/ Home & Energy, Shopping

Two-pin plugs – it’s just not British

Two-pin plug

Have you ever been sent a household appliance with a two-pin plug – the type you’d find on mainland Europe? We’ve heard from a number of people who have – little do they know that this is against the law.

It’s actually illegal for UK retailers to sell most domestic electrical products (not for example shavers, electric toothbrushes or items with rcd plugs) with two-pin plugs under the Plugs and Sockets Safety Regulations 1994. Most domestic appliances must be fitted with an approved three-pin British plug or an approved conversion plug.

Plugs – when two-pins aren’t enough

We wanted to dig deeper to see how widespread this problem was. So we surveyed 1,321 Which? members and found that one in 20 had bought a product online that came with an incorrect plug. A third of those were Amazon (including its Marketplace) customers.

We asked Amazon about this and it pointed us to its returns policy. And although this is fairly generous (30 days for any items sold by, or fulfilled by, Amazon), the policy doesn’t address the fact that sending these items in the first place is in breach of two sets of regulations. These are the Plugs regulations mentioned before and the Sale of Goods Act. If you receive an item with a two-pin plug, you can reject it as unfit for purpose under the Sale of Goods Act. We’ll be taking this up with Amazon to find out what it’s planning to do to prevent this.

In the meantime, is this something that’s ever happened to you? What sort of appliance did you get with a two-pin plug, and did you have any luck getting it changed for a model with a three-pin British plug?

[UPDATE APRIL 2014] – due to the volume of comments made here we got in touch with Amazon to ask about the problem of products with two-pin plugs being sold on its website:

“At Amazon, we are committed to providing our customers with the best possible shopping experience. All sellers on Amazon Marketplace must adhere to our selling guidelines. Any seller found to contravene those guidelines will be subject to action from Amazon including removal of product listings and their account. The Amazon A-to-z Guarantee provides additional protection for customers who buy from Amazon.co.uk’s third party Marketplace and if a customer received the item, but the item was defective, damaged, or not the item depicted in the seller’s description, we will refund or replace that item. For more information on our A-to-Z Guarantee please visit our website.”

Comments

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I absolutely agree that the business world must be curtailed where activities are damaging the safety or other interests of the public. The best way to get the public on board would be to focus on issues that the public can relate to and understand. I don’t see that focusing on the type of plugs on electrical goods will have much impact, though this is an issue I feel very strongly about on grounds of safety.

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We have the correct safety regulations to regulate what should be sold, but not the public organisation to police it properly – a job for government and. hopefully, New Trading Standards. It does seem that consumers are neglected. Has Which? any ability to lobby?

We never get any response on the legality of the Amazon involvement in selling unsafe products, nor a remedy. Starting somewhere would perhaps spread a message.

Will we ever get a response from Which? on this and whether it can be tackled.

Which? has no obligation to pursue any particular problem, however important it seems to some of us. We don’t know which issues are being pursued behind the scenes or are dormant. Recently we learned that Which? is still looking at the problem of high charges for overstaying in car parks, etc. Without being told, we could reasonably assumed that this is a dormant issue.

We can keep on posting on this Conversation but I’m not sure where else we might get help. Watchdog maybe, but it would be a help to have examples of electric shock and fires that can be attributed to use of equipment with the wrong sort of plug.

Trading Standards has a duty to investigate complaints by the public, though they certainly do not pursue all cases. I hope that James will contact TS and report back.

It might not have an obligation, but it sees consumer problems that cause excessive concerns. Keeping Members informed of what they are doing would be useful, and productive in instigating responses and personal experiences perhaps.

I and others have suggested Which? look at punitive/profiteering parking penalties on a number of occasions but I was not aware they were actively doing this.

I suspect that Which? focuses mainly on issues of considerable public concern, which is why we have had campaigns about energy prices, nuisance calls and banks.

We don’t know how many people have had a fire or an electric shock because of the way they have used products supplied with the wrong sort of plug. Try asking friends and family and I think you will find few that can explain the dangers. The main problem that most see is the convenience issue and that’s what Which? has tackled, seeking assurance that Amazon will take back goods supplied with a non-compliant plug.

I would love to be kept informed about how Which? sets its priorities.

Two pin plugs are safe to use in countries with a 110 volt supply system but are very dangerous when used on our 230 volt system 230 volts kill very easily 110 volts is safer and must be used in various places building sites for one by law that’s why many things must be earthed by a third pin and wire in this country

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I believe the requirement for areas such as building sites, where a 110v supply is provided, is to use a centre tap earth so effectively the appliance is fed at 55v from earth potential. 110v is safer but not safe.

