A new investigation carried out by Electrical Safety First reveals that an estimated 638,000 consumers in Scotland, have seen fake electrical products for sale near them or online, and 195,000 have knowingly, or by accident, bought a fake electrical item in the last twelve months.
The Charity also found that three in five fake electrical products are bought online, with a third of people experiencing major problems with the product they bought.
As this Black Friday’s retail bonanza marks the start of the Christmas shopping season, the Charity is reminding people to ‘spot the fake’ when looking to buy electrical items.
However, further research showed that it’s not always easy for people to spot a fake. When asked to identify fake and genuine electrical products from images, the majority of UK consumers had difficulty telling them apart. Three quarters of consumers were unable to identify genuine GHD hair straighteners and three in five[vii] could not spot a fake Apple charger. Over half[viii] of consumers said that they would be likely to buy a product that was described as “genuine,” “real” or “authentic”.
Looking at online shoppers specifically, the research showed that today’s UK consumers are more likely to use online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay than buy directly from trusted retailers’ websites. One in five of these shoppers admit to spending absolutely no time assessing whether an electrical item is genuine and over half[xi] presume that electrical items for sale online are genuine.
Additionally, some people are knowingly buying fake electrical items. One in six[xii] 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.
Reflecting on these findings, Wayne MacKay, Deputy Public Affairs Manager at Electrical Safety First, said: “Ahead of Black Friday’s shopping frenzy, we’re reminding consumers that among the genuine electrical items on special offer, there are dangerous fake electrical products to look out for. Our research shows that many of us could be more likely to buy a fake if we’re under pressure to buy by a certain date or in a race to get the cheapest deal. In that rush, it’s easy to mistake a fake for a real product. We’re urging people to learn how to ‘spot the fake’ – if you’re not sure our advice is to buy from an official online retailer. When you buy a fake, at best you’re being swindled but at worst you could be putting your life at risk.”
Electrical Safety First examined a random selection of popular electrical accessories such as chargers, power banks and adaptors, purchased through online marketplaces. The investigation revealed that while many items appear to be genuine on the product page and even in appearance; on internal examination, many were substandard and even dangerous. Small fake internal components in electrical items are at risk of exploding, leaving consumers open to serious injury or property damage.
To reduce the number of electrical fires in Scotland caused by products with counterfeit and sub-standard parts, Electrical Safety First is calling on the Scottish Government to work with local government to develop a clear strategy to combat the sale of counterfeit electrical goods.
Wayne MacKay added: “We are working to raise awareness of this issue with Scottish consumers in the run up to Christmas, to prevent fires caused by electricity over the festive period.”
Electrical Safety First is warning all shoppers to be aware of the risks that accompany fake or substandard electrical products. Visit electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/SpotTheFake to learn about how to spot a fake electrical product.