Nine in ten budget electrical products bought online may not be safe

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Research into 2,000 adults also found one in ten have been shocked, or seen sparks that could start a house fire, from an electrical item they have bought online.

And almost three-quarters (73 percent) are unaware that online marketplaces are not required to ensure the safety of electrical products they list for sale.

Most recent figures reported by ESF in 2019, following testing of 15 random electrical items sourced online, found 93 percent didn’t meet essential UK-based safety criteria, and could not be awarded the appropriate certification.

Lesley Rudd, chief executive, said: “This Christmas could see a perfect storm hit Britain’s hard-up festive shoppers, as our attempts to save money could leave us vulnerable to dangerous goods.

“Sales of electrical products through online marketplaces has grown significantly since 2019.

“All of these enter the UK market untested, from suppliers who are not checked by the marketplace operators.

“The best gift the Government could give consumers this holiday season is ensuring the safety of online marketplaces, so that their Christmas doesn’t go up in smoke.”

The research also found one in three Brits never check the safety credentials of electrical products before buying, according to research.

The main reasons for failing to look for certification labels, or testing to standards, are due to trust in the seller, and having no concerns about the product.

But two in five (39 percent) admit they would have no idea what they were looking for.

In fact, safety is only an important factor for half of respondents when buying electrical goods – behind energy efficiency (51 percent) and price (75 percent).

However, since learning that some sellers on online marketplaces aren’t bound to traditional safety laws, more than one in four (27 percent) will be more careful to look into safety credentials before making a purchase.

And 14 percent will go as far as avoiding buying any electrical goods from online retailers, and dodge the risk entirely.

Lesley Rudd added: “Most UK shoppers don’t realise these sites are under no obligation to ensure the safety of products or claims of their suppliers.

“We know poor quality or fake electrical products are increasingly being offered for sale on these sites.

“While they might look like premium brands, they often contain cheap or faulty components that can overheat and catch fire, or deliver an electric shock.

“It may be tempting to save a bit of money, but I’d ask people to consider how they’d feel if someone was electrocuted by a gift they gave them.

“We urge people to prioritise safety – don’t let the recipients of your gifts pay the ultimate price.”

The top three key safety marks to look out for when purchasing electrical products this Christmas are the UK Conformity Assessed mark (UKCA); the CE marking (in Northern Ireland only); or the BSI Kitemark.

For advice on avoiding dangerous electrical products, go to the “Don’t be Electricked” site.

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