In the run up to Christmas you should be alert to the dangers of buying cheap electrical goods online, in particular the risk of fire that purchasing fake electrical goods and chargers can put you at. If a deal looks like it’s too good to be true, then it probably is not only too good to be true but could actually be dangerous and life-threatening to you and your family.
According to safety campaigners Electrical Safety First the number of counterfeit and sub-standard electrical goods sold online has increased considerably in recent years with the most common fakes being the popular and sought-after items. The number of fake mobile phones seized has risen by more than 50% with other top electrical fakes including hair straighteners, e-cigarettes chargers and games.
Worryingly their research shows that:
- 24% of people have knowingly bought a counterfeit product;
- 21% would consider buying one in order to save money;
- 16% do not think counterfeit products could put them at risk.
However, these fake goods often contain faulty or wrongly configured or assembled parts that can cause products to overheat and catch fire. Using fake or counterfeit chargers can also void the warranty of electrical devices.
More people now shop online which increases the opportunities for rogue traders to sell you fake products. Our advice is to stick to reputable retailers both on the High Street and online and have a look at Electrical Safety First’s online Safe Shopper’s Guide for advice on shopping safely online. Download it here.
Top Tips to Avoid a Fake Christmas
- Check the reviews: Use reputable online review sites to see what people who have bought products say about them and the retailer and use website checkers set up by companies to confirm you are buying from an approved stockist.
- Check the seller: Look for the seller’s contact details and ensure there is a full address, not just a PO Box number because just having a .co.uk address doesn’t mean they are based in the UK. Is the seller a well-known name or have you bought from them before?
- Check the price: If a bargain looks too good to be true, it probably is. Check what others are selling it for and ask the trader why their price is so low.
- Check the purchase process: Look for websites that allow you to pay safely – these have a padlock symbol on your screen when you are filling in your payment details – but don’t assume safe payment definitely means your purchase is genuine. Also ensure there is a return or complaints procedure should you be unsatisfied.
- Check the product: When it arrives, firstly check for damage or loose wires, then check the voltage is 230V, 50Hz (the UK’s usual domestic voltage) and that they are fitted with a three-pin UK plug or charger. Also check the packaging note – does it come with instructions and a guarantee? If you have any suspicions about a product’s safety, or if you think it’s a fake, do not use it.
- Never charge any item overnight and particularly in bed or under a pillow as even with the proper charger this is more likely to result in a fire.
You find more information about spotting counterfeit products here.
Visit www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/ for more safety advice.