CBP tweeted last night that its officers had “recently seized 2,000 counterfeit Apple AirPods from Hong Kong, valued at $398K had they been genuine.”
Hey, give those back! 🙃
— OnePlus USA (@OnePlus_USA) September 14, 2020
The tweet also linked out to an official press release that praises CBP officers for “protecting the American public from various dangers on a daily basis,” adding “the interceptions of these counterfeit earbuds is a direct reflection of the vigilance and commitment to mission success by our CBP officers daily.”
Based on the accompanying photos, however, the seized products are actually legitimate OnePlus Buds, as clearly described on the earphones’ boxing. Whether the 2,000 seized units were all OnePlus Buds isn’t immediately clear, but given that the CBP tweeted “That’s not an [Apple emoji]” in direct reference to the OnePlus boxes suggests this is all an embarrassing mistake.
In addition, and as noted by The Verge, the CBP’s valuation suggests they have been mistaken for AirPods, because at $79 each, 2,000 OnePlus Buds would be worth $158,000, not $398,000. According to the CBP press release, which makes no mention of the OnePlus branding, the units originated from Hong Kong and were headed to Nevada, but were seized at JFK on August 31.
To be fair, the OnePlus Buds bear a strong resemblance to Apple’s stick-like earphones, and there’s no doubt that the market is awash with AirPods knockoffs. But OnePlus is a well-known brand, and there’s no shortage of other legitimate brands that “pay homage” to the form factor and iconic aesthetic of Apple’s AirPods with their own true wireless earphone offerings.
Whether the seizure was indeed the result of a cock-up or just poor communication on CBP’s part, OnePlus has clearly seen the funny side: Its official USA Twitter account replied to the CBP tweet with “Hey, Give those back!” accompanied by an upside down smiley emoji.