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A shameless plug for your two-pin plug comments

Two-pin EU plug

Two-pin plugs. Who would have thought such a topic would inspire so many comments. It seems being sent an electrical item without a UK plug turns most people off. Let’s have a look at some of your comments.

Most electricals should be delivered with a UK three-pin plug (some are exempt, like shavers and toothbrushes). The fact that some online retailers don’t do this started a lively debate.

There were loads of comments to choose from (more than 300 in fact), so I’m sorry if I’ve missed any of you out. Anyway, here’s Socketman to launch this round-up:

‘It is quite appalling that online sellers think it is OK to ignore UK law. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Trading Standards is organised on a local basis and find it difficult to tackle multi-national companies like Amazon.’

Amazon – let’s socket to them

Amazon was mentioned in a number of your comments, with third-party Amazon Marketplace sellers often posting out electricals with EU plugs. Alan bought a wireless adapter:

‘It came with a two-pin plug and extra adapter to connect up to a UK socket. Quite a cumbersome bit of kit. When I queried it with the supplier they said these were imported from Europe and they added the adapter for UK markets.’

It’s important to note that sending out an adapter isn’t good enough – any two-pin plugged appliance must be fitted with a conversion plug. Boglost bought a scanner:

‘It had a two-pin plug transformer on its cable. I didn’t realise that this type of plug was illegal in the UK and just considered it an inconvenience to use a two-pin adapter.’

Philip123 was also delivered a scanner with the wrong plug, but had a better experience:

‘I ordered a scanner in the summer and, finding it had a two-pin plug I returned it at [Amazon’s] request, for a refund. After a number of emails between us, in which they specifically claimed their stock had been checked at the warehouse and was now UK, not EU, I re-ordered. Same problem. As I really wanted the scanner I suggested they send me a £5 adapter or a credit note towards one. To my surprise they decided to give me 15% discount to keep the scanner and obtain my own adapter.’

Pulling the plug on two-pin plugs

Goodfoodie has had a bit of trouble with Argos:

‘I was bought a Kodak printer as a Christmas present, only to find the cable had a two-pin plug attached. Contacted Argos who offered to send me an adapter, which I declined stating that they had illegally supplied an item. I declined a refund as I want the item. Eventually I was put through to a supervisor and after several conversations […] they are posting me a correct cable.’

Not everyone was critical of two-pin plugged appliances. Sumbloke just fits UK plugs himself:

‘I buy most of my aquarium equipment online as there are massive savings to be had compared to buying from local aquatic dealers. Most of the equipment – heaters, filters and lighting come with two-pin plugs attached and a three-pin adapter is supplied for UK plug sockets. I just chop off the two-pin plug and install a three-pin plug. This is not an issue for me and I will certainly continue to support my favourite online dealers.’

If you, like Sumbloke, are happy to replace a two-pin plug with its three-pinned cousin, make sure you know how to change a plug safely. But, of course, you really shouldn’t have to. Have you ever ordered electrical goods online just for it to arrive with a two-pin plug?

Comments

I recently started to refurbish 1960s Tape Recorders as a hobby. The ones I have up to now have all been UK models but I recently purchased a Grundig TK27L which unlike the other Grundigs I have, was made in Germany. It has a two pin plug with only two wires and no earth whereas a similar TK17L UK model has an earth wire connected to the chassis. I was thinking of replacing the two wires with a 3 wire flex and UK plug and connecting to the chasis as the TK17L. What do you think?

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Hi Duncan and thanks for the reply. One question: On the TK27L with no earth there is a 1M ohm resistor between the chassis and the frame of the motor, this is not present on the TK17L with an earth. What’s that resistor for?

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norman says:
28 April 2017

I have a blender supplied by Wellindal with a two pin plug. Unable to contact this firm as the phone is not answered and it is not posssible to contact them by email.

alex says:
5 January 2018

[Sorry, your comment has been removed to align with our community guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

I recently used the Etihad rewards shop to order a Braun iron. The iron was provided by the merchant Qaez, based in Holland. I should have noticed the warning on the Etihad rewards shop pages but never thought anyone would be so stupid as to sell two pin plugged items to the UK market. Why would Etihad do this? They will either get no UK orders or lots of complaints.

