The Dangers Of Online Marketplaces

28 October 2019

Posted on by Samantha Mager

Online marketplaces can be a nightmare to navigate with dozens of sellers trying to offer you the same product at the most competitive price. Not only is it a headache to trifle through the different listings, it is also becoming increasingly difficult to work out what is fake and what is genuine! For Electrical Fire Safety Week this year, we are focusing on dangerous electrical products that are sold via online marketplaces. This includes sub-standard and counterfeit items, but also recalled goods too.

Purchasing a fake product online is probably more common than you may expect with almost 1/3 of people in the UK falling victim to counterfeit scams - that’s the equivalent of 18 million people! The danger of buying a fake electrical product goes deeper than just a less than functional item – you are also putting your safety at risk. We tested fake Apple chargers, and found that 98% could cause a fire or a lethal electric shock. As you can see, the pennies you save by buying cheap is definitely not worth the risks you are putting you and your home at. Fake electrical goods aren’t built to the same standards as their genuine counterparts, with many often lacking essential safety components inside!

Here are some important things to note when navigating an online marketplace:

  • When buying online, only buy from a retailer that you trust, either direct from the manufacturer’s website or a trusted High Street name – that way if something goes wrong, you can return the product for repair or a refund.
  • If you decide to buy on an online marketplace, look for the seller’s contact details. If there is no address supplied, or there is just a PO Box, be wary; many fake electrical goods are manufactured overseas, where they will not be safety tested and are produced as quickly and cheaply as possible.
  • Fake and substandard items can be almost impossible to spot. Online shoppers are being misled by imagery taken from official product sites, fake official safety marks and believable pricing – items can even be priced just a few pounds below recommended retail value to avoid arousing suspicion. Here are more tips on how to spot a fake online: https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guidance/safe-shopping-and-counterfeit-products/
  • If you believe that a product you’ve purchased has been recalled, use our recall checker to find out what to do next and how to return the faulty good: https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/product-recalls/
  • If a bargain seems too good to be true, it probably is!

In addition to this, it is clear to us that the owners of online marketplaces must do more to protect their customers from dangerous electrical fakes and if a lack of self-regulation is evident the Government should consider legislating on the issue.

Share your opinions and stories on social media with the hashtag #EFSW!

Electrical Fire Safety Week runs from Nov 18th-24th 2019.

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