Sports fans urged don’t be lured in by advertising blitz

04 July 2024


  • Sporting fans warned to be cautious as advertising campaigns by online marketplaces target them during global sporting events  
  • Previous investigations have found substandard electrical goods, risking electric shock or fire across all major online marketplaces 
  • Charity urges sporting fans “Don’t bring it home” when it comes to cheap electronics bought online in new campaign to raise awareness of unregulated online marketplaces 

Sporting fans bombarded with ads for discounted goods from online marketplaces are urged, "don't bring it home" as third-party sellers push cheap electronics during global sports events.

Previous investigations by the charity Electrical Safety First have uncovered substandard and dangerous electrical products across many major online marketplaces, which fail to meet safety standards.

Examples of dangerous goods found last year via third party sellers across a variety of online marketplaces include portable heaters posing a serious risk of electrocution, beauty buys such as hair straighteners and hair dryers featuring illegal UK plugs lacking essential safety components and substandard e-bike chargers risking fire.

“I and millions of others are rooting for England to bring it home,” Lesley Rudd, chief executive of Electrical Safety First said. “But one thing we don’t want football fans to bring home is dangerous electronics.”

“Footballing, and other global sporting events are experiencing advertising blitzes by major online marketplaces across the globe and at a time when millions of people are struggling with finances, we understand how appealing low-cost deals will be. But it’s important for fans to remember that they risk scoring an own goal if the deal they bag turns out to be a substandard or dangerous product. Substandard electronics can have serious consequences for your safety and an innocent purchase could put you and your family at risk.”

The charity is urging the next government to introduce new laws for online marketplace giants to ensure they are legally obligated to take reasonable steps to ensure goods on their sites are safe.

Currently legislation does not recognise online marketplaces as retailers or actors in the consumer supply chain, exempting them from essential rules that traditional retailers must follow. 

New research by the charity also reveals that consumers have an alarmingly high rate of trust in online marketplaces to protect them from dangerous or counterfeit goods. A nationally representative survey of more than 10,000 adults across the UK showed on average, 37% of respondents trust online marketplaces. 

Lesley Rudd added: “Online marketplaces are not legally responsible for ensuring safe products for sale. Because of this, their sites can be a minefield for substandard goods sold by third parties.  The best way to avoid scoring an own goal   is to stick to a reputable high street retailer where you can shop in confidence, reassured the product you’re buying is safe.”  

How to avoid an own goal and bring home a safe deal when shopping online: 

Pay attention to the plug! If a product is listed with a foreign plug and travel adaptor don’t buy it. It’s likely the seller has not complied with the standards for that product to be sold to UK consumers. If the plug looks oddly shaped or looks clover like in shape don’t buy it.  

Don’t buy on price alone – not all bargains are worth it! Make sure you do your homework if you decide to buy products below high street retail prices. 

Don’t just take the seller's word for it – or the reviewers! Beware of a product with solely glowing reviews, especially if the reviewers aren’t verified. Some sites cross-reference user reviews with their buyer database and label those people as 'verified purchasers'. 

Know where you’re buying from! Make sure you know where the supplier is based, a '' URL doesn’t guarantee the website is UK based. If there is no address supplied, or there is just a PO Box, be wary; many dodgy electrical goods are manufactured overseas. They may not be safety tested and could be produced as quickly and cheaply as possible. 

Beware of words qualifying an item's authenticity  If the seller claims the product is 'genuine', 'CE certified' or 'approved' double check the source. Most reputable retailers don't need to sell their products like this. 

Spot the lock to pay safely! Look for websites that allow you to pay safely – these have a padlock symbol in the address bar of the website you’re visiting. If you can’t see it, do not enter your payment details.