Etihad have washed their hands of my complaint and say it is for me to talk to Qaez. Qaez did not even supply an adaptor/transformer. They say I can post the heavy iron back to Holland but I will have to pay the costs.

I know have a lovely iron that is completely useless to me and no idea what type of adaptor or transformer I need to use for it to safely work in the UK.

The selling of two pin items to the UK market should be illegal. At least, the ‘two pin’ aspect of these products should be highlighted in bold at the top of each product page and added to the item title/name.

I am disgusted with Etihad and Qaez but there is nothing I can do. Only to make sure I never use either company again and pass on my bad experiences.

Chris says:
12 July 2020

Cut the two pin plug off (It’s actually a schuko plug, with two pins, and metal earth contacts at top and bottom of plug)
Strip back the outer insulation to expose the blue brown and green wires. trim the wires accordingly, to fit a UK plug. It will work perfectly.

When he posted his comment nearly three years ago, Mr Davis wrote: “The selling of two pin items to the UK market should be illegal.”

It is illegal, and has been so for a very long time. The sad fact is, though, that since selling electrical products on-line became the chief retail method it has proved very difficult to control the illegal trade.

Unfortunately, over that three-year period neither the government, nor Trading Standards, nor the digital marketplaces that enable these sales, have been able or inclined to do anything about it. Which? has occasionally raised the issue but to no avail; there has never been a strong campaign to raise the profile of this important safety concern.

It’s all very well suggesting that people cut off the non-compliant plug and fit a 3-pin UK compliant one, but nobody should have to do that and many buyers, not expecting such a product defect, are ill-equipped to either rectify it themselves or assert their rights under the Consumer Rights Act and reject the product for a full refund.

Some of the 3-pin 13-amp UK-compliant plugs on sale in the UK, most of which are probably made in the Far East, don’t look well-made to me with very flimsy cases and poor quality terminals., and the same can be true of the 13-amp plugs factory-fitted to imported goods.

UK 3-pin plugs are legally required to comply with BS 1363 or BS 1363A and any that have a CE marking should be treated as counterfeit because it is not relevant to our plugs and sockets. I have not seen any substandard plugs for years, but loose plugs are no longer common because the law requires goods to be supplied with a plug already fitted. One that complies with the law, of course. Substandard plugs used to be common in the 60s and 70s.

Rather than replacing a plug as Chris has advocated I suggest asking the retailer to provide a product that complies with the law.

The iron (a couple of comments above) was presumably a product acquired in exchange for air miles. I don’t know how the UK regulations then apply. I have looked at the Etihad “shop” and, whilst I could not find the iron I did find a Braun toaster. This stated quite clearly that it would be supplied with an Asian/European plug. I’d get a UK plug fitted.

I regard it as particularly serious that, as in Mr Davis’s case, electric irons are being sold on-line with non-compliant plugs. It is essential that such appliances are expertly fitted with a correctly fused and earthed compliant plug.

Depending on the situation, there is sometimes considerable movement of the iron’s flex that could affect the plug/socket connexion which poses safety hazards, especially if users attempt to insert the round-pin plug in a flat-pin socket as another contributor suggests [below].

I am deeply concerned at the incomplete advice that Chris has given above because it will leave Ian with an unearthed iron, and if it is a steam iron containing water then there is an added dimension to the hazard.

The description of the iron, not sold but exchanged for rewards points, clearly stated the plug fitted. I suppose Etihad should simply not list such items on the UK customer rewards programme.

I do wish Which? would pursue UK vendors when they sell and supply products fitted with Rio pin plugs. We hear of occasional, but regular, instances here.Given the small number of people who use these Convos it implies there are a much larger number of illegal sales we never hear about.

This example also shows how the superior consumer rights legislation in the UK is becoming ineffective given the increasing number of goods imported from abroad. Ian has been told by the supplier that he will have to pay to return the iron to the merchant in The Netherlands. The same could apply if it was a faulty product supplied from within the UK but the cost would usually be considerably lower and many UK retailers provide free returns of faulty products.

