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Over 1500 ‘hover boards’ detained at ports due to unsafe electric chargers

Thursday, 12th November 2015.

With Christmas approaching and balance scooters or ‘hover boards becoming a ‘must have’ gift this year, the Suffolk Trading Standards team are warning people not to be tempted by a number of unsafe balance scooters being imported into the UK which are destined for shops, markets and internet retailers. This warning follows a number of seizures in Suffolk and reports of incidents in London and Kent of scooters ‘exploding’ or catching fire whilst being charged.

Suffolk’s Import Surveillance Officers, part of the National Trading Standards Safety at Ports and Border team, have detained 1,493 balance scooters from nine separate consignments at the Port of Felixstowe this month. On inspection all scooters were assessed as being unsafe due to the charger. A further 12 consignments have been examined at other UK border points, including the airports with all 623 items being assessed as unsafe due to the charger.

Last week, Suffolk Trading Standards officers seized 14 balance scooters that were on sale in an Ipswich town centre shop at the ‘bargain’ price of £270. The officers felt that the scooters were “non-compliant” under consumer safety legislation because the plug was a two-pin with no fuse, the user manual was not written in clear English and there were no manufacture/importer details on the product, user manual or packaging. Officers are currently working with the trader to establish the import origin of the scooters and any other location that they had been supplied to for retail.

Councillor Sarah Stamp, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said:

“When shopping for electrical goods, everybody loves a bargain but the product could be of poor quality, a cheap copy, or made to look like a well-known brand. So please be aware when shopping for gifts as cheap electrical goods are very likely to contain unsafe, incorrect or faulty parts that can overheat or break just days after purchase, increasing the risk of fire or electric shock.

“Suffolk Trading Standards work hard throughout the year to ensure our residents are safe. These interventions, by the officers monitoring sales on our high streets and the imports team working at the Port of Felixstowe, demonstrate the vital role played by officers in protecting people, across the UK, from unsafe products. There has been an increase in the number of incidents being reported faulty electrical goods causing fires, particularly cheap, unbranded and fake chargers - many of which fail to meet UK safety regulations.”

If you are considering purchasing a balance scooter here are the key points you need to look out for that when looking for a compliant product:

·The plug must be a three pin UK plug. It is not acceptable for the product to be supplied with a two pin plug and adaptor for use in UK sockets. If there is an adaptor, it must be fixed in such a way that it can be removed only by using a screw driver.

·The product should have information about the importer and/or manufacturer. This must include an address but may also include a website and full contact details in case of issues – just a mobile phone number is not good enough.

·Instructions should be in good English, with advice about safe use, intended users (e.g. by age or weight).

·Don’t charge your product either overnight or if you are going out.

·Always buy from reputable sources and stores.

·Always ensure that any replacement batteries or chargers are fully compatible with the item in line with manufacturer’s instructions.

If you have purchased one of the scooters pictured or something similar, or if you have an electrical device that you suspect may be unsafe, Trading Standards advice is to stop using it immediately, do not charge the product and report the matter to Suffolk Trading Standards on 03454 040506.

Haverhill Online News

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