That’s the case but the transformers used to step down the voltage are also isolation transformers, which isolate the power tools from direct connection to the mains.

They are.

I have a one of these 110V ‘site transformers’ and also a mains voltage isolation transformer that I used when repairing equipment.

We are returning to the UK after living abroad. Many of our electrical items have two-pin or are round three-pin plugs. What do you recommend? We don’t really want to sell everything here and buy new, but it seems like that’s what we may end up doing!

If you have 230v 50Hz appliances (European for example) then fit UK 3 pin plugs, or have an electrician do it if you are not able. You could have them tested for electrical safety (PAT) at the same time for little extra cost.

Glyn says:
3 January 2018

It’s not only on line this is happening I was given a beard trimmer for Christmas bought from Boots now I suppose this could be classed as a razor but it had to be charged for 16 hours and I would not like to charge it up in the bathroom for that length of time surly this can’t be leagal

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Two pin plugs are not safe to use unless they have a double pole switch in the appliance has they can be connected the wrong way round (impossible with a 3 pin one unless wired wrongly ) and the thing you have could still be live when you switch it off it will no longer work but the electricity wil still be on and if touched inside could kill you or give you a nasty shock They are only safe when used with a safe voltage not 230 v we use in this country Even in Europe they can be dangerous to use when a 3 pin plug is used with a 2 pin adaptor

So, I traded in my reward points off my credit card into amazon gift cards as they had the appliance for sale on their site that I was looking for…I bought a Jura E8 coffee machine off Amazon last month and found that it had a 2 pin plug! It had been sent with a kettle type lead that was attached to a 3 pin plug in the box?? On closer inspection I would have had to take the appliance apart to try and see if it could be connected!!! I sent it back, but they say that I could have bought an adapter to use the machine so will not refund me in cash to buy the same machine from another supplier!! So now I’m stuck with £850 Amazon gift cards that I can’t use anywhere else!!
I also emailed a seller advertising on the Amazon site and he couldn’t confirm that I would get a machine with a 3 pin plug as it depends what their supplier sends out???
Any advice on where to go from here??

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Amazon would not have been entitled to offer a gift card as a refund for a faulty item if you had paid by credit or debit card. On the basis that gift cards can not normally be exchanged for cash, I expect they are in their rights to refund you in the same way that you paid.

If you bought the coffee machine from Amazon UK it should comply with the The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1994/1768/contents/made. It looks as if no-one is taking any action against Amazon or other companies that ignore this legislation.

They in fact offers to source me an adapter to purchase!!
So as they couldn’t provide me the product as advertised I’m now stuck with the vouchers and can’t find anywhere else that accepts the vouchers that has the same product!!

The only way that companies are allowed to supply goods with the wrong plug is if a ‘converter plug’ is already fitted. Putting an adaptor in the box or selling one separately does not comply with the regulations.

I understand your frustration and wish that Which? would push Trading Standards to put an end to Amazon and others selling products with the wrong plug.

Brian, it is illegal to supply a two pin plug on an item for use in the UK (unless it is for an item like a rechargeable tooth brush or electric shaver for example), so if you bought it direct from Amazon they should provide it with a suitable adaptor that can only be removed with the use of a tool. If you bought it through amazon but from one of their “Marketplace traders” then the situation seems (to amazon at least) to be rather more cloudy as they do not appear to take responsibility for what they sell in that way.

@patrick It really is time, I think, Which? got to grips with this malpractice. We have seen many examples given in Convos over a number of years. Or maybe Which? Legal should be asked to make a contribution to this Convo?

Which? have just sent me their latest newsletter. This includes the campaign

“Demand action on dangerous products
Dangerous products in Britain’s homes are putting millions of people at risk. Enough is enough. The UK’s product safety regime needs urgent reform to protect our families and friends. Sign our petition and take a stand against unsafe products.”

Well, here’s an issue they could take on board themselves without a petition.

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Duncan: please supply the precise URL for the page on which you claim to have viewed Amazon.com’s Ts and Cs.

I will also add that Amazon.co.uk does cover market place transactions under its ‘A to Z guarantee’, which offers which offers – IME – fairly comprehensive coverage for transactions. Legally, they disavow responsibility for purchases which, in a sense, I can understand. However, the only time I had a real problem with a market place trader I not only received a compete refund through Amazon’s insistence but also got to keep the original item.

I would also point out that the UK is one of the larger markets for Amazon, in fact third in the world , and Amazon complies fully with the laws of the countries in which it trades directly. So as usual, Duncan – facts.

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I’m only after the facts, Duncan. May I have the URL, please?

I should add that I’m only concerned to see I haven’t made a mistake.

