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Home » News & Events » 2016 » November » Spot the Fake: Electrical Safety Week

Spot the Fake: Electrical Safety Week

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is supporting Electrical Fire Safety Week, which is running this week and is urging residents to watch out for fake and substandard goods.

New research carried out by Electrical Safety First reveals that an estimated nine million UK consumers[i] have purchased a fake electrical product as a Christmas gift in the past. As this Black Friday's retail bonanza encourages people to shop for a festive bargain, the Charity is reminding people to watch out for fake electrical products as they present a serious fire risk.

Electrical safety first spot the fake 04 2

Online retailers account for the majority of counterfeit purchases, with three in five[ii] of all counterfeit electrical purchases taking place online. The Charity's research showed that UK consumers are more likely to use online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay than buy directly from trusted retailers' websites[iii]. One in five[iv] of these shoppers admit to spending absolutely no time assessing whether an electrical item is genuine and over half[v] presume that electrical items that they see for sale online are genuine.

Additionally, some people are knowingly buying fake electrical items. One in six[vi] consumers say they would consider buying a product they suspected was fake if it was cheaper than the original. Ten per cent said that they would buy a suspected fake if under pressure to buy it by a certain date or if it was difficult to find due to high demand.

As part of the Fire Kills Campaign, Station Commander Stuart Crebbin said "We would like to urge shoppers in Herefordshire and Worcestershire to take the time to check that the products they are buying are genuine. Fake electrical products appear more convincing than ever, but they can contain less than half the internal components required to run safely. So, while there will be a lot of demand for this year's 'must have' Christmas gifts, remember that if a bargain looks too good to be true, the chances are it probably is".

Electrical Safety First and HWFRS have produced the following guidance to help shoppers avoid dangerous fake and substandard electrical products:

  • Buy electrical products from reputable retailers, this way you can be assured you're buying the real thing.
  • Check prices and shop around! Check online shops and if possible, visit the high street. If a bargain looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Check that voltage is 230-240V, 50Hz and that products are fitted with a three-pin UK plug or charger.
  • Look for the padlock symbol at the bottom of the screen when you are filling in your payment details.
  • Beware glowing reviews, especially if the reviewers aren't verified.
  • Beware of words qualifying an item's authenticity, if the seller claims the product is 'genuine', 'real' or 'authentic' double check the source. Most reputable retailers don't need to sell their products like this.
  • Look for the seller's contact details, for online marketplaces. Look for a full address and not just a PO Box number. Not all websites with a .co.uk address are based in the UK.
  • Read product guarantees, terms and conditions, and returns policies before you buy.

For more information on how to spot a fake, including after you've bought it, visit www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/SpotTheFake

[i] 17% of total population of over 16's in UK (52,852,169) said that they had bought an electrical product as a Christmas gift that was fake.
[ii] Ipsos MORI, 2016, 60% of all purchases of counterfeit electrical products took place online.
[iii] 57% buy on online marketplaces, 48% buy from online retailers.
[iv] 20% of people surveyed.
[v] 51% (of base of 308) of people who said that they would not check a product was genuine if the product was selling quickly.
16% of people surveyed.