Apple fans will know the pain of losing or breaking an iPhone or iPad charger. Because an official Apple replacement cable costs a hefty £19.00, it's tempting to save money by ordering a cheaper, non-Apple alternative online. Some of these fake chargers are available on Amazon for as little as £3.49.
But according to research conducted by UL and cited by The Chartered Trading Standards Institute today, these fake chargers aren't just a false economy – they're also a health hazard. When 400 fake Apple chargers bought from various online outlets were examined, 397 – or 99% of them – failed a basic safety test.
Separate research found that used electrical goods sold at local charity shops, second-hand stores and antiques dealers can also be risky. According to The Chartered Trading Standards Institute, 15% of the 3,019 pre-owned electrical devices tested failed to meet safety requirements. This figure rose significantly to 27% in London.
Leon Livermore, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, warned consumers: "Only buy second-hand electrical goods that have been tested and only buy online electrical goods from trusted suppliers. It might cost a few pounds more but counterfeit and second-hand goods are an unknown entity that could cost you your home or even your life, or the life of a loved-one."
Meanwhile, Gillian Guy of Citizens Advice urged consumers to examine electrical items properly before buying them, saying: "Look out for tell-tale signs of counterfeiting such as mistakes in brand names or logos, and check plugs for safety marks - all genuine electrical items made in the EU should have a CE mark on them."
How to spot a dangerous, counterfeit, mobile phone charger, according to the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.
"Check that there is at least 9.5 mm between the edge of the pins and the edge of the charger (9.5 mm is about the width of a ballpoint pen). If the distance between the edge of the pins and the edge of the charger is less than 9.5 mm, there is a risk of electric shock when plugging in and unplugging the charger from a socket.
Plug the charger into a socket but don’t switch it on or connect it to your appliance.
Does it plug in easily? If the charger does not easily plug into a socket, the pins may be the wrong size or length, or the distance between the pins may be wrong. If pins do not fit properly into the socket, overheating, arcing and mechanical damage can occur to both the socket and the charger, which can be dangerous."
"Look for a manufacturer’s brand name or logo, model and batch number. Check for a CE mark.
Check that the output voltage and current ratings marked on the charger and your electrical device are the same.
Do not rely on a CE mark alone as a guarantee of safety – it’s simply a declaration by the manufacturer that the product meets all the safety requirements of European law, but they can be easily forged."
Warnings and instructions
"Adequate warnings and instructions must be provided. As a minimum, user instructions should provide information on conditions and limitations of use, how to operate the charger safely, basic electrical safety guidance and details of how to safely dispose of the charger when it is no longer required."
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