how long it must take to produce something close to the original as well as printing up labels and so on? Why bother? It seems crazy.

    KAREN – contamination really is an issue now. It worries me quite a lot. Not to mention where the stuff all ends up once the perpetrators are caught. It just seems like a big waste of energy and resources.

    MEL – get her to take it back. I’m sure everyone else who bought it already has. And those lollipops – gross….

    JULES – yay for the new boobs! Wait a minute, I thought we were talking about washing powder. Hahahaa.

    STACEY – my Mum brought me back a fake pair of D&Gs when she was on holiday. I wore them once and they fell apart. They also really hurt the bridge of my nose.

    LEANNE – thanks for stopping by. I’m so sorry about your daughter. Hope she is OK. It’s getting ridiculous out there with all this crap flooding the marketplace.

    TRAVELRAT – you definitely should have used fake powder. LOL. I have a Timex expedition watch (yes, it is actually a man’s watch) that I’ve had for about 15 years. I couldn’t part with it.


  9. I once went away and forgot to put my watch on. On the way to the airport, I bought a cheap digital at a garage for £1.50 and remember remarking that’s exactly what I paid for my very first watch.

    After the trip, I gave it to my nephew … and now, 12 years later, it’s still going strong!


  10. Hang on, are you telling me that you want what it says on the box to be what it actually contains?!

    Next you’ll be telling me you expect the trains to run on time!


  11. TRAVELRAT – now that is my kind of watch!

    BEC – I’d also like tradesmen to turn up when they say they will. I know. I know. Living in la la land. That’s me. Hahaha.

    BONNIE – MMMMM, black cherry ice-cream.


  12. I’m a sucker for a bargain but after reading this I will definitely think twice about buying anything that seems to good to be true. Thanks for the warning Selma.


  13. GYPSY – I like a bargain too but I am very wary of lollipops and washing powder now. LOL.

    CRAFTY GREEN – even though it was Hallowe’en they were very scary!


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