Fake, illegal and dangerous goods are being sold on the website Wish.com, a Which? investigation has revealed.
We bought six popular products from Wish.com with prices that looked too good to be true.
These included a child car seat, two sets of headphones, a smartphone, a smartwatch and a wireless speaker.
The wireless speaker arrived three months later than the estimated delivery date (too late to be included in our investigation) while the smartwatch didn’t turn up at all. The other four products were either fake, illegal or dangerous.
Find out more about our campaign to End Dangerous Products.
Video: dangerous products found on Wish.com
Find out why the child car seat we found on Wish.com is illegal to sell in the UK.
How we investigated Wish.com
We bought six products we suspected were counterfeit, dangerous or illegal in March 2020, only four of which arrived in time to be included in our investigation.
Our product experts examined the items to give their assessment on whether they were legitimate.
Dangerous child car seat
Product name: Good And Portable Soft Safety Kids Car Seat For Child Baby Carrier Seat
Price: £17 (reduced from £71)
After unwrapping it, it took our expert just seconds to know this fabric seat was both illegal and dangerous – and using it could put a child’s life at risk.
It had two buckles either side of the seat, meaning it didn’t comply with UK car seat regulations. These child car seat laws state that buckle restraints should be released in one single operation.
The law on child car seats states that only EU-approved seats can be used or sold in the UK. These have a clear orange approval label indicating they can be sold in the UK market. The one we bought from Wish.com didn’t have any type of label at all.
The seat also has no side impact protection and the base of the seat lacks height, meaning the harness won’t fit correctly to protect a child properly in a front-on collision.
We have previously found similar car seats available to buy from eBay, Amazon Marketplace and AliExpress. Surrey Trading Standards first warned about these types of car seats in 2014, dubbing them ‘killer car seats’ and pushed for them to be removed from sale.
When car seat manufacturer Britax used one to show the effect of an impact when travelling at 30mph, the test dummy, which represented a three-year-old child, was flung through the windscreen when the straps securing the seat came loose. If this had been a real child, it could have resulted in life-threatening injuries.
Which? car seat expert Hannah Fox’s verdict: ‘This car seat is clearly illegal to use in the UK and could put a child’s life in danger.’
Find out more about Best Buy baby and child car seats.
Fake ‘Huawei’ smartphone
Product name: 2020 P30 Pro Android 9.1 Smartphone 6.3 Inch Water Drop Screen MTK6797 10 Core 8G+256G Dual SIM Card Dual Standby GPS GSM 4G5G Smartphone.
Price: £64.22 (reduced from £2,081)
Typical price for Huawei P30 Pro: £492
The Huawei P30 Pro is one of the brand’s flagship smartphones and currently sells for around £500. So at around 10% of the price you might pay, this really stood out.
But as soon as our expert looked at it, alarm bells rang.
There was no branding on the outer casing or the back of the phone. A sticker said it would take more than 10 minutes to reboot if it ran out of battery and advised recharging when it reached 20% capacity – something we’ve never seen on a mobile phone before.
The ‘Welcome’ screen was not Huawei’s. Our expert found the screen had a noticeable lag and there was a strange layout and even punctuation errors in the settings menu.
The accessories made it clear the phone was fake – it came with an Apple-branded charging adaptor rather than a Huawei one. However, that may also not have been genuine – our expert felt it was less sturdy than a genuine Apple charging adaptor and the writing was blurry and hard to read.
Smartphone expert Louise Muyanja’s verdict: ‘Immediately it was very clear that this is a fake. The whole look and feel was wrong, and it smelt horrible – it reeked of industrial glue.’
Find out more about Best Buy smartphones.
Fake ‘Bose’ headphones
Product name: Refurbished QuietComfort 35 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones Bass Headset Noise Cancelling Sport Earphone Audifonos Bluetooth QC35
Price: £20 (reduced from £470)
Typical price for Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones: £259
At an eye-opening £450 off, this pair of headphones claimed to be a refurbished Bose pair. But we believe they are actually fake.
The front and sides of the box looked similar to the official Bose box. The box actually claimed they were a better model than the Wish listing said – the Bose QuietComfort 35 II (second-generation model), rather than the older generation Bose QuietComfort 35. But the back of the box had an amateur-looking design and poor English translation.
At first glance, the headphones looked similar to the official Bose QuietComfort 35 II design. But our expert said they felt light and didn’t have active noise cancelling. They claimed only five hours’ playback – compared to up to 20 hours for the official pair. And in reality we only managed to get two and a half hours’ worth. Surprisingly, they had some functions that wouldn’t be on the official Bose headphones – namely a micro SD card slot and FM radio.
The moulding construction was clearly viewable when the headband was extended – when hinges bend you can see plastic below and the wire connecting the two earcups through the headband was fully exposed in several places. Plus our expert found them very uncomfortable to wear.
