Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Trading Standards Officers are warning residents to watch out when buying cheap replacement smartphone, tablet or laptop chargers.
They say these imitation ‘copy’ chargers are unbranded versions of items such as iPhones or iPad chargers and are being sold at far cheaper prices. Previous Council spot checks have revealed a high percentage of these chargers fail to comply with strict European electrical safety laws.
Officers previously tested 20 smartphone chargers and laptop chargers focusing on accessory shops as well as internet traders.
Up to 16 of the 20 chargers tested failed to comply with the appropriate safety legislation and posed a serious risk of injury to consumers. The results confirmed fears that unbranded replacement chargers for smartphones and laptops can pose a risk of electrocution and fire to users.
Cllr David Dixon, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods (LibDem, Oldfield), said: “We are warning residents that it’s just not worth risking your life to save a few pounds. Poor internal wiring and shoddy engineering of the plug pins in the worst of the chargers means that in certain conditions they pose a risk of electrocution as well as overheating and fire. Safe plugs and chargers are constructed from flame retardant plastics that should not pose a serious risk of fire.”
He added: “Our Trading Standards officers do their best to keep the residents of Bath and North East Somerset safe through market surveillance and use of intelligence. Advice is provided to Bath & North East Somerset importers but our officers cannot be everywhere, and consumers must be vigilant when buying this type of unbranded plug-in charger.
“Our advice is to make sure that when you buy something like a phone charger it is from a reliable and trusted source and that it carries the correct safety markings; it is simply not worth the risk just to save a few pounds.”
Another issue identified by Trading Standards was the lack of traceability of many of the phone chargers tested. Several chargers gave no name and address of the importer for consumers or officials to get back to. These products should all come with printed details of the responsible person in Europe.
“This survey shows that for these products price is not always a definitive guide as to safety, and nor is place of purchase, but replacement smartphone chargers can be high risk, as can products with no name and address,” Cllr Dixon said.
If people have any concerns they should contact Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.