Smart plugs available on Amazon labelled ‘fire risk’ by consumer watchdogs

A smart plug that was available on Amazon has been found to be a fire hazard, according to a new investigation by consumer watchdog Which?.

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The Hickton smart plug has since been removed for sale from the online retailer. 

The plug featured dual USB ports, meaning consumers could use it to charge their mobile devices while simultaneously using the plug socket to power something else, but the investigation found that its live connection was too close to an energy-monitoring chip, which rendered it a fire hazard, given that this could cause an electrical discharge between two electrodes.

While the product was labelled “CE”, which would normally indicate that it had passed European safety standards, Which? said this could be misleading given that some Chinese companies use a similar label to mean “China export”.

Amazon confirmed that the product is no longer available on its website and has told customers who are concerned about their smart plugs to get in touch with its customer services team.

Meanwhile, Kate Bevan at Which? has said that products such as these are appearing on retailer’s websites far too frequently.

“Too often we’ve seen dangerous products being sold on online marketplaces from unknown brands – in many cases originating from China’s electronics capital, Shenzhen – that appear to have little accountability and are virtually impossible to contact,” she told the BBC.

“This raises big concerns around safety checks and monitoring carried out by online marketplaces like Amazon.”

Bevan added that consumers currently face a gamble regarding the safety of products purchased from online marketplaces such as to whether or not they meet safety standards.

“That’s why it’s vitally important that the government gives online marketplaces more legal responsibility for preventing unsafe products from being sold on their sites.”

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