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How To Avoid Dodgy & Dangerous Electrical Goods This Christmas

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 18th December 2012

Dangerous electrical goods available on the internet is nothing new.  However, spotting a dangerous electrical product is not so easy and this is why there has been in excess of 4 million counterfeit products seized in the UK this year alone.  There is likely to be double this amount in total of fake electrical products making it into peoples homes, the buyers being blissfully unaware that they have purchased a potentially dangerous electrical product.

With the price of electrical goods at the forefront of buyers minds, it is little wonder that dangerous appliances are purchased online in huge quantities.  Buyers are simply looking at the price and not looking more closely at where the product is made and crucially if it is being manufactured in line with stringent UK legislation.

Electrical Adapters, toasters, extension leads, hairdryers, and phone chargers are amongst the items at the top of the list for dangerous manufacture.  They often have serious electrical defects such as loose cables, live wires, and no safety features which means that when plugged in they quickly overheat and have caused many house fires and extensive damage to electrical fixtures and fittings.  Every year 70 people die and 350,000 injuries are caused in UK homes which are due to electrical faults and faulty electrical equipment.

Many buyers mistake branded goods for genuine products and believe they are getting a great deal.  Its only when the product is used does it show its true colours.  Many people have been electrocuted by small electrical appliances such as toasters and kettles have failed to cut out when reaching boiling point going on to melt the plastic casing.  These items have the potential to put you, your family and your home at risk.

So in the final week before Christmas with many people desperately seeking that perfect present, it pays to use a little common sense when purchasing electrical goods on line.  Internet buying has increased hugely over the last few years, and whilst it can be a great way to do your Christmas shopping, you do need to be aware of counterfeit goods.   Trade Skills 4U has drawn up a checklist to ensure you don't end up making a costly error.

1.  Firstly, only buy from a reputable website or brand that you have heard of before. If buying from Ebay check the feedback of the seller and make sure other customers are happy with what they have bought. If you havent heard of them then do some digging to find out how long the website has been running and if anyone else has ordered from there before. If there is a problem with the electrical item you have purchased then you do have redress.  Many unscrupulous traders will simply set up a website for Christmas, take peoples money and either send out nothing in return or a counterfeit product.  They will simply close the website down after Christmas leaving you seriously out of pocket – or worse.  So before you buy, check that the address appears genuine – not just a PO box address or worse still no contact details at all.

2.  Check the voltage of the product is compatible for use in the UK – 230V and is fitted with a 3 pin plug.  Do not buy second hand electrical products, you don't know what condition they are in – many have had unauthorised repairs carried out and carry no warranty.  So if it doesn't work, you've lost your money.

3.  Do a price check – generally, you know what the price is on the high street, so why would it be half the price on line?  If something seems too good to be true- it probably is and its best to walk away – don't take the risk.

4. Before you buy, carefully check what the sellers terms and conditions are particularly in respect of their returns policy and privacy statement.

5. Use your credit card for purchases above £100.  You can hold the trader and card issuer liable should a problem occur.  This basically means you can apply to your card issuer and obtain a refund if you have no luck in contacting the trader directly to resolve any issues.

Lastly, when you receive your electrical item, unpack it and carefully inspect it for anything untoward – loose cables, casing showing exposed wires and inferior workmanship.  Does it contain a guarantee?  If you have any doubts, do not use it and consult a qualified registered electrician who will be more than happy to check the safety of the product.

If you are still unsure you can always get the item PAT tested or even go one step further and take a PAT Testing Course so you can then check the item yourself. This may be a bit extreme but you never know the skills could come in very handy.

By following our top 5 on line buying tips, you should stay safe over the festivities and have Happy Christmas!