I’ve just noticed a predictive text failure in my comment preceding John’s. For “Rio” pin plug read “two” pin plugs. Either nobody’s read it, nobody cared, or they just realised I was careless and knew what was meant 😀

I’m sure I was not the only one to notice but it’s easy to guess what you meant. Rio (de Janeiro) uses three-pin plugs (type N).

The Schuko plug will fit into the three-pin socket and is perfectly safe as I have had them at home for over ten years. All you have to do is insert a screw-driver into the top hole of the socket and insert the Schuko plug and voilà. My intention is not to be pedantic but the two-pin plug is not called a European plug as there are various types of European plugs: British, Irish, Swiss, Italian, Schuko et al.

THIS IS DANGEROUS.

It will work but if there is a problem with the equipment you could set the house on fire. There is no fuse in a Schuko plug and also you could damage or overheat the socket.

Two pin plugs can be inserted either way so unless you appliance has a double pole switch in can still be live when switched off The switch could only switch the neutral side leaving all the appliance live but not working Dangerous things Two pin plugs were proposed and rejected by most electricians and their organisations when proposed to follow the EU in the eighties

A couple of days ago I had a look at a friend’s ancient Bamix hand-held blender, which was still working but produced smoke. As I had expected, the suppression capacitor had failed. I am not sure of the vintage but the blender cable has the modern brown and blue insulation on the conductors. Disappointingly the blue is connected to the single-pole mains switch. Naughty.

dave says:
25 January 2018

The same way as it is illegal to have a power socket in the bathroom whilst it is standard in the whole world. Perhaps building standards of the houses should be improved instead applying rubbish restrictions.

I think I would rather stay with our existing regulations, Dave.

What specifically needs to be improved in our building standards?

Roger says:
28 March 2018

A number of issues cross my mind with this approach:
1 – Often the plugs used in European countries actually have an earth contact down their side so, although they only have two obvious ‘pins’ they are actually three pole connectors, but this isn’t always the case. In the case of such three pole connectors, insertion into a UK BS1363 mains socket fails to provide connection to earth ….a safety risk.
2 – UK BS1363 mains sockets have flat connections within, which provide a large surface contact area for UK BS1363 plugs. Similarly Schucko type mains sockets contain curved connections, to provide a reasonable contact area for round pinned Schucko plugs. Insertion of round pinned plugs into mains sockets designed to accept flat pinned plugs means that only a thin strip of the flat contact touches the round pin. At high current levels this could lead to overheating and, possibly, an outbreak of fire.
3 – UK BS1363 sockets are rated at a current of 13 Amps, Schucko type sockets are rated at 16Amps; devices sourced from within the EU, delivered with Schucko plugs attached may exceed the rating of a UK mains socket by some 500watts – I have a case of this is hand at the moment; a 3.5Kw Burrito Oven, sourced in the EU, delivered with a factory fitted 16A Schucko plug ….exceeds the rating of a UK mains socket as described previously, so a dedicated spur is being installed to serve the oven, with a 16A breaker and a single Schucko socket.

Roger says:
28 March 2018

17th edition wiring regulations permit the installation of sockets in bathrooms, providing the socket is located at least 3m from the outer edge of ‘Zone 2’. From a practical perspective, the ‘3m’ requirement tends to rule out many (most) bathrooms.

I have had a washing machine installed in my bathroom in the UK. It is perfectly legal as long as you follow the strict guidelines in place.

Hi I bought a marcher power washer arrived to day with 2 pin plug can I use it with an adapter

Agnes – Only if you use it with a special converter socket that encloses the 2-pin plug and then fits into a standard UK socket. These are relatively expensive, bulky, and are primarily designed for appliances that will be static [i.e. not plugged and unplugged each time it is used].

I would suggest that a pressure washer, normally used outdoors and possibly plugged into an extension lead or outside socket, is not a suitable appliance for use with a converter socket and certainly not with the common types of travel adaptors which are not approved and are of sub-standard design.

Since it is illegal to sell into the UK market an appliance not fitted with a standard UK plug you could either (a) return the machine for either a full refund or a compliant replacement [at the seller’s expense for return of the unit], or (b) you could get a competent person to cut off the existing plug and fit a standard 13 Amp UK plug [ideally a durable rubