A National Trading Standards spokesperson said: “The latest figures from National Trading Standards and trading standards services in Scotland show that over 38,800 ‘hoverboards’ have now been subject to intervention at border points due to safety concerns. Of these, over 32,000 have now been assessed as unsafe, and some results are still outstanding.
“Trading Standards officers have detained the boards due to numerous concerns including safety issues with the plugs, cabling, chargers, batteries or the cut-off switches within the boards, which are designed to stop the battery from continuing to charge once fully charged. A faulty cut-off switch can lead to the device overheating, exploding or catching fire.
“National Trading Standards is urging consumers to be vigilant this Christmas and avoid putting their households at risk with unsafe products.”
National Trading Standards’ Top Tips for Consumers:
- Never leave the device charging unattended – especially overnight: 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, exploding or catching fire.
- 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.
- If buying online, look closely at the website before you hit the ‘buy’ button:
oTry searching for reviews of the product or the seller – do these seem genuine?
oAre there lots of spelling or grammar mistakes on the site? This can be a clue that a business is not professionally run.
oSee if you can find out where the company’s head office is based – and whether that fits with how the website presents itself.
oDo they have a landline number you can call if there are any problems? 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.
oRead the small print – notice if anything seems odd, repetitive or in incorrect English.
oIs 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.
- Report it: National Trading Standards needs your help to clamp down on unsafe products from abroad. If you believe that any online or face-to-face seller is selling potentially dangerous goods, or something you’ve bought has made you suspicious, report it to Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.
- Buying online for onward sale online? If you do this you are assuming the legal responsibilities of a business to ensure that what you’re selling complies with product safety and intellectual property legislation. For information about this visit https://www.gov.uk/starting-to-import.