According to consumer group Which?, many Christmas lights being sold online may not meet UK electrical equipment safety regulations, making them not only dangerous, but illegal.
Which? Tested lights from four retailers – eBay, Amazon, Wish and AliExpress. Shockingly, they found 10 of the 12 sets tested failed to meet UK safety regulations. With the price of each set of lights falling below £15, there is worry that the affordability of these could afford to more consumers buying lights with electrical faults or that fall below regulator standards.
All companies have now removed the lights from their websites, suggesting they take safety extremely seriously. Two sets from both eBay and Amazon failed compliance checks. They were either missing key safety markings or failed to come with instructions.
The consumer group is now calling for online marketplaces to take more responsibility. In fact, Which? Is suggesting legal responsibility be taken in order to stop illegal and unsafe products from being sold to consumers.
According to Berkshire Fire and Rescue, approximately 60% of house fires are caused by faulty electrical goods.
Some of the lights tested by Which? were found to have easily exposed wires posing a risk electric shock, as well as being a fire hazard. The same lights, sold by retailer Wish were also advertised as being waterproof, but with no evidence found by Which? to back this, the idea of false and misleading advertising when it comes to electrical safety is an extremely worrying prospect.
Which? Recommend that people buy Christmas lights from the high street or directly from a retailer that they recognise.
How to stay safe
Which? give some great tips for staying safe online:
- Check your lights aren’t damaged when unpacking your decorations.
- Look for things like loose wires, smashed bulbs or a broken control box.
- If your lights need replacement bulbs, make sure you use the same type when you replace them.
- Switch your lights off when you go out and when you go to bed.
- Keep your lights away from anything that can burn easily.
- If your lights look like they’ve seen better days, recycle them and buy a new set from an online or high street retailer you trust.
Sue Davies, head of Consumer Protection Policy, said:
“Cheap Christmas lights could be tempting for many of us trying to save money amid the cost of living crisis – but our latest research shows consumers could be putting themselves in danger due to online marketplaces failing to take safety seriously.
“The government must make online marketplaces legally responsible for dangerous and illegal products sold through their sites so that people are better protected.”