You cannot avoid your legal responsibilities in your terms and conditions and, it seems to me, it is how the law in the UK applies that matters, not Ts & Cs. That’s why I’d like to see a view on the legality of amazon selling illegal plugs on products, both directly and through their market trader scheme (that they provide a sales platform for, that I believe they stock so can verify legality, that they deliver, and that they take your money for as an intermediary with their commission).

Hi Brian, thanks for your comment – and thanks to the other community members for replying. It would be helpful to have a link and the details of your correspondence for us to take a look at this. Are you able to send these through to us at conversation.comments@which.co.uk

We wouldn’t recommend an adaptor for this product. On your ability to exchange the gift cards for cash, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do this but you could try lodging a complaint with Amazon directly.

We’ve raised the issue before with Amazon and the retailer confirmed that the Amazon A-to-z Guarantee provides additional protection for customers who buy from Amazon.co.uk’s third party Marketplace and if a customer received the item, but the item was defective, damaged, or not the item depicted in the seller’s description, Amazon will refund or replace that item.

Please do share more info with us on the item you were sold. Thanks

The point is that Amazon exposes for sale electrical products that do not comply with UK law. A market place is a form of exposing goods for sale. Amazon has complete control over what goods are offered though its Marketplace. It is illegal to expose non-compliant electrical goods for sale in the UK. Wavechange has quoted the applicable Regulations.

I do not know why we are shilly-shallying on this. Why does Which? not just start legal proceedings [or force Trading Standards to do so]?

Getting protection for customers – in the form of a refund or a free adaptor – will not stop the sale of illegal products by or via Amazon.

John – I feel more strongly about this issue than any of the other problems we regularly complain about.

I had hoped that it might be possible to take this to National Trading Standards because it is not just a local issue, but I discovered that NTS provides support for companies rather than the public.

We could approach Watchdog, but it’s not obvious to the public why the legislation does not allow supply of products with a two-pin plug that can be used with an adaptor.

As it is an issue that is to the detriment of consumers it should be taken up by an organisation that is paid by consumers to represent them. That is surely what the Consumers’ Association – Which? – purports to be. So why does it not attack this problem?

Local Trading Standards is the body to also deal with, particularly when products are illegally sold. As the public can often not deal with them maybe Which? has access.

But something needs to be sorted! If they are putting products onto the market that contravene our regulations and are illegal it should be stopped.

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I’ve never had any problem with contacting Trading Standards via Citizens Advice but not once has there been any indication that TS has taken any action. Once when I had a very strong case of being cheated by a small local company, TS said they would act only if there were other complaints. I have never bought any products with a non-compliant plug.

I accept that what is happening in other countries is affecting the UK, Duncan, but I don’t think that should stop us pushing for action.

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I don’t think we need to complicate this by reference to international trade negotiations that are not yet part of any treaty, which could not in any case have supremacy over UK law. What was that great judge Lord Denning’s famous dictum? – “Be ye ever so high, the law is above you”.

Which? has the power to take action against Amazon through the courts, as any citizen does. No international machinations can stop that if UK law is being broken. To start with, a declaratory judgment is required to determine the legal parameters of the Amazon Marketplace. If Amazon is somehow immune from action [which I doubt] then the individual sellers are surely not and they can be prosecuted.

Hi, yes I certainly will!
I will have time tomorrow to do so, I will include emails from Amazon and from the third party sellers on there too!
I have tried to lodge a complaint with them but they just fob me off….

Be persistent Brian and encourage other to do the same. Usually persistence pays off.

Hi, yes I certainly will!
I have emailed you and included emails from Amazon and from the third party sellers on there too!
I have tried to lodge a complaint with them but they just fob me off….

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duncan, I don’t understand what you suggest when you say “Amazon are NOT prepared to supply the UK with UK legislated THREE pin plugs conforming to UK electrical specifications”. All electrical appliance retailers in the UK supply the appropriate plugs, almost always fitted by the manufacturer. Amazon is no different when they act as the retailer, otherwise they are breaking the law.

They can of course fit an adaptor that can only be removed by a tool.

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We’re all saying “why do amazon get away with supplying 2 pin plugs”, duncan, as far as I know (except, perhaps Which?)

Duncan: the US case has no bearing on UK law, and I simply can’t understand what you’re saying when you say the “British public (are) being forced to accept inferior quality electrical goods”. Of course they’re not. Where is your evidence to prove:
1. that anyone is ‘forced’ to accept anything?
2. that UK consumers are uniquely disadvantaged by Amazon?

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Amazon thinks it is so big that it can do anything it likes without question including breaking the law Which and government are frightened of doing anything which could upset Amazon some companies have just grown too big and think they are rulers of the world in their fi eld of work No one wants to do anything about them scared to do in fact

Amazon sells lot of electrical products that are compliant, and I do not believe it has an official policy of selling non-compliant products. What is does have, however, is a facility for other companies to showcase their products on its website, process orders for them, provide a payment system, and organise delivery in some cases. In doing so it seeks to deny its responsibility for those companies’ goods and pretend that is only an intermediate platform, not a merchant. This is what has to be challenged.

If a company advertises goods in a newspaper the publisher accepts responsibility for the goods conforming with the law and is jointly liable. I see no difference between that and Amazon’s position. We can stand up to Amazon and must do so. Making excuses based on theories of global dominance is not helping. So long as it operates in the UK, has substantial trading infrastructure in the UK, and addresses UK markets, it is subject to UK law and under an obligation to comply with it irrespective of any extraneous considerations. It really is as simple as that.

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I am not concerned with how big or powerful this company might be in global terms, Duncan, their operations in the UK are subject to UK law. If the citizen can take the UK government to court and win it can take a trader to court. Discussing the scale of the company distracts from the real issue and is irrelevant in my opinion. The less we worry about peripheral issues the more we can concentrate on dealing with any law-breaking which disadvantages other firms whose goods comply with the law. I don’t understand why you cannot support this approach.

I prefer to focus on how we can deal with Amazon rather than speculating on why we can’t.

Last year I posted links to dangerous counterfeit products being sold on Amazon and eBay. I think it was Lauren who managed to have one of them removed for sale. Here is one of my posts and the product is still on sale on eBay: https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/plugs-two-pin-british-amazon-electrical-appliances/#comment-1488417 Note the partially-sleeved Earth-pin, which will mean that connected equipment could cause electrocution in event of a fault.

Amazon provides information about these counterfeit products: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201976150

It’s a pity that they do not have a system in place to ensure that visibly illegal products are not put on sale.

I have reported this to Amazon and will keep an eye on whether the product is removed and post any response.

I reported my concern about the dangerous counterfeit plug and pointed out that Amazon has a warning about these plugs on its website. I also mentioned that other examples can be found on the website. Here is the prompt reply I received:

“Hello,

Thanks for getting in touch with us about this. We value all feedback from our customers and your correspondence has been forwarded to the correct team internally.

We hope to see you again soon.
Did I solve your problem?
Yes No

Warmest regards,
xxxxxxxxxxx”

The product is still on sale but on past performance I suspect it will be removed, but that will do nothing about similar dangerous products.

I suspect that as an individual I am unable to do anything to tackle the problem that some goods on the Amazon website are dangerous, even if this is a small proportion.

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I find that companies often thank me in this way and offer some financial incentive such as a discount or a voucher. I don’t want their money. I want action.

@patrick can Which? Legal give a view on this problem, or had Which? already sought legal advice? Many of us would like to know whether amazon has legal responsibilities for what it allows to be placed on the market by its traders, particularly since it plays such a large part in facilitating their trading and profits from it.

Well, just an update on my progress with Amazon…
After much badgering and threatening to go to trading standards etc They have sourced me the exact machine I was after and with a 3pin plug!!!
They even rang the dispatcher to check before shipping it to me!!
Thank you all for your help and valuable advice on this matter. I think I would have given up if it wasn’t for the information and advice I received here…
Thank you!

Thanks for reporting back Brian. 🙂

Andrew Hancock says:
6 June 2018

Just taken delivery of a router from Amazon, sold by Amazon, not anyone from the Marketplace, and guess what the product is marked EU, and it came with a 2 pin European plug! (June 2018!).

So Amazon are still doing it, and don’t really care…

I ordered similar equipment, from the same vendor from Scan, and although Scan also supplied a EU version, they did include a UK Plug separate with the item.

So I’ll be calling Amazon tomorrow, and asking for a UK plug, and they’ll probably just tell me to return for a refund!

Perhaps you could send Amazon a link to this document, Andrew: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1994/1768/made

Companies have the alternative of supplying goods with a normal 3-pin UK plug or fitting a ‘converter plug’ which encases the 2-pin plug and cannot be removed without use of a tool. Supplying a loose plug or converter plug is not permitted.

Thanks for confirming that Amazon are ignoring the legislation and not just their Marketplace traders.

@awhittle Hi Alex – Please could Which? take this up with Amazon again.

Andrew Hancock says:
7 June 2018

this link will be very handy! Thanks.

It’s now five and a half years since we were told about these regulations in this Convo: https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/plugs-two-pin-british-amazon-electrical-appliances/#comment-815473 A link has been added to the introduction.

We are no further forward. 🙁

Your post is important because it demonstrates that it is not just Marketplace traders that are ignoring the law.

