Be Careful Of Buying Electrical Goods Online They Could Be Counterfeit

Some of the most popular e-commerce sites are being misused by ruthless sellers exploiting online shoppers, exposing them to thousands of substandard, counterfeit and potentially dangerous electrical goods.

Consumer protection charity Electrical Safety First have discovered a shocking 1 in 3 UK residents, the equivalent of 18 million people, have mistakenly purchased a counterfeit electrical item online. Shoppers believed the product they were buying was genuine, only to discover a fake delivered to their homes, posing a potential risk of electric shock or fire.

Millennials are most likely to fall victim to counterfeit scams, with half of 25 to 34-year-olds being conned into buying fake electrical goods online. In contrast, less than 10% of people aged 55+ have received a counterfeit item after shopping on e-commerce websites.

The Charity uncovered dangerous electrical goods for sale on Amazon, Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Fruugo, including tumble dryers, Kodi boxes, kettles, travel adaptors, and hair straighteners. 1 in 7 people suffered damage or loss as a result of a fake electrical item bought online and products had a variety of frightening safety flaws including a serious lack of protection from electric shock and the potential to cause a fire. Alarmingly, a number of goods advertised also matched items listed on the Charity’s product recall list.

This is of concern as 92% of people believe e-commerce platforms regulate and monitor third party sellers to protect buyers from purchasing counterfeit products when they clearly don’t.




Here’s some advice on protecting yourself when shopping online for electrical goods.

Firstly, if the price is too good to be true, then it probably is! Don’t trust that the image displayed in the advert is a true representation of the product you will receive. 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.

You can’t always trust reviews as previously happy customers may not be aware they have purchased a substandard or counterfeit item. Reviews will be based on the product working when people receive it rather than the potential safety risks it poses.  If you are buying online please always buy from a reputable retailer or directly from the manufacturer, to be assured you’re buying the real thing.

If you buy online when your goods arrive check to see if they are fake. Look out for flimsy packaging and substandard printing, spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Compare it to online images from a trusted, high street retailer. Does it have a legitimate safety certification label - all electrical products will have one or more if made by a legitimate manufacturer. If these are only present on the packaging, but not on the product itself, there’s a good chance the product is fake.

Is everything there that should be? Fake products may not include a manual or a product registration card or even all the parts! Always check the plug. Goods from a UK retailer should have a three-pin UK plug or charger. Finally, always 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.

If you suspect you have purchased a fake, stop using it immediately. Report it to your local council’s 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 and www.bedsfire.gov.uk