Taming The Web's Wild West: MPs Debate Online Sales

08 July 2019

Responding to this morning’s Westminster Hall debate on the sale of online goods, Phil Buckle, Chief Executive, of leading Charity, Electrical Safety First, commented:

“We fully support the views of Carolyn Harris MP, who called the debate – the Government must act in the public interest if online marketplaces fail to protect their customers from unsafe products and practices.

“Online sales are flooding the UK, with low cost, low quality and often unsafe electrical goods. Electrical items present a specific risk, as around half of all domestic fires in UK homes arise from electricity – and most are caused by electrical products.

“Our own investigations have shown how easy it is to buy dangerous goods online, including electrical products recalled by the manufacturer or retailer. One in three of us – that’s 18 million people - have mistakenly bought a counterfeit online. And one in seven have suffered damage or loss from the product. But the problem is compounded by the fact that many consumers think they are buying from a reputable online platform, when they are really buying from a private seller.

“It’s evident that e-commerce websites must improve their regulation of third party sellers and take swift action to remove dangerous, counterfeit and non-compliant products from sale. But we would also like to see legal requirements for online platforms to ensure items comply with UK safety regulations. And we believe that the legislation around private sales needs to be reviewed.

Electrical Safety First understands the difficulties in enforcing consumer protection online and recognise the benefits online shopping can offer to consumers. But unlike a fake designer handbag, faulty and counterfeit electrical goods can cause fires, kill and maim. So we are calling on the Government and the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to review the current situation and support the campaign for improved regulation of electrical goods.”