One in three Brits may have bought a counterfeit electrical product, many through trusted online retailers, which could give them an electric shock or start a fire, according to Electrical Safety First.
The electrical safety charity surveyed 2,000 people and found that 30% have bought electrical products online the turned out to be counterfeit.
It also found that 92% of people think online retailers have complete control over third-party sellers, regulating what goods they offer. This isn’t the case, leaving counterfeit products, such as tumble dryers, kettles, hair straighteners and travel adaptors, on sale.
How to spot counterfeit goods
To help you steer clear of fake products, make sure you:
- Inspect the packaging – it is low-quality or does it not have a logo? Anything that’s supposed to be expensive will not be sent to you wrapped in plastic.
- Check whether there are any distinguishing holographs or features it should have.
- Look at the plug of the item – is it damaged or different in any way?
- Consider buying from the brand’s official website or authorised seller to avoid a fake.
Most of all, the old adage still holds true – if a bargain looks too good to be true, it usually is. You can read more in our guide to fake or counterfeit goods.
Electrical Safety First also found goods online that have been recalled and so should no longer be on sale. Trading Standards has a list of recalled products, so check whether the appliance is on there before you buy.
We would always recommend using a credit or debit card when buying online, to help protect you. It means you can make a claim against your card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if the item you bought cost more than £100 and less than £30,000.
If you bought something costing less than £100, or used your debit card, you can ask your card provider to reverse a transaction using chargeback.
Reporting counterfeit goods to Trading Standards, Action Fraud and iBrand, as well as to the online retailer you bought it from, will help to tackle the problem. Our guide to reporting counterfeit goods talks you through what you need to do.
How Which? is tackling unsafe products
Which? campaigns to make sure that unsafe products are removed from sale. Our research has revealed that 6,206 household fires were deemed by fire services to have been caused by faulty appliances and leads between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016.
Fires caused by faulty washing machines and tumble dryers account for more than a third (35%) of this overall number, meaning these two appliances cause more than 20 fires per week on average. Check to see if your appliance brands have been linked to fires.
Our product tests have also identified potentially fatal faults in non-counterfeit goods, including tumble driers that catch fire, carbon monoxide alarms that don’t detect deadly gases and fridge-freezers with plastic backing that are flammable.
We’re calling on manufacturers and retailers to immediately remove unsafe products from the market and people’s’ homes. We’re concerned that without stronger national action to keep dangerous products out of our homes, the situation will get worse when the UK leaves the EU. Add your voice to our product safety campaign.