2021-01-10

Is Amazon (UK) safe?

I think, personally, that many sites (like eBay, sorry) have a reputation for "iffy" things being sold. I think this is mainly because they are primarily a platform for third party sellers who can easily be "iffy". I may be wrong, that is just my personal opinion / perception. I generally avoid eBay, but when I do buy I try to check what I have got very carefully.

Until now I thought Amazon were better. Even more so, when an item is sold by Amazon and not a third party through Amazon. That was until I bought this treadmill (I'm not going to link to it).

I unpacked, plugged in, and it seems to work fine. Yay.

But then I noticed the plug was rather odd, and on checking I find it is dangerous and illegal.

So, I contacted Amazon. They initially suggested a postage label, but when I explained I was not happy to pay postage to return, and had discarded the packaging already, they arranged a collection for this week. Only once collected will they refund, apparently.

Now, you would expect Amazon to stop listing the item, but no. Their reaction is to put it on offer!

I posted a review with a picture of the plug saying it may be illegal, and they even approved my review and published it! To be clear this is "Dispatched from and sold by Amazon." so Amazon are now knowingly selling a dangerous and illegal item.

So what's wrong? Most obviously the plug...

  • No CE mark (nor UKCA mark) anywhere on the whole thing, or manual - that is illegal anyway!
  • No kite mark or BS1363 on the plug
  • Plug has no fuse! That is a huge clue that it is not legal.
  • Live and neutral pins are 3.6mm x 5.6mm and 17mm long, that is too small and too short.
  • Earth pin is shielded! Watch for this, it is a big clue that it is not legal.
  • Earth pin is 3.7mm x 8.0mm and 21 mm long, that is too small and too short.
  • Live pins are only 6mm from edge - meant to be more than 50% further for safety!
I checked a bit more, and surprisingly the actual lead is not made of wet string, it is 0.3Ω end to end and does not get warm at the 1.5A running load. I did not actually strip out to measure the conductor size, but the resistance and temperature checks are encouraging. The Earth is connected, and in a test socket it did stay connected when plugged right in, surprisingly.

So the plug is a bad sign, but what is worse is Amazon's reaction to this is to simply put it on sale, not to withdraw it from sale! Not even to put a hold on sales until they check. More sort of "quick, sell the stock while we can".

Surely Amazon should have a process when stocking items to check for a CE or UKCA mark on the product. Surely this would especially apply where they are the seller, not some third party, so they are on the hook for the illegality of putting on the market in the UK. I know there can be some fake products with fake CE/UKCA marks, and if that was the case I would have sympathy for Amazon - but Amazon stocked this item without checking something as basic as looking for a CE mark, or checking for BS1363/kite mark on the plug. How is that not STANDARD PRACTICE for Amazon when stocking any item?

So, unfortunately, I now have to say beware of Amazon!

P.S. I tried reporting to Trading Standards and was told I would have to talk to Citizen's Advice, who have not replied. Why is this not simply a matter for the police?

P.P.S. Amazon seemed to have pulled the listing, finally.

15 comments:

  1. Presume you've reported it to trading standards?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. P.S. I tried reporting to Trading Standards and was told I would have to talk to Citizen's Advice, who have not replied. Why is this not simply a matter for the police?

      Delete
    2. Why should you have to talk to Citizen's Advice? Trading Standards are the statutory body, Citizen's Advice good as they are, are a network of independent charities. Trading Standards should not be fobbing you off like this, it is their statutory duty!

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    3. And yes I get talking to citizen's advice is the official way to do it. I just don't get how a statutory body has managed to wedge a private and independent charity in front of themselves?

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    4. Because Trading Standards are part of a Local Authority. And Local Authorities love any possible method of getting out of doing their job.

      Delete
  2. Amazon has been full of this counterfeit tat for years, they don't care. I've sent back loads of stuff and they just refund you and keep selling it. In this particular case it's a serious fire risk with no fuse, but will Amazon be held to blame when it causes a house fire? Nope, they'll just say it was defective equipment.

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  3. Trading Standards are wrong to direct you to Citizens' Advice - this sort of thing falls squarely into Trading Standards remit.
    My company has just spent the thick end of ten grand getting electrical safety and EMC testing done for our new lighting control product, to support the CE / UKCA mark. If Trading Standards can't be arsed to go after the most blantant abuses, why should honest firms bother ? (Answer: In my case it's because I like to be able to sleep at night without worrying whether our kit has burnt a school down...)

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  4. CA and TS are both useless. TS have been refusing to talk to the public for some years now. CA have no clue about the law and give out incorrect information, leading the hapless consumer on a wild-good chase about how to resolve whatever problem it is. It's all similar to trying to report fraud to Action-Fraud because there is not a single police force in England that will accept a fraud report.

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    Replies
    1. Then who will Trading Standards talk to?

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    2. Trading Standards will only accept reports from Citizen's Advice. But Citizen's Advice refuse to pass reports to TS on a one-off basis. CA will only send reports to TS if there is a large batch of reports about the same trader/company. So individual breaches are no longer investigated.

      Delete
  5. I had better luck with Trading Standards and a similar plug from an eBay purchase. I spoke to my local Trading Standards team who took some details and said it might be a while before I heard anything. 6 months later they dropped me a note to say they had just had a dawn raid of a warehouse somewhere in the UK partly as a result of my evidence.

    This was a few years ago when local authority services hadn't been cut quite so much though.

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  6. .....and your customer return will probably appear discounted on the Amazon Warehouse pages soon..

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  7. I wonder if this was originally fulfilled by Amazon, the seller didn't pay their bill and Amazon inherited the stock?

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  8. Got to be some newspaper out there that would love to have a go at tax-dodging Amazon for selling illegal, unsafe products.

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