Charity launches online tool to help consumer avoid dangerous electrical goods
Electrical Safety First’s ‘Check it Out’ extension for Chrome alerts users of online marketplaces when they are viewing a product being sold by a third party seller.
A new extension for Google Chrome launched this week aims to keep online shoppers safe by alerting them when they are purchasing a product from a third party seller.
Consumer protection Charity Electrical Safety First are behind Check It Out, a BETA tool being launched ahead of the Christmas period after the organisation’s recent investigation found dangerous goods being sold by third party sellers via marketplaces such as Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Wish. Of the 15 products which were purchased based on the expert knowledge of the Charity’s technical team, 14 failed tests against the UK standard.
Previous research by the Charity shows how confusing it can be for consumers to identify a marketplace online. 44% of consumers surveyed said they didn’t feel confident knowing the difference between the likes of Amazon and Amazon Marketplace - the latter being the platform on which they will be more likely to be purchasing from a third party seller.
Electrical Safety First hopes its online tool will make this distinction easier for consumers to make. Once the tool has been installed, an icon appears on-screen when a listing is viewed on eBay or Amazon Marketplace that isn’t being sold by a reputable retailer.
Investigations by the Charity have found it worryingly easy to set up as a third-party seller on these websites, providing fertile ground for those selling substandard or counterfeit goods at the expense of consumer safety.
Martyn Allen, Technical Director of Electrical Safety First, commented: “The world of online shopping can be a minefield, and we recognise that it isn’t always clear who consumers are buying from when using online marketplaces. Our new tool, Check It Out, hopes to provide better clarity as to the type of seller you’re dealing with. While we continue to call on the next Government to regulate online sales via marketplaces, we hope our tool goes some way in allowing online shoppers to feel more confident in making informed purchases and reducing the risk of buying a dangerous electrical product.”
Consumers using Google Chrome to browse the web can install the app for free at the click of a button. Simply go to the Chrome Store and type in Electrical Safety First where you will see the ‘Check It Out’ tool. The tool, which becomes active whilst browsing Amazon Marketplace and eBay, is constantly being updated and is currently in its BETA stage.
More shopping advice from Electrical Safety First
Dos and don’ts of online shopping
Do check the price – If it’s a bargain and the price is too good be true, then it probably is!
Don’t trust images – Seeing is not believing. Do not trust that the image displayed on the advert is a true representation of the product you will receive.
Do look for contact details – If the seller’s contact details are not supplied, or there is a 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.
Don’t rely on reviews – Previous happy customers may not be aware they have purchased a substandard or counterfeit item. Reviews will be based on the product working at one point in time, rather than the potential safety risks it poses.
Do buy from a reputable retailer – by buying your electrical products from reputable retailers, or directly from the manufacturer, you can be assured you’re buying the real thing.
How to check if you’ve bought a fake:
- Inspect the packaging and item carefully. Look out for the tell-tale signs of flimsy packaging and substandard printing, such as spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Compare your item to an online image from a trusted, high street retailer.
- Look for a legitimate safety certification label. All electrical products will have one or more safety certifications on their label if made by a legitimate manufacturer. If the certification mark is present only on the packaging, but not on the product itself, there’s a good chance the product is fake.
- Make sure everything that should be there is there. Fake products may not include supplementary materials such as a manual or a product registration card or even all the parts!
- Check the plug. If you’ve purchased your product from a UK retailer, look to see whether the appliance has a three-pin UK plug or charger.
- Trust your instinct. If you are still uncertain about your product for any reason, you’re probably right to be wary. Visit the high street to compare your product to those on sale in store; if your item varies in any way do not use it.
What to do if you think you might have purchased a fake electrical product:
If you suspect you have purchased a fake, stop using it immediately. Report it to Trading Standards so that they can take action against the seller; selling fake products is illegal and puts people’s lives at risk. For more advice, visit electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/spotthefake.
For more information please contact:
Tom Davies T: 07866 702069 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joshua Drew T: 07864 009875 E: email@example.com
- Electrical Safety First is a UK Charity dedicated to reducing and preventing damage, injuries and death caused by electricity. More information can be found at electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk
- Consumer research was undertaken from 18 to 21 May 2018 by Censuswide with a sample of 2,004 general consumers. The figures are representative of all UK adults.
 Five products were purchased from each of eBay, Amazon Marketplace and Wish. All but one of the products either failed tests against the safety standard or were simply non-compliant with regards to markings. In the case of the universal travel adaptors purchased from Wish and Amazon these had visible defects (lack of shutters) which rendered them a severe safety risk without testing being necessary.
 Consumer research conducted by Censuswide from 18 to 21 May 2018 found that 44.2% of those surveyed answered ‘no’ to the question ‘Do you feel confident that you know the difference between an online retailer such as Amazon and a marketplace such as Amazon Marketplace?’