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Electrical Safety Week - Don't shop fake this Christmas

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is urging Essex residents to be vigilant when buying electrical goods online this Christmas.  

With the convenience of internet shopping, online marketplaces are becoming a more popular choice for online shopping. 

However, in the UK online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Wish are not bound to the same laws as traditional retailers. This means that fake and other dangerous electrical products are being sold to unknowing customers. Containing sub-standard or counterfeit parts, they present a serious risk of fire or electric shock. 

This week (23rd - 29th November) fire services across the country are working with Electrical Safety First to highlight the dangerous issue and give advice about how to stay safe. 

Last year, Electrical Safety First tested 15 electrical products purchased from well-known online retailers. Fourteen of the products failed against the UK safety standard, with some posing a severe risk of electric shock or fire. Although, these products were removed from sale once the marketplaces were notified, there is still a big problem in the UK with the availability of counterfeit products as there is still nothing in place to stop them being sold.  

So if you are thinking about purchasing electrical items online, please read our safety advice first: 

 
How to spot fake electrical products online 

  • If the price is (almost) right, it’s probably fake 
    Some fakes are for sale just below the recommended retail value, hoodwinking shoppers that are too savvy to fall for the ‘too good to be true’ deals. 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 reviewer's! 
    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 ‘co.uk’ 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 fake electrical goods are manufactured overseas, where they will not be safety tested and are produced as quickly and cheaply as possible. 
     
  • Beware of words qualifying an item’s authenticity  
    If the seller claims the product is ‘genuine’, ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ 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 at the bottom of the screen when you are filling in your payment details. If you can’t see it, do not enter your payment details 

 

How to spot if you’ve bought a fake item 

  • 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. If you’re questioning the packaging, 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 – you’re probably right 
    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. 

 

For more information, please visit the Electrical Safety First website: www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guidance/safe-shopping-and-counterfeit-products/ 

 

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