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Toronto woman says Shoppers Drug Mart sold her fake Apple AirPods and she's not alone

A woman from Toronto has alleged that a pair of Apple AirPods Pro she bought from Shoppers Drug Mart turned out to be fake, and the Loblaw Companies Ltd. retailer has admitted in response that "fraud is a problem" impacting the entire sector.

On January 8, a woman we'll refer to as "Joy" to protect her identity posted about her experience in a Facebook group called PC Optimum Points/Deals.

"I purchased AirPods Pro 2 for my husband. He immediately noticed the sound quality wasn't as expected and the ear tip didn't stay on the earbuds," she said. "We checked the serial number and it was unrecognized on the Apple site."

The purchase was made using PC Optimum Points at the Shoppers Drug Mart on Rathburn and East Mall in Etobicoke, Ontario. The AirPods originally cost about $400.

The couple then visited an Apple store and were able to verify that their purchase was not a genuine Apple product.

"When we were at Apple, someone else walked in with the same issue and the serial number was the same as mine," Joy said.

She decided to return the earphones to Shoppers Drug Mart. Store management apologized to Joy and replaced the fake AirPods with genuine Apple ones.

Joy further alleged that while she was making the return and reporting what had happened, a manager at the Shoppers Drug Mart location said the same thing had happened to one of their employees about a month ago.

Upon checking the Apple AirPods shelf at the store, staffers were able to find two more pairs of Apple AirPods with serial numbers that failed to register with Apple.

"Go check the serial number on your box now!" she warned in her Facebook post. Many in the comments speculated that fake AirPods may have landed on Shoppers Drug Mart shelves through a false return made by a customer who kept the genuine product.

Someone with the username thelingo posted a similar story on Reddit a month ago.

Their experience adds weight to the theory that people are fraudulently returning fake AirPods to Shoppers locations after buying the genuine product from the store.

"If you've purchased AirPods Pro (2nd generation) within the last few weeks at Shoppers in the Waterloo area, check the serial number," thelingo said. "If it's H5XHDQ7LK6, they are counterfeit."

This purchase, too, was made using PC Optimum points.

The poster said Shoppers had processed his return, and that store management was able to find video footage of a person who had bought genuine AirPods and returned a fake pair — the exact one that thelingo ended up buying.

Daily Hive reached out to Joy for further details, and to Loblaw to inquire about these incidents.

"First and foremost, if a customer suspects that they have purchased a product that has been tampered with, they can contact our Customer Service team for support," a Loblaw spokesperson told us.

"Unfortunately, fraud is a problem impacting the retail sector in general. Our store teams are trained and do their best to recognize tampering and other forms of fraud, however, it can be difficult to identify when a product is returned sealed and with a receipt."

If you buy an Apple product from a third-party store, cross-check the serial number on Apple's website to ensure they are genuine and save yourself the trouble.

Loblaw did not confirm that it was aware of this happening with their AirPods often. The retailer also did not explain why there were multiple fake Apple AirPods on the shelves.

"Shoppers would have no way to find out if the item is fake because the receipt does not have a serial number written on it," Joy told Daily Hive.

"When you purchase directly from Apple, there is a specific serial number written directly on the receipt which they check when you are returning back to the Apple store."

"We advised the manager to write down the serial number with every purchase from now on. Not sure if it's being followed through."

Lead photo by

Lauren O'Neil

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