Electrical Safety First is the charity dedicated to reducing electrical accidents in the home. Here, its Deputy Public Affairs Manager Wayne Mackay writes about this year’s Electrical Fire Safety Week.
With the ease of internet shopping, people are moving away from High Street retailers towards buying online with “marketplaces” proving particularly popular, offering smoking hot deals and bargains. But with the amount of counterfeit and sub-standard electrical products that are on sale via these largely unregulated sites, the deal is not always the kind of “smoking hot” that shoppers had in mind, with products presenting a serious risk of electrical fire or shock.
In June 2018, Electrical Safety First investigated the worrying number of fake electrical products that were available for sale via popular online marketplaces and launched a media campaign to highlight the scale of the problem with advice for consumers looking for a bargain.
Since then there has been positive action taken. A number of marketplace owners signed a memorandum of understanding in the EU which committed them to removing dangerous products listed on their sites and Amazon launched “Project Zero”, an initiative which gives brands the ability to remove fake listings from the site without Amazon’s approval or scrutiny.
This year, as shoppers prepare to hunt for bargains online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, our campaign for Electrical Fire Safety Week looks at the number of potentially dangerous products that are still on sale on marketplaces. Our expert technical team has purchased products from leading e-commerce sites and put them through rigorous testing. Any failures will be shared with the site owners. A commitment towards the swift removal of dangerous products is a good start but these platforms need to be better regulated in order to stop dangerous products coming to the market in the first place.
To support the campaign, we have carried out consumer research to find out how safe shoppers believe these marketplaces to be:
We found that in Scotland:
• 90% of people surveyed felt that products they bought from Amazon Marketplace would be safe and three quarters trusted products purchased from eBay.
• When shopping online, a third of people don’t know what signs to look out for to judge if an electrical product is safe
• One in five said that they or somebody they know have experienced an electric shock or fire caused by a product bought from an online marketplace.
• 15% have bought at least one electrical product from a marketplace only to find out it’s a fake.
Check It Out
The Charity is currently developing a plug-in for Google Chrome that will help shoppers avoid buying potentially dangerous products. The “Check it Out” logo will pop up as people browse electrical products on the marketplace, highlighting unregulated, third-party sellers.
Electrical Safety First would like to remind shoppers looking for a bargain online:
• Only buy from retailers you know and trust
• Download the “Check it Out” plug-in to help you spot unregulated, third-party sellers
• Don’t rely on the images and reviews you see online – these can be faked
• If a bargain looks “too good to be true”, it probably is!
Find out more at www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk