• Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

Potentially dangerous ‘power-saving boxes’ on Amazon and eBay as energy price crisis sets in

BySamuel M. Craig

Sep 21, 2022

Amazon and eBay seem to have removed dozens of so-called “power saving boxes” from their websites, after what? investigation raised concerns about their safety.

The devices plug into the mains and claim to work by ‘smoothing’ household voltage, which they claim then ‘optimizes’ the performance of appliances such as refrigerators, saving on energy costs.

However, our specialized laboratory has found no proof of their effectiveness. He also found that these boxes could be dangerous due to failure to meet UK electrical safety standards.

As this is the second time we have raised concerns about their safety in a year, it raises questions about how they have continued to be sold on these major websites.

The regulator, the Office for Product Safety and Standards, also issued four separate recall notices for similar devices on AliExpress, eBay, Wish and a now-defunct site called Motex, citing a “serious risk of fire and electrical shock”.

In our latest survey, we bought and tested a selection of six devices from Amazon and eBay, three from each site, after finding more than 90 for sale on Amazon and 20 for sale on eBay.

The devices we bought on eBay cost between £14.58 and £23.64. On Amazon they cost between £10.99 and £12.29.

Get more tips on how to avoid counterfeit and dangerous products on line

Sockets have failed electrical safety tests

We sent them to our specialized laboratory, which carried out a test to see if the sockets saved energy. The lab found no evidence that they could save energy or money.

More worryingly, the lab found that the six sockets tested also failed to meet basic UK electrical safety standards, meaning they are so poorly constructed that they pose a potential fire hazard. and electric shock.

The lab found that they lacked all the necessary markings and documentation for compliant sale in the UK, and none were sufficiently built to meet the necessary internal build quality standards.

Two of the Amazon plugs tested by our lab were found to have wires connected to an unidentifiable “clay-like substance” – while one of the eBay plugs contained a resistor placed in a powder-like substance unidentifiable white.

The lab said this means everyone tested could be a potential safety hazard, meaning they could lead to fire or electric shock. While we can’t test every power saving box that’s on sale, we’re concerned that others may be unsafe due to the fact that every outlet we’ve tested has a similar design.

We are also concerned that consumers struggling with rising Cost of life may be tempted to purchase such devices, which we believe simply do not work.

We’ve shared links to each of these products with the platforms, along with dozens more for sale.

eBay removed all listings and Amazon appeared to remove all but three – but did not answer further questions about whether these devices were allowed to be listed on the platform in the first place. At least a dozen more energy-saving boxes have appeared on Amazon at the time of writing. Five other new listings have appeared on eBay at the time of writing, raising questions about the effectiveness of any measures in place to prevent them from listing in the first place.

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Amazon and eBay respond

In response to our latest investigation, eBay said it has removed listings that we reported to the company.

“We closely monitor the product safety databases in the UK, EU and US and when unsafe products are added to these databases we ban them from our site and update our blocking filters, which aim to prevent their re-registration. These filters blocked 7.4 million dangerous ads in 2021.’

The company added that eBay has strict policies that make it clear that sellers should not mislead buyers, and it takes action against those who don’t comply. He said his security teams proactively monitor his site for removal of material and work closely with stakeholders to ensure his site remains free of dangerous products.

Amazon, meanwhile, said it had already removed the three products we tested before contacting the company.

He said security is a “top priority” for the platform. “We have proactive measures in place to prevent non-compliant products from being listed and we are monitoring products sold in our stores for product safety issues.” He added that third-party sellers are to comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and Amazon policies when listing items for sale, and that if necessary, it contact vendors, manufacturers, and government agencies for additional information.

Amazon said customers with concerns about any item they purchased should contact customer service so they can investigate.

He wouldn’t be fired at whether he had removed any of the other 90 devices, which no longer appear to be available for sale. It also wouldn’t say whether the products are allowed to be sold on the site in general.

Dangerous power-saving devices reported earlier this year

Although Amazon and eBay removed the products we tested in our most recent investigation, we were concerned to see them on sale in the first place.

We first spotted so-called energy-efficient appliances for sale on Amazon and eBay in February, and published our first appliance survey in Which? magazine in June, contacting companies about them in April.

In our first survey, we tested two energy-saving devices from eBay and two from Amazon. All four basic safety checks failed – and our lab found they were so poorly constructed that they posed a potential fire and electrocution hazard. Just like this time, none of them were found to save energy.

The first Amazon device we tested, which cost £13.41, failed electrical equipment safety regulations due to ‘poor construction’ leading to a ‘risk of electric shock’, our lab said specialized.

On Amazon, this device received 33% one-star ratings on Amazon, with more than one customer warning it was a “scammer”, a “scam” and a ” dangerous product”.

The second Amazon device we tested, which cost £15.99, claimed that even when it was on 24 hours a day [a day] 365 days [a year]’ the outlet would not ‘overcharge’ electricity bills and within a month could reduce energy consumption by up to 35%.

Our lab test found no evidence that the device reduced power consumption. He also found that it had failed basic safety tests due to poor construction, including socket pins that “snapped” easily in the hands of the tester.

We tested two sockets from eBay, which cost £13.76 and £12.76 respectively. Again, both safety tests failed due to poor construction, including concerns about pins not fitting properly into a socket.

In response at the time, Amazon delisted the two products we tested – but others continued to be on sale. eBay removed the plugs we tested at the time from the list – along with all the others for sale on the website.

Read our guide to how to spot a fake review to help you navigate the customer reviews you see online

Who? calls for stricter regulation

Our investigations have repeatedly shown how items that should not be on sale easily evade the controls in place on major online marketplaces – from dangerous diet pillsto insufficient fire alarms and teeth whiteners with dangerous levels of hydrogen peroxide.

Who? considers that the measures put in place by marketplaces to control the sale of dangerous products are clearly insufficient and that much remains to be done to prevent ineffective and potentially dangerous products from being listed. While Amazon and eBay both claim to have removed energy-saving boxes from their sites, we’ve already seen other nearly identical products reappear.

This is of particular concern in the case of products such as these so-called energy-saving sockets, at a time when energy bills are at the forefront of many consumers’ concerns.

Who? Calls on the regulator to urgently speed up the release of its long-promised consultation to ensure marketplaces are held accountable for products sold through their sites.

Rocio Concha, which one? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said:

“These fraudulent energy-saving devices not only mislead consumers into believing that the products will save them money during the cost of living crisis, but are also a huge safety concern. , exposing consumers to the risk of fire or electric shock.

“After unsafe electrical outlets were rightfully removed earlier this year, nearly identical products have quickly returned to online marketplaces. Current security measures and reactive approaches to unsafe products taken by the largest online marketplaces, where many items are only removed after they have already been made available for sale to buyers, are not fit for purpose,” she added.

“The government must urgently give online platforms greater legal responsibility to prevent the sale of dangerous products. The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is to recommend tougher laws and regulations as part of its long-awaited consultation on product safety.

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