They were on the Christmas wishlist of many children, and even adults, this year but warnings are still being issued by trading standards groups all across the UK about the potential hazards ‘hoverboards’ could be.
More than 17,000 self-balancing scooters – or ‘hoverboards’– have been examined at national entry points since 15 October due to safety concerns*. Of these, over 15,000 (or 88%) have been assessed as unsafe and have been detained at the border. Officers at UK ports and borders witnesses a huge spike in the number of these items arriving on UK shores, destined to end up as gifts under the tree at Christmas.
However, the ‘must-have’ on Christmas lists this year were flagged by Trading Standards as potentially unsafe gifts due to a range of concerns, such as safety issues with the plug, cabling, charger, battery or the cut-off switch within the board, which often fails. Many of the items detained around the country and sent for testing have been found to have noncompliant plugs without fuses, which increases the risk of the device overheating, exploding or catching fire. Products that have been tested have failed with significant safety issues and over 15,000 products detained have identical or very similar features to those already deemed as unsafe.
With such large numbers being sent for testing since October many testing houses are full to capacity and additional staff training is underway to help meet the demand. In recent months these faults have caused extensive damage to people’s property and National Trading Standards – in conjunction with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute – is urging consumers to be vigilant this Christmas and avoid putting households at risk with unsafe products.
Speaking earlier in December, Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said: “Our teams at sea ports, postal hubs and airports have seen a significant spike in the number of unsafe ‘hoverboards’ arriving at national entry points in recent weeks and are working around-the-clock to prevent dangerous items from entering the supply chain. Protecting consumers from harm is our top priority and our Safety at Ports and Borders teams are preventing thousands of these unsafe items from being released onto the market every day.”
“We suspect that most of these products are being imported for onward sale domestically as Christmas approaches – we urge consumers to be on their guard when purchasing these products and advise you read our product safety checklist to help ensure you are not purchasing a dangerous item.”
“If you do suspect any sellers, websites or products of being unsafe we urge you to report them to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”