Hi Wavechange, I have spoken to our consumer rights team and they are investigating this issue. Thanks

Thanks very much Alex. I do appreciate that this issue has been investigated before and Patrick Steen has reported back, but we seem to be no further forward.

It is time that Amazon were prosecuted for breaking plug legislation. Trading Standards are the body who should be enfocong consumer law. Have Which? gathered information on any of the failures reported in Convos and given the evidence to TS and then followed up to see what action is taken? Or are Amazon too big for them to deal with? Like Whirlpool….Currys….VW…..Samsung……and those other big companies who have caused customers problems but never had effective action taken against rhem.

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Whilst I agree that “Trading Standards are the body who should be enforcing consumer law”, I also think that Amazon are only getting away with this because most consumers are too lazy to return goods with 2-pin plugs.

Hence, shouldn’t we also prosecute ourselves, for “aiding and abetting”?

Andrew Hancock says:
7 June 2018

The issue is, that Amazon just asks people to return for refund, problem solved, but Customer then out of pocket, because no goods. I’ll let you know how I get on this morning with Amazon!

Andrew Hancock says:
7 June 2018

I did try and leave a review about this on Amazon, but guess what Amazon would not publish it. Talk about Censorship, and would not publish any of the reviews I tried to post.

One of the contributors to this Convo had his reviews blocked. I’ve seen ones alerting people to safety issues that have got through. I look forward to hearing what they have to say.

It’s not that Amazon are too big to be prosecuted, it’s that our enforcement agencies are so weak that they cannot do it. As Lord Denning, forthright Master of the Rolls, famously observed “Be ye ever so high, the law is above you”. Does Which? not have power to prosecute, or at least prepare the case? The evidence is abundant.

I don’t know, John. Members of the Which? Legal team are conspicuous by their lack of participation in our Conversations. I suspect that most people see the sale of goods with the wrong plug as an annoying inconvenience but the solutions that people adopt when faced with the problem can be serious. I have seen two-pin plugs inserted directly into mains sockets.

Which? could consult their legal tesm (assuming they subscribe 🙁 ) to give an opinion and report it back to us. I’ve asked for this several times without a real answer. But then Which? do not seem willing to consult any experts to help these Convos. I treat participation in them now as a pastime with no real expectation of them being taken seriously. I hope that might change – if ever Which? get round to engaging with their Members and seeing them as a useful resource. Convos contain a wealth of useful information from many diligent and knowledgeable contributos. A good basis for a Which? Annual at Christmas 🙂

Which? could help Andrew Hancock and others take legal action against Amazon over failure to comply with the law and then publicise what it has achieved in the press and TV. Prompt action in the case of Whirlpool dryers might have meant that some possible might not have lost their homes in fires caused by unsafe dryers.

I would like to see some Which? press releases that demonstrate real progress – achievements that will go down in history.

Andrew Hancock says:
7 June 2018

Well I thought as much Amazon cannot send out a 3 pin plug :- “We cannot send part or accessories of any items as we will not have inventories of them.”

They would however collect the item by Hermes.

But a replacement would not ship until Estimated Delivery Date: Tuesday, 26 June 2018 – Thursday, 5 July 2018.

So that’s the deal….

So I may contact that again, when they are back in stock.

There are other companies that supply routers. 🙂

Andrew Hancock says:
7 June 2018

Ah, but not as cheap as this was listed at Amazon!

Seems to be resolved, that was a conversation I’ve had with Online Chat, and since I’ve had email from Amazon Customer Services just arrive.

They will send out a replacement model with correct 3 pin PLUG, at no charge to me, between Tuesday 26th and 5th July 2018.

and have provided a returns label to return this unit, 30 days from today.

That’s up to you but I have more or less boycotted Amazon and would certainly not buy electrical goods from them. In one of the Convos I posted links to dangerous counterfeit products on sale on Amazon. Here is an example that I reported in this Conversation more than two years ago: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Metre-Kettle-Mains-Power-Cable/dp/B01GG2P64U/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_pl_foot_top?ie=UTF8 The Earth pin of the plug is partially-sleeved and because of the design of a mains socket there would be no Earth connection. In event of a fault this could cause electrocution.

I have reported this dangerous product to Amazon and they have done nothing to remove it for sale.

Andrew Hancock says:
7 June 2018

I do find double standards appearing on Amazon, I know of a business which has been banned for life trading on Amazon, because they despatched a product 2 days late? Customer complained and they’ve been banned for life. Yet Amazon are allowed to break the law, sending out 2 pin plugs, and sellers selling counterfeit items, and are still continue to trade!

So being a couple of days late is more important than public safety. Incredible.

