Government ‘must act urgently’ to stop the sale of unsafe electricals online

Many household products such as hairdryers, heaters and phone chargers sold through online marketplaces have been found to contain unsafe electronics.

A recent survey by Electrical Safety First (ESF) found nearly four in ten (37 per cent) people are using online marketplaces to compare prices in a bid to get the best deals as the cost-of-living crisis bites.

But a new investigation by the charity has revealed that people are more at risk of buying dangerous products online than ever before.

ESF investigated listings of electrical goods across five leading online marketplaces, including Amazon Marketplace, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, AliExpress and It found more than 50 listings of products for use all over the home, from the driveway to the kitchen, were unsafe.

One EV charging cable purchased from eBay presented a risk of electric shock and overheating when it was tested by a specialist lab. Two other EV charging cables purchased from Amazon Marketplace also failed electric shock tests.

As households continue to grapple with soaring heating bills, ESF found that potentially lethal heaters are finding their way into people’s homes via online marketplaces.

A portable heater purchased via eBay proved to be one of the most dangerous products uncovered by the charity, with 240 volts running through a heating element easily exposed or accessible through an insecure cover.

Cyclists were also found to be at risk from unsafe e-bike chargers available on Amazon Marketplace, despite a previous investigation by ESF highlighting their fire risk.

Lesley Rudd, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, said: “With so many people feeling the squeeze, we’re concerned that more shoppers than ever could be exposing themselves to risk from supposed bargains found on online marketplaces. These products can come at a dangerous cost. People are buying everyday products like hair dryers and phone chargers online without knowing the hazards they present.

“Third-party sellers are well aware of consumers’ desire to save money right now, so they are flooding the UK with cheap, poor-quality electricals through online marketplaces. We’re even seeing them invest in advertising to drive sales, despite their products putting consumers at serious risk.

“That’s why the government must act urgently to protect people by introducing legislation that forces online marketplaces to take reasonable steps to ensure the products they sell on their platforms are safe.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “Safety is a top priority at Amazon and we require all products in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations.

“We have removed these products while we investigate. If customers have concerns about an item they’ve purchased, we encourage them to contact us directly so we can investigate and take appropriate action.”

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