E-bargains could be a costly mistake

Fires relating to fake or cheaply made phone chargers are on the rise but could be easily avoided warns Enfield’s Trading Standards team.

Officers from Enfield Council and campaign group Electrical Safety First in conjunction with Apple and Samsung visited two schools to test students’ charging devices and found a significant number failed in their safety assessments.

At St. Ignatius School, 67 leads were assessed and 41 failed; 30 plugs were assessed and ten failed; five items were found to be counterfeit. At Chace Community School, 225 leads were assessed – 98 of these failed; 92 plugs were assessed and ten failed; 16 items were found to be counterfeit.

The adaptors were examined for signs of abnormal wear and tear and breakages which could affect the safety of the devices. The adaptors were then inserted into a test gauge to verify that the plug pins were the correct size and that the spacing of the pins were correct. This test can highlight counterfeit items, whose pins are quite often outside of the required specification. Finally, the internal circuitry was subjected to a high voltage test. Where possible, students were given replacement chargers or leads if their old ones failed.

Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulatory Services, Cllr George Savva, said: “As the summer is now in full swing, we know a lot of people will be buying new or replacement leads and chargers to take away with them on holiday. But the difference between a genuine product and a fake, or cheaper version is much more than the price – it could genuinely be about life or death. Counterfeit or cheap/easily damaged goods can cause fires. You don’t want that on your conscience. Before you buy, make sure you are confident in the quality of what you are buying.”

To illustrate the dangers of these products, Electrical Safety First has made a video, which can be viewed here. They also have some sound advice on how to spot fake electrical products online. With 1 in 7 British shoppers experiencing loss or serious damage caused by an electrical item purchased from an e-commerce website, it’s important to report a fake product to Trading Standards. You can also get help from Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.

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