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Making a Black Friday list? Check it twice

22 November 2016

  • One in six  British consumers admit that they have purchased a fake electrical product for someone as a Christmas gift
  • Majority  of UK consumers have difficulty telling a fake electrical item from a genuine one
  • Electrical Safety First reminds shoppers that fake electrical items are at risk of exploding, risking serious injury or property damage

A new investigation carried out by Electrical Safety First reveals that an estimated nine million UK consumers  have purchased a fake electrical product as a Christmas gift in the past. As this Black Friday’s retail bonanza marks the start of the Christmas shopping season, the Charity is reminding people to ‘spot the fake’ when looking to buy electrical items.

The research proves that it’s not always easy for people to spot a fake. When asked to identify fake and genuine electrical products from images, the majority of UK consumers had difficulty telling them apart. Three quarters of consumers  were unable to identify genuine GHD hair straighteners and three in five  could not spot a fake Apple charger. Over half  of consumers said that they would be likely to buy a product that was described as “genuine,” “real” or “authentic”.

Looking at online shoppers specifically, the research showed that today’s UK consumers are more likely to use online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay than buy directly from retailers’ websites . One in five  of these shoppers admit to spending absolutely no time assessing whether an electrical item is genuine and over half  presume that electrical items for sale online are genuine.

Additionally, some people are knowingly buying fake electrical items. One in six  consumers say they would consider buying a product they suspected was fake if it was cheaper than the original. Ten per cent said that they would buy a suspected fake if under pressure to buy it by a certain date or if it was difficult to find due to high demand.

Reflecting on these findings, Emma Apter, Head of Communications at Electrical Safety First, said:
“Ahead of Black Friday’s shopping frenzy, we’re reminding consumers that among the genuine electrical items on special offer, there are dangerous fake electrical products to look out for. Our research shows that many of us could be more likely to buy a fake if we’re under pressure to buy by a certain date or in a race to get the cheapest deal. In that rush, it’s easy to mistake a fake for a real product. We’re urging people to learn how to ‘spot the fake’ – if you’re not sure our advice is to buy from an official online retailer. When you buy a fake, at best you’re being swindled but at worst you could be putting your life at risk.”

Electrical Safety First examined a random selection of popular electrical accessories such as chargers, power banks and adaptors, purchased through online marketplaces. The investigation revealed that while many items appear to be genuine on the product page and even in appearance; on internal examination, many were substandard and even dangerous. Small fake internal components in electrical items are at risk of exploding, leaving consumers open to serious injury or property damage.

One person who knows how easy it is to be fooled into buying a fake product is Lucy Dibdin. Lucy purchased a Herstyler hair straightener an online marketplace three years ago for a fraction of the advertised price in her local shopping centre. She had no issues with the item until a few weeks ago, when she plugged it in and heard a strange crackling noise.

“It never occurred to me to check if it was genuine, as I presumed everything on Amazon was,” she said. “I picked it up but dropped it immediately when flames erupted from both sides. Luckily didn’t injure myself or get electrocuted but I was left with a tingling in my arm for about 20 minutes. Since this terrifying experience, I make sure I only buy electrical products from trusted retailers. Given what I know now I strongly expect the product was a fake.  I would not buy online again." 
Electrical Safety First is warning all shoppers to be aware of the risks that accompany fake or substandard electrical products. Visit electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/SpotTheFake to learn about how to spot a fake electrical product.

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ACG represents more than 3,000 brands affected by this influx of fakes into the UK and delivers an international network of information, advice and contacts on all aspects of IP protection. Working with Government and law enforcement agencies since 1980, ACG is focused on providing an effective and sustained response to counterfeiting.

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