SHOPPERS thinking of buying this year’s must-have Christmas gift are being urged to be vigilant over safety.
Hoverboards, also known as rideables, self-balancing scooters, Segways or Swegways, retail for around £400 and are particularly appealing to young people, placing the items at the top of many ‘must-have’ lists.
However, South Lanarkshire Council’s Trading Standards Officers are warning that the market is flooded with illegal products that don’t comply with EU safety rules designed to prevent fire, electric shock and explosion risks.
The latest figures from National Trading Standards and Trading Standards Services in Scotland revealed more than 15,000 self-balancing scooters were detained at UK ports and airports.
Major safety risks identified have included issues with the plug, charger, cabling and battery cut-off switch.
Shirley Clelland, South Lanarkshire’s Head of Fleet and Environmental Services, said: “Trading Standards Officers in South Lanarkshire have targeted importers and retailers of hoverboards to make sure only safe products are on sale.
“Seizures of non-compliant products have been made and we are awaiting the results of further safety testing by a local test laboratory.
“In addition, officers are using intelligence sources to identify individuals living in South Lanarkshire who are marketing these products for sale via sites like facebook, eBay and Gumtree.
“Our priority is to ensure a safe and equitable trading environment and to protect consumers from harm.”
Shirley urged consumers who may already own one of these products or are purchasing one for a loved one this Christmas to follow the advice published by National Trading Standards:
Never leave the device charging unattended – especially overnight: a faulty cut-off switch (designed to stop the battery from continuing to charge once fully charged) or a plug without a fuse, as seen in many products detained so far, could lead to the device overheating, exploding or catching fire.
Check the device: things to look out for include the shape of the plug – the first unsafe products identified often had a clover-shaped plug. Also check the device for markings or traceable information, such as the name and contact details of the manufacturer and / or importer.
If buying online, look closely at the website before you hit the ‘buy’ button. Try searching for reviews of the product or the seller – do these seem genuine? Are there lots of spelling or grammar mistakes on the site? See if you can find out where the company’s head office is based – and whether they have a landline number you can call if there are any problems?
Don’t be dazzled by a bargain: Are the prices incredibly low? If they look too good to be true, they probably are – particularly if some of your other checks have put doubts in your mind.
And the Standards authority added: Be aware that criminals exploit high demand: When items like self-balancing scooters start to sell out at well-known retailers, the void is quickly filled by crooks churning out poor quality imitations that can put people in danger.
If you believe that any online or face-to-face seller is selling potentially dangerous goods, or something you’ve bought has made you suspicious, or you have concerns about the safety of goods you have bought or have seen for sale, you should contact South Lanarkshire Council’s Trading Standards Team through the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06, the council’s Customer Services Centre on 0303 123 1015 or firstname.lastname@example.org.