“This is an important campaign to warn people about the potential dangers of buying counterfeit and sub-standard electrical goods”, said Stuart McMillan MSP, who is supporting a campaign by Electrical Safety First – the UK charity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents.
According to Electrical Safety First (ESF) there has been a huge increase in the number of counterfeit and sub-standard electrical goods coming into the country. And these fakes follow the trends in must-have items – the number of fake mobile phones seized has risen by more than 50% with other top electrical fakes including hair straighteners and games.
Over the last three years there has also been a big increase in the use of social media to advertise and trade in counterfeit goods, with thousands of items being made available on a daily basis. A quarter of people said that they have seen fake products openly advertised on sites like Facebook.
Seeing such open trading may lead you to think that the products must be safe to buy. But fake goods often contain faulty parts that can cause products to overheat and even catch fire. And if you buy a counterfeit product there is no system in place should something go wrong, and it can be impossible to return a faulty fake product to the seller.
Worryingly, ESF research has shown that:
- 24% of people have knowingly bought a counterfeit product
- 21% would consider buying one in order to save money
- 16% do not think counterfeit products could put them at risk.
Stuart McMillan MSP added:
“As Christmas shopping fever takes hold, everybody is on the lookout for a bargain. But if a deal looks like it’s too good to be true, then the chances are that it probably is.
“The advice from Electrical Safety First is to stick to reputable retailers and have a look at the Electrical Safety First website for more information on buying safely.”
For more information:
Top Five Checks to Avoid a Fake Christmas
- Check the reviews: Use online review websites to find out what people are saying about products and sellers and take advantage of website checkers set up by companies to confirm you are buying from an approved stockist.
- Check the seller: Look for the seller’s contact details and ensure there is a full address, not just a PO Box number. Not all websites with a .co.uk address are based in the UK. If the seller is well established or you have bought from them before you are more likely to have confidence.
- Check the price: Do a price check on products – if it is markedly cheaper than you’d expect, alarm bells should ring. If a bargain looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Check the purchase process: Look for websites that allow you to pay safely – these have a padlock symbol on your screen when you are filling in your payment details – but don’t assume safe payment definitely means your purchase is genuine. Also ensure there is a returns or complaints procedure should you be unsatisfied.
- Check the product: When it arrives, firstly check for damage or loose wires, then check the voltage is 230V, 50Hz (the UK’s usual domestic voltage) and that they are fitted with a three-pin UK plug or charger. Also check the packaging note – does it come with instructions and a guarantee? If you have any suspicions about a product’s safety, or if you think it’s a fake, do not use it.