Group of 70 MPs and peers demand new laws to ban dangerous goods – such as fire-risk hairdryers, counterfeit phone chargers, and deadly ‘energy-saving’ devices – being sold via online marketplaces run by Facebook, Amazon and eBay
In a letter to Cabinet ministers Nadine Dorries and Kwasi Kwarteng, shared with MailOnline, they warned that consumers are continuing to be ‘placed at risk every day’ due to a lack of Government action.
Under current laws, online marketplaces are not responsible for the safety of products sold by third parties via their platform, despite profiting from their sale.
Extensive investigations by consumer charity Electrical Safety First have repeatedly found highly dangerous electrical products for sale across almost all major online marketplaces.
These have included fire-risk hairdryers, counterfeit mobile phone chargers, and ‘energy saving’ plugs that could cause severe electric shocks or even death.
One recent investigation by the charity found highly dangerous devices that were claimed to save on electricity bills, as Britons struggle through the cost-of-living crisis.
They purchased four samples of the plug-in devices – one directly from an independent website and three via eBay – that purported to either save energy or ‘stabilise electrical current’.
All four failed basic safety standards to risk fires and electric shock.
Video footage during testing showed how one device exploded and sent fragments of hot metal into the air.
Consumer charity Electrical Safety First have found highly dangerous electrical products for sale across almost all major online marketplaces – including counterfeit phone chargers
The dangerous goods on sale also include fire-risk hairdryers. Electrical Safety First are urging the public to sign a petition as part of their campaign for new laws
In response, eBay said it had overseen the ‘swift removal’ of the goods from sale and that it took various steps to ‘ensure eBay remains free of unsafe products’.
Electrical Safety First last month also recently alerted tech giant Meta to nearly 60 listings of electrical goods which are non-compliant with basic product standards on its Facebook Marketplace.
The company promised to investigate further and has since removed products.
In their letter to Ms Dorries, the Culture Secretary, and Mr Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, the MPs and peers urged the Government to publish the results of their consultation on reviewing current product safety laws, which had been promised this spring.
The cross-party group – including former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Labour’s Darren Jones, the chair of the House of Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey – also demanded new laws to protect consumers buying from online marketplaces.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Online and Home Electrical Safety wrote: ‘At present, consumers are not afforded the same protections when they are shopping on an online marketplace as they are when shopping on the high street.
‘Indeed, online marketplaces are not recognised as actors in the supply chain, and so have no responsibility for ensuring the safety of products advertised and sold on their platforms.’
They criticised how the Government, despite warnings from a number of bodies, had ‘taken no action to improve the safety of products sold on these platforms’.
‘In that time, consumers continue to be placed at risk from unsafe products sold on online marketplaces,’ their letter added.
‘This is worsened by these platforms having no legal obligations to remove these products.
‘It is, therefore, crucial that the Government publish the Product Safety Consultation promised “later this spring” and introduce new legislation that ensures that only safe products can be sold on online marketplaces.
‘This would achieve the Government’s ambitions of ensuring that only safe products are legally placed on the market now and in the future and that the UK is the safest place in the world to be online.
‘Without this legislation, consumers continue to be placed at risk every day.
‘Consumers deserve equal protections regardless of where they are shopping.’
MPs and peers from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Online and Home Electrical Safety are demanding new laws to protect consumers buying from online marketplaces
In their letter to Cabinet ministers Nadine Dorries and Kwasi Kwarteng, the MPs and peers warned that consumers are continuing to be ‘placed at risk every day’
As part of their campaign for new laws, Electrical Safety First are urging the public to sign a petition calling for online marketplaces to have to follow the same safety regulations as other UK retailers.
They also want new legislation to make sure electrical goods offered for sale on their sites by third party sellers are safe for use in the UK, and to ensure that any electrical products reported as unsafe must be removed from sites within 24 hours.
Labour MP Yvonne Fovargue, chair of the APPG on Online and Home Electrical Safety, said: ‘Momentum has built across all parties to finally close this gap in the law.
‘Consumers have been left without adequate protection from dangerous products for too long and it is imperative the Government proves it is on the side of the consumer by changing the law and regulating online marketplaces once and for all.’
Lesley Rudd, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, said: ‘Consumers continue to be left to play ‘Russian Roulette’ with their safety when shopping for electrical goods via online marketplaces.
‘The evidence that online marketplaces continue to host dangerous goods on their platforms is undeniable.
‘It cannot be one rule for our trusted high street retailers and another for online giants.
‘The Government must face up to the realisation that the way we shop has changed and that the law must catch up to ensure shoppers remain safe online.’