Name Brands vs. Knockoffs: What to never buy generic

HOUSTON – Consumer expert Amy Davis has compared name brands and their store brand knockoffs. From food to toilet paper, diapers and paper towels, the store brand or generic version fared well in tests, but there are cases when you should never buy the generic version.

Some things can be dangerous, while others will just waste your time and money because they won't last as long. 

Third-party chargers for tablets and cellphones are not a good idea to buy generic. Not only do these knockoffs usually not last as long, chargers not designed specifically for your device can be dangerous. 
Consumer Reports says some manufacturers apply counterfeit UL marks to make you think they're safe. Charging devices that don't meet UL standards can spark fires. Electrical engineers said you should stay away from dollar store electronics, power strips, surge protectors and chargers.  

Generic TVs are another no-no. In Consumer Reports' most recent TV buying guide, LG TVs had the highest ratings, followed by Sony and Samsung. Big-name companies usually offer better warranties than lesser-known generic manufacturers. 

Put an asterisk next to batteries. Store brand batteries used to be bad, but the tide seems to be changing. Consumer Reports recently gave excellent ratings to CVS Max's AA batteries and a very good score to Costco's Kirkland Signature AA batteries.

The other name brand item Davis heard can never be duplicated is queso made with Velveeta. Some swear the liquid gold just doesn't taste the same made with any other brand of cheese. To test that claim, Davis made two crockpots of queso, one made with Velveeta cheese, the other with WalMart's Original Melt 'n Dip Easy Melt Cheese. She served up both in the Channel 2 break room and asked employees to cast their votes for their favorite. 

"It's a bit more thicker, more flavor," said one staffer, unknowingly referring to the real Velveeta.   

Another employee commented, "Has kind of a strange taste to it. It doesn't taste quite right." 

Out of 18 testers, eight preferred the queso made with Walmart's Melt n Dip that cost $3.63, while 10 preferred Velveeta that we paid $4.48 for.

About the Author:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.