AMAZON, eBay and Wish are putting shoppers at risk by allowing third party sellers to flog “potentially deadly” fake electronics that can cause electric shocks and fires through their sites.
Consumer charity Electrical Safety First tested products bought on the sites ahead of Black Friday including hair straighteners, phone charges, travel adaptors and laser hair removers, to see whether they complied with UK safety standards.
Out of the 15 tested, 14 of them failed for a number of different reasons ranging from minor to severe.
Some of the products were found to cause electric shocks to the person who’s using it or even start a fire.
The most alarming failure came from products bought through online marketplace Wish, which is known for its low prices.
A fake Apple charger wasn’t fitted with any protective devices leaving it at risk of exploding when being used.
One hairdryer from Wish caught fire during testing, while a pair of fake GHD hair straighteners, also from Wish, and a laser hair remover from eBay were also both found to cause electric shocks.
An electric hair comb bought through Amazon Marketplace also was found have an illegal plug that didn’t meet safety standards, which could short circuit and cause a fire.
Electrical Safety First said online marketplaces were “swiftly becoming the wild west of the web”, noting that the current Product Safety Pledge many marketplaces have already signed up to held no legal weight.
A survey carried out by the charity found that worryingly, a third of Brits would buy fake goods online if it meant they could save 30 per cent compared to buying the real deal.
One in 10 adults have first-hand experience of a shock or fire caused by an electrical item bought online, the poll found.
It’s the second time in three years that the charity has carried out the tests, showing that marketplaces still aren’t doing enough to tackle the issue.
Now, it’s calling on the government to make online marketplaces legally responsible for stopping dangerous products from being sold.
The charity’s technical director, Martyn Allen, said: “No product that fails our tests should be being sold, and it’s very clear that the lack of regulation of online marketplaces – from government or from the sites themselves – is allowing those who sell dangerous goods to make a profit at the expense of consumer safety.”
He added: “If you’re buying an electrical item, stick to a reputable retailer whom you trust and if you spot any safety concerns, stop using it and contact the manufacturer.”
How to spot a fake
SHOPPERS should follow Electrical Safety First guidelines before parting with their cash online in order to spot a fake:
- Do check the price – If it’s a bargain and the price is too good be true, then it probably is.
- Don’t trust images – Seeing is not believing. Do not trust that the image displayed on the advert is a true representation of the product you will receive.
- Do look for contact details – If the seller’s contact details are not supplied, or there is a just a PO Box, be wary; many fake electrical goods are manufactured overseas, where they will not be safety tested and are produced as quickly and cheaply as possible.
- Don’t rely on reviews – Previous happy customers may not be aware they have purchased a substandard or counterfeit item. Reviews will be based on the product working at one point in time, rather than the potential safety risks it poses.
- Do buy from a reputable retailer – by buying your electrical products from reputable retailers, or directly from the manufacturer, you can be assured you’re buying the real thing.
Caroline Normand, director of advocacy at Which?, which has recently highlighted how the retailers are failing to stop toys that don’t meet regulation being sold on their sites, described the results as “alarming”.
Both Amazon and eBay say that safety is a “top priority” for the retailers.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “We require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from being listed in our stores.”
An eBay spokeswoman said that it uses “block filter algorithms” to stop unsafe items being listed.
They added: “In addition, our security team continuously patrols our marketplaces and will remove items and take appropriate action against sellers who breach our policies.”
The Sun has contacted Wish for comment.