Trading Standards Issue Hoverboard Warning
The self balancing two wheeled boards have become top of many young people’s Christmas list but Trading Standards are warning that the demand has led to an influx of cheap and dangerous imitations
Over the last seven weeks 17,000 hoverboards have been detained at the UK’s borders due to a range of concerns, such as safety issues with the plug, cabling, charger, battery or the cut-off switch within the board. A total of 15,000 of them, 88 per cent, have been assessed as unsafe. Many of the detained boards were found to have noncompliant plugs without fuses, which increases the risk of the device overheating, exploding or catching fire.
In recent months these faults have caused extensive damage to people’s property and National Trading Standards – in conjunction with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute – is urging consumers to be vigilant this Christmas and avoid putting households at risk with unsafe products.
Richard Webb, Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards and Community Safety Manager said:
“With Christmas fast approaching consumers may be under pressure to buy products online. If you are considering purchasing a hoverboard take a few moments to check out the site you are considering purchasing it from to make sure it is genuine.”
“Are the prices low? If they look too good to be true they probably are. Search for reviews of the product and the seller. Do they look genuine?”
“Also have a good look at the site. Does it have lots of spelling and grammar mistakes? This can be a clue that a business in not professionally run.”
“If you do suspect any sellers, websites or products of being unsafe, please report them to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06. By contacting the helpline, you will not only be able to get high quality, independent, consumer advice on your rights, but also, all reports will be sent directly to the most appropriate Trading Standards Service”
Whether you already own one of these products or intend to buy one this Christmas, follow these top tips.:
- If buying online, look closely at the website before you hit the ‘buy’ button:
- Try searching for reviews of the product or the seller – do these seem genuine?
- Are there lots of spelling or grammar mistakes on the site? This can be a clue that a business is not professionally run.
- See if you can find out where the company’s head office is based – and whether that fits with how the website presents itself. Bear in mind that if the company is based abroad, it can be more difficult to get a complaint dealt with or return a faulty product.
- Read the small print – notice if anything seems odd, repetitive or in incorrect English.
- Is there an ‘s’ at the end of the ‘http’ part of the web address, or is there a padlock symbol in the task bar? This means the website is using an encrypted system that keeps your details more secure.
- Don’t be dazzled by a bargain: Are the prices incredibly low? If they look too good to be true, they probably are – particularly if some of your other checks have put doubts in your mind.
- Be aware that criminals exploit high demand: When items like self-balancing scooters start to sell out at well-known retailers, the void is quickly filled by crooks churning out poor quality imitations that can put people in danger. Don’t ‘panic buy’ from the first website you find – do your usual common-sense checks.
- Check the device: Things to look out for include the shape of the plug – the first unsafe products identified often had a clover-shaped plug. Also check the device for markings or traceable information, such as the name and contact details of the manufacturer and / or importer.
Richard added:” To avoid fires do not leave these devices charging unattended and to always unplug it when it is fully charged.
“A faulty cut-off switch (designed to stop the battery from continuing to charge once fully charged) or a plug without a fuse, as seen in many products detained so far, could lead to the device overheating, catching fire or even exploding .”
Notes to editors:
- This advice is part of Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service’s 365alive initiative.
- For more information about the initiative, please visit www.365alive.co.uk