Amazon and eBay have been accused of failing to stop the sale of unsafe electricals after a safety charity found ‘potentially deadly’ items advertised.
Electrical Safety First found that of 15 products it bought and tested from the two sites, as well as the online marketplace Wish, 14 failed tests against UK standards.
The failures uncovered in products such as hair straighteners, phone chargers, travel adaptors and laser hair removers, ranged from a lack of safety markings to severe flaws posing risk of electric shocks and fire. All three sites have removed the flagged products from sale.
During its investigation, Electrical Safety First also captured footage of a single-port charger exploding after buying it from Wish, having already identified that it was at risk of internal rupturing leading to a possible explosion.
Its researchers also found a laser hair remover bought from eBay was posed a significant risk of electric shock to the user because of access to live parts, while counterfeit GHD hair straighteners bought from Wish were found to pose a potential electric shock risk.
A hair dryer bought from Wish ignited in a test restricting the product’s air flow, while a modelling hair comb purchased via Amazon Marketplace also posed a fire risk due to a non-compliant plug which is illegal for sale in the UK.
Electrical Safety First said online marketplaces were “swiftly becoming the wild west of the web”, noting that a Product Safety Pledge many marketplaces have already signed up to held no legal weight.
The charity’s technical director, Martyn Allen, said: “Some of the products we discovered during our investigation could be potentially deadly to the consumer with some posing a serious risk of electric shock or fire.
“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. “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. Buyers need to beware.”
The charity said it believed its findings were only a “snapshot of a much wider problem”.
Last week, the consumer watchdog Which? said Amazon and eBay were failing to take “basic steps” to stop the listing of toys that appeared to have been declared unsafe by the EU safety alert system.
The consumer group’s findings led it to call on the next government to make online marketplaces legally responsible for stopping dangerous products from being sold.
Following Electrical Safety First’s report, an Amazon spokesman said: “Safety is a top priority at Amazon. 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. The products have been removed.”
Wish told the Telegraph it had removed all the products flagged to it by the charity.
An eBay spokeswoman said: “The importance of our customers’ safety is paramount. We proactively enforce our Product Safety Policy using block filter algorithms to prevent unsafe products from being listed. In addition, our security team continuously patrols our marketplaces and will remove items and take appropriate action against sellers who breach our policies.”
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