The plug problem is not just with Amazon and not just with the small Europlug that came with your router. It’s possible to buy goods with Schuko plugs, which have two pins and Earth contacts at the side. Users may not realise the importance of the Earth connection and plug the product into an adaptor designed for two-pin plugs. It will work but in event of a fault they could be electrocuted. Again, pre-fitted ‘converter plugs’ are allowed although the ones for Schuko plugs are inconveniently large.

One reason that converter plugs must be fitted by the manufacturer or retailer is that they cannot be lost or removed without a tool.

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Duncan wrote: “I do agree that this should be a “cause celebre ” without a shadow of doubt which Wavechange “seems to agree with” ?” I think you will find that I was the first to mention that this was an issue for Trading Standards and I’ve certainly gone into detail about why supplying the wrong type of plug can be dangerous for several reasons, depending on how the user deals with the problem.

Several of us have repeatedly pushed Which? for action to restore Trading Standards to provide support for consumers with problems and I have taken electrical safety issues to my local TS office, though I am not aware they took any action.

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Not by me I hope. I’m hoping we can all pull together and achieve some action here.

What still bothers me is that Which? seem to do little that is effective or decisive when many problems persist or recur – Whirlpool went on for 2 years and still running, Currys charging extra for laptoos, Sony breaking phone screens, and as wavechange has reminded us above, Amazon 2 pin plugs reported in a Convo beginning 5 years ago. This hardly makes consumers as powerful as the organisations they deal with, does it?

As we all should know Amazon and Which? Ltd, have a commercial relationship. I am beginning to wonder if Which? is permitted under the terms of its agreement with Amazon* to take any action against its paymaster or is it more likely it does not wish to be ejected from the scheme.
sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/200336920?language=en_US&ref=efph_200336920_cont_G19281

As can be seen the amount Amazon takes from sellers can be considerable and its referral partners like Which? who direct traffic to Amazon can get a share of the take.

We have never been told the worth of this income from Amazon [also from pricerunner] say compared to the subscriptions paid by members. And for that matter whether subscribers are comfortable with the idea that a charity claiming independence from commercial and governmental influences actually has its subsidiary that takes money from multiple different companies. Which? Ltd and Which? Financial Services Ltd between them must take a minimum of £5m a year and possibly double that from companies, solicitors, and mortgage lenders.

Arguably if we stray away from the original subscription only model the next best thing is to ringfence this money and donate it to say Citizens Advice or another charity – perhaps chosen by members every three years. That way this charity can be seen to not to have a vested interest in the areas it is meant to be active in monitoring.

Whatever is done though we deserve some transparency.

Hi all. I just want to let you know that I’m reading and catching up with your comments here. I see Lauren advised in June 2017 that we were keen to contact Amazon on this. I’m doing my best right now to find out what progress was made and whether any discussions took place internally on potential action. I know this has been ongoing for a long time so completely understand the frustration.

Thanks George. I’m very glad that Which? is actively involved with product safety but this is one issue which has been ongoing for years without apparent progress. It’s not just Amazon that sells products with the wrong plug but they seem to be the main offender.

Agreed. And also apologies again for the lack of progress. I know how frustrating it can be when we have to go away and get answers from inside the organisation on a range of different issues. I’ve emailed the teams involved and am waiting on a response now.

Andrew Hancock says:
9 June 2018

It would appear that after my conversation, Customer Services kicked in, and then emailed me and told me a replacement was being expedited immediately, and would arrive on June 11th, and to return the old unit, with the 2 pin plug, with the address label they have supplied.

In fact, the replacement arrived today…..

and guess what, it’s the same as the first one, with a 2 pin European plug, and also marked EU on the box!

BOX SHIFTERS which cannot read either!

Looks like another conversation with them!

Andrew Hancock says:
9 June 2018

You would think logic would kick in, and Amazon we check my Order record and see, I have most items delivered to Lockers at work, and would arrange to return via their lockers.

Instead they said me a Pass My Parcel label, when their are none in the area where I live…..

it gets worse….

Then again my expectations are clearly too high to expect common sense!

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Thanks for letting us know, Andrew. They are digging their hole deeper. 🙂

For two pins I’d abandon them and get your router elsewhere, having wasted effort reporting them to Trading Standards.

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We had some fun with adaptors a few years ago: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/counterfeit-electricals-plugs-travel-adaptors-amazon-marketplace-ebay/ As part of an investigation by Socketman I ordered a UK to Schuko adaptor from an Amazon Marketplace trader and was sent a shaver adaptor. What was offered on the website. The useless response I received from Amazon is on one of my posts. Amazon asked the trader to refund my postage but they never did.

Many people would not appreciate the need for an earth.

