Investigation discovers dangerous products on sale to Crawley residents

Dangerous products putting residents at risk have been found for sale in and around Crawley prompting calls for urgent changes to the law.

An investigation by Electrical Safety First discovered plug sockets posing a risk of electric shock and electrical beauty appliances such as hair straighteners that fail to meet basic standards for sale online by sellers within a 20km radius of Crawley.

The investigation has prompted an urgent plea to Crawley MP Henry Smith to take up a Private Members Bill in the House of Commons to regulate online marketplaces that would make them responsible for the safety of goods sold via their platforms.

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Current gaps in the law mean that online marketplace such as eBay and Amazon are not responsible for the safety of goods sold via their platforms.

A universal plug socket risking electric shock - non compliant with product standards. Picture courtesy of Electrical Safety First

The charity investigated both Facebook Marketplace and eBay as part of its investigation, identifying six listings in and around Crawley that failed to meet product safety standards in the UK.

Universal socket outlets were found, risking exposing the user to live parts and electric shock whilst beauty appliances such as hair straighteners were found for sale with EU plugs, failing to comply with UK product regulations.

Crawley MP Henry Smith, has been selected as part of the House of Commons Bill Ballot draw which selects a handful of MPs who then have the opportunity to pick a Private Members Bill to take through the House of Commons.

Electrical Safety First is urging the MP to adopt its Sale of Goods Online (Safety) Bill that would close the loophole in the law whereby online marketplaces are not responsible for goods sold via their sites by third party sellers.

Other products found by the charity include plug-in devices which purported to save consumers energy on their household bills, but instead exposed them to both electric shock and fire.

Electrical Safety First reported the products to both eBay and Facebook Marketplace. On contacting eBay the products were swiftly removed for sale. The charity has received no response from Meta (Facebook) regarding the findings on its marketplace at the time of contacting press.

Martyn Allen, technical director of Electrical Safety First said: “Unfortunately, Crawley isn’t an exception to the widespread issue of dangerous electrical goods being sold online.

"Our investigation shows how local residents in Crawley are being put directly at risk from dangerous goods due to an unjust gap in the law.

"We urge Henry Smith to take up our Bill so that people in Crawley, and around the country, can be safer from the dangers of substandard electrical goods sold online.”

An eBay spokesperson said: “We welcome the information provided to us by Electrical Safety First and we have removed these items.

"We take product safety extremely seriously and our close working relationships with stakeholders, including the Office for Product Safety and Standards and Trading Standards, are an important part of our global product safety strategy for keeping our platform safe.

"Our Regulatory Portal enables authorities from around the world to remove listings of unsafe products within two hours and as of today, 182 agencies have been onboarded, and more than 32,000 listings removed.

“We also have automatic block filters in place, aimed at preventing unsafe listings. These filters blocked 7.4 million listings in 2021 and are updated on a regular basis.

"On the rare occasion that an unsafe product does make it onto site, we swiftly remove it and take enforcement action against the seller, which can be in the form of a warning, suspension or ban.”