A Bose spokesperson said: ‘We are aware that fake Bose products have been showing up on Wish.com. We have been working with Wish.com very closely to remove listings for counterfeit products, and with customs agencies around the world to seize shipments of counterfeit Bose products sold on Wish.com. There are no authorised sales of Bose products on Wish.com.’
Which? headphones expert Oliver Trebilcock’s verdict: ‘There’s zero chance this is Bose quality – there’s none of the sense of premium you’d expect from a Bose pair of headphones here’.
Find out more about Best Buy headphones.
Fake ‘Apple AirPod’ headphones
Product name: New Wireless Bluetooth Earphone Earbuds for Apple AirPods Original In-ear Earphone Deeper Bass with Touch Function for IOS Android Smartphones
Price: £8.55 (reduced from £155)
Typical price for Apple AirPods: £124
The Wish listing suggests these are Apple AirPods. They’re not.
They looked similar to Apple AirPods but the box states they’re actually the unbranded i12 TWS headphones, and look similar to the i9S TWS headphones Which? has tested – and that got the lowest score out of any of the 200+ pairs of headphones currently available that we’ve reviewed.
There was no mention of Apple AirPods on the product, but our expert said even if you had these ‘AirPods’ right next to the official ones, it would be quite hard to tell the difference. The joins between the moulding weren’t quite as flush and clean, and the charging status light on the case was in a different place. The charging connections were temperamental, and while the earbuds claim two to three hours of listening time, our expert only managed to get one hour and five minutes out of the left earbud. The right one didn’t charge properly at all.
When we connected the headphones to an iPhone, they came up as ‘Apple AirPods’ on the screen – a sneaky extra touch.
An Apple spokesperson said: ‘The safety and wellbeing of our customers is our top priority, and the risks associated with counterfeit and fake products can be a very serious. Last year alone, we sought removal of close to a million listings for counterfeit and knock-off products from online marketplaces, including tens of thousands in the UK, and our teams are continually adapting to counterfeiters’ latest tactics in order to protect our customers.’
Which? headphones expert Oliver Trebilcock’s verdict: ‘Unfortunately, I’ve only managed to successfully charge the left earbud. The right one only plays music for about a minute and then is dead. It sounds pretty tinny and lacking in body.’
Find out more about Best Buy headphones.
What happened to the other products?
Outdoor waterproof speaker:
Product name: Portable IPX7 Waterproof Outdoor HIFI Column Bluetooth Speaker Stereo Subwoofer Bass Speaker Support TF Card Mp3 Player Mobile Phone Power Bank
Price: £17 (reduced from £232)
This arrived three months later than the estimated delivery date. Before it showed up, we reported it missing online and were offered a refund in ‘Wish Cash’ which works like a credit note.
Product name: NEW As Apple’s 5th Generation Smart Watch Work Support Heart Rate Detection Blood Pressure Test Sleep Monitoring Bluetooth Call Waterproof Sports Smarrwatch Exquisite Tracker Smart Bracelet Wristband For Android Android phone
Price: £25 (reduced from £470)
Our Wish account said this had shipped but it didn’t arrive. We reported it online and declined a refund offered in ‘Wish Cash’ (a credit note on our account) in the hope it would give us an option for a full cash refund. It didn’t.
What did Wish.com say?
A Wish spokesperson said: ‘Wish is an online marketplace that connects millions of users to a wide range of merchants all over the world. All of the merchants on our platform are required to adhere to local laws wherever their goods are sold. Our merchant terms of service clearly set out our expectations with regards to product safety, pricing and infringement of intellectual property rights (for which we have a zero-tolerance policy).
‘Where customers are not satisfied with their purchase, Wish has a comprehensive refund and returns policy that is designed to be fair to the consumers and merchants using our platform. The policy, which is publicly available on our website and fully compliant with local laws, covers a number of eventualities, including incorrect and missing orders, and queries surrounding our payment methods. It is supplementary to any rights a consumer has with a merchant directly.
‘We’d like to thank Which? for bringing these products to our attention. We are in the process of removing these items and the merchants in question have been reminded of the importance of complying with local laws.’
How can you avoid a fake and what are your rights?
Fake goods are sold at low and often very tempting prices. But they can be dangerous to use – putting property and lives at risk – and they can fund large-scale organised crime.
Here’s some tips to help you avoid getting stung by a fake:
- Be wary of deals that appear too good to be true – they usually are.
- Don’t buy something you know is a tiny fraction of the recommended retail price, no matter how tempting it may seem.
- Check the packaging – be wary of anything with low-quality packaging or no logo.
- Research the item you’re intending to buy – does it have any distinguishing labels, marks or features?
- Buy from reputable retailers
- Item description is an area fraudsters often neglect. Always check the product description
For more information see our guide on How to Spot Fake or Counterfeit Products.