‘Very unsafe’ e-bike chargers found for sale on Amazon Marketplace, eBay, Wish.com and AliExpress by consumer safety charity Electrical safety first. All sites have subsequently removed or blocked relevant listings amid calls for greater regulation of online marketplaces.
London firefighters have repeatedly warned of the dangers of using incorrect e-bike chargers and batteries after reporting a spike in calls in recent months.
The service says that in many cases the fires were caused by equipment purchased online that did not meet safety standards.
A survey by Electrical Safety First identified 59 online listings where e-bike chargers fell far short of the safety standards needed for sale to UK consumers.
Not all met UK plug standards, with many having no fuse. Non-fused outlets have no way of shutting off if the power cable fails, which is especially dangerous when a lithium-ion battery is charging.
Electrical Safety First Technical Director, Martyn Allen, said: “By the very nature of the batteries these hazardous charging devices power, this is a potential disaster on the horizon.
“The process of charging e-bike batteries must be done with compatible and compliant chargers. These chargers we have identified for sale all pose an increased risk of fire and electric shock and should never have been available for sale to UK buyers in the first place.
“Given the frightening nature of lithium-ion battery fires, it is essential that charging equipment does not pose any unnecessary risk to the battery or the user.”
While all four sites removed the listings once they were reported to them, Allen called for stricter regulation of online marketplaces.
“The lack of vital regulation needed to ensure that online marketplaces are responsible for the safety of goods sold through their platforms contributes significantly to the entry of unsafe products into homes. The government must introduce urgent legislation to finally put an end to this scandal.
The largest number of dangerous listings (21) was found on eBay.
An eBay spokesperson said: ‘We take product safety very seriously and welcome the information provided by Electrical Safety First on these products. In addition to our blocking filter algorithms and the security teams that monitor the site, we work closely with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure eBay remains free of dangerous products.
“In this case, our close working relationship with ESF and the Kensington & Chelsea Council Trading Standards team enabled the rapid withdrawal of these products.”
A spokesperson for Amazon, where 13 of the ads were found, said: “Security is important to Amazon and we want customers to shop with confidence in our stores.
“We have proactive measures in place to prevent suspicious or non-compliant products from being listed and we are monitoring products sold in our stores for product safety issues.
“Where appropriate, we remove a product from the store, contact sellers, manufacturers and government agencies for additional information, or take other action.
“If customers have concerns about an item they have purchased, we encourage them to contact our customer service directly so that we can investigate and take appropriate action. We have removed these products from sale while we investigate.
An AliExpress spokesperson said, “AliExpress takes product safety very seriously and we have strict guidelines in place to ensure a safe shopping environment. We thank Electrical Safety First for bringing these lists to our attention, we have deleted the non-compliant elements highlighted by their investigation.
“As a third-party marketplace, AliExpress does not take ownership of goods in transactions, we have policies in place that all sellers must follow.”
A Wish.com spokesperson said, “All of our merchants must comply with local laws when selling on our platform, as outlined in Wish’s Terms of Service and Policies for Merchants.
“After being made aware that a number of advertised product images do not appear to comply with UK legal standards, we have contacted the merchants who sell the products in question and requested additional compliance documentation and product images from higher resolution.
“Out of an abundance of caution and in line with our policies, we are temporarily blocking these product listings in the EU and UK markets, pending the final outcome of the merchant’s investigation. Once adequate documentation/response has been received, we will review and determine if further action is necessary.”