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As someone who’d never dream of going to Amazon for anything I could just go down the road and buy from a real person in a real shop, what shocks me is the number of folk who think they’ll do better via the internet than via real life.

Perhaps I was fortunate that was on my earliest school friends was the son of a Director of a then famous and widely used mail order company. They had a very nice house and clearly didn’t want for money. Even at the tender age of 13 I could figure out how they made their money and who had really paid for their luxurious home.

Online traders have the advantage of lower overheads than high street shops – premises, staff costs, business rates, reduced stock, for example. Presumably this means they can maintain a profit margin on a lower selling price. A similar situation to the supermarkets over the corner shop. I’ve bought a lot of stuff online, including from Amazon, with no problems and saved considerable money.

I always thought, pre internet, that the original Argos model, brought from the USA, was a good one at the time – a small customer area in front of a large warehouse out of town to keep cost low. Do I need a glitzy department store in an expensive part of town to buy a fridge from? Present trends suggest this is a failing model.

Is there an in-between solution? Small outlets linked to central warehouses where we could do a face-to-face transaction and await delivery? Are business rates the killer of local shops, and how would their income be replaced? From home occupiers, who would not like it.

I guess their will be some types of product that will always need a significant presence in the form of stocked and staffed outlets – furniture, clothing, food for example. but times are changing.

As far as “luxurious homes” are concerned, James Dyson has done rather well out of overpriced vacuum cleaners without the need for a mail order company. 🙂 Perhaps we should go back to a true “co-operative” model where profits are distributed to members (the “divi”) according to their spending.

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I never liked the Argos model because there was no opportunity to inspect most household goods before purchase, but at least it is much easier to exchange faulty goods than deal with an online retailer, providing there is a branch of Argos nearby.

This year we have had the failure of Maplin and Toys R Us and closure of their high street stores. House of Fraser has announced that many of their stores are to close in an attempt to enable the company to survive. Marks & Spencer is closing some stores and the directors won’t get their bonuses. Mothercare is to close branches. Carpetright, Homebase and even Poundworld are closing stores.

I’ve never been sold an electrical product with the wrong plug, possibly helped by shopping in physical shops where possible. If I did have a problem I would give the store manager a copy of the Plugs and Sockets regulations and deliver a lecture about the various ways in which this could result in a hazard depending on how the user chose to deal with the problem.

Andrew Hancock says:
10 June 2018

I’ve now posted an email to the Manufacturer/Vendor, because it may seem that they may only supply a European version with 2 pin plug only. Which means Amazon needs to stop selling this, or supply with a 3 pin plug. Which they state they do not have in their inventory!

and it’s a bit odd, because other Resellers, sell the same router, but then supply the 3 pin UK plug as an optional extra! (not included) so are they are also “breaking the law” ?

Andrew

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Selling a product in the UK with an incorrect plug is illegal. The manufacturer is not at fault if it is retailed by a vendor. Amazon are breaking the law by selling this. Or so it seems to me.

This guidance may have been revised https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/294047/07-615-product-standards-electrical-equipment-plugs-sockets-guidance-notes.pdf
On p!! it says:
ENFORCEMENT
The Regulations are enforced by the local authority trading standards authorities.
Where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that electrical equipment may
not meet the requirements of the Regulations, an enforcement authority should take
appropriate enforcement action to remove the equipment from the market. Any
enforcement action taken will be based on the facts of the case and will not be
jeopardised by the origin of the equipment.

Compliance Notice: Where for reasons other than safety, an enforcement
authority has reasonable grounds for suspecting that the device or electrical
appliance does not, for whatever reason, comply fully with the requirements of the
Regulations the authority may issue a compliance notice requiring the equipment to
be brought into conformity. Compliance notices are intended to give the person an
opportunity to take action to correct the non-compliance. Enforcement action can
only be taken in respect of the alleged non-compliance if such a notice has been
issued and not acted upon within the time limit specified in the notice. Where the
non-compliance is safety related, enforcement authorities can take immediate
enforcement action to safeguard consumers.

Penalties: It is an offence to supply devices or electrical equipment which do not
comply with the requirements of the Regulations. The Consumer Protection Act
1987, lays down penalties for an offence against a Safety Regulation as made under
Section 11 as imprisonment for up to six months or a fine not exceeding level five on
the standard scale (currently £5,000) or both.”

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duncan, yes, I have been part of that process over the years, and frustrated by the lack of enfoircement, and Which?’s silence. You can have all the regulations you want but unless you have the means to enforce them unscrupulous vendors will get away with it.

BEIS are responsible, under the EU, for seeing that regulations are properly observed, and they delegate this to local trading standards – bodies generally without adequate teeth and resources (see Whirlpool). I believe we need a strong national (trading standards) body to handle national issues, not a lot of weak ones spread around local/county authorities who happen to have the offender in their area. I wish there were some sign that this might happen. Which? have never responded to the people who have asked for them to campaign for this. It is, to my mind, much more important than many of the other non-safety issues they spend their time and resources campaigning for. .

It would be interesting – but probably impossible – to know how many of the people who have reported cases of illegal product selling have gone on to report it to their local trading standards authority and what happened next. We have quite a good and effective trading standards organisation in Norfolk but they are hampered by the requirement to refer cases to the ‘home authority’ for the company concerned. This is especially relevant where the retailer has no physical retail presence. This was the nub of the Whirlpool problem where the home authority was arguably delinquent. I have no idea where the ‘home authority’ is that should be taking up all complaints about Amazon but I bet it’s not a major city authority with the resources and legal back-up to pursue a case. Unfortunately it appears that there can be a conflict of interest as the designated authority might be so overawed at having the headquarters of a big company within its boundaries, with all the civic posturing that implies, that it becomes servile to the company and overlooks its responsibilities to the public especially if the complainants are not their own taxpayers.

I agree with Malcolm that a powerful national organisation is required that can stand up to international companies without fear or favour. The existing national trading standards organisation is just a flimsy facade for a self-serving unresponsive bureaucracy that has very little to show for itself in terms of consumer satisfaction over the issues that matter. That Which? compounds this with its own abdication of consumer representation is deplorable.

Where there is a national rather than local problem, such as retailers supplying goods with the wrong plug, it would make sense for members of the public to contact a single body that could coordinate support for the public.

Some of us had assumed that this was a role of National Trading Standards but this is not the case. NTS is a private company that supports companies and does not provide help for consumers. That’s what I learned from NTS when I contacted them by email.

Companies can make arrangements with a local Trading Standards to act as a Primary Authority, as Whirlpool did with Peterborough TS. I have not been able to establish is there is a primary authority for Currys since this information is not made available to the public. A member of the public would have to contact their local TS office and would not get support from the one acting as a primary authority.

I hope this makes sense to our consumer minister because it makes little sense to me.

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Currys have a contact address in Sheffield and some while ago I asked Sheffield TS who was responsible for them. They quickly responded:
Currys/PC World are trading names for DSG Retail Limited and its Primary Authority for Trading Standards is Hertfordshire County Council, Trading Standards, County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford, Hertfordshire, SG13 8DQ – 0300 123 4040.”

Another entry for WikiWhich? ?

Thanks Malcolm but I think it would make more sense for the register being publicly accessible via the appropriate .gov page where it would always be up to date: https://primary-authority.beis.gov.uk/about

Duncan – I don’t know much about the US but in this country we are going to have to fight against the increasing marginalisation of consumers in a country that is increasingly run for the benefit of business.

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Andrew Hancock says:
10 June 2018

However, SCAN which do sell some of this manufacturers products, do include a FREE 3 pin plug!!!!

On the Amazon listing there is no mention it comes with a 2 pin plug, or is the European model, and it’s odd that no-one has made a comment in the review. BUT I’ve noticed products on Amazon, there’s a single review based on where it was purchased from, and these vary…. so reviewers are reviewing different sellers and their products sold.

Although I tried to leave a review, warning potential buyers, and it was not published! Seems a bit of censorship here…

Andrew Hancock says:
11 June 2018

Okay, response from the Manufacturer…

“They do not offer the option to ship from the factory with a UK lead so it is up to the partner you buy from in the UK to provide this option.

I would contact the company you purchased from and request their assistance, it is just a standard C5 clover lead.”

It would also appear that the majority of resellers (not Amazon), do include a 3 pin plug, some advise this, some don’t and it’s an optional extra!

and since contacting the manufacturer, which sent on my question to ALL Resellers in Europe, my Inbox is flooded with, we have that in stock, buy from us, or become a Reseller/Distributor!

I returned the replacement to Amazon this morning!

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Andrew Hancock says:
11 June 2018

Amazon have just suggested to return and they’ll refund the item!

I’ve pushed back with Cancel the Refund, and give me a Gift Voucher for £xx! for me to purchase my own power lead!

They’ve now give me a credit.

and Distributor in the UK has advised this item does not ship in the UK with a UK power lead, it’s up to reseller to provide one.

So that’s a can of worms!

Happy and sorted! and cash in pocket!

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Andrew Hancock says:
11 June 2018

it’s a puzzle no other review mentioned the lack of 3 pin plug ? But they may not have been reviewing a true Amazon purchase. e.g. not from marketplace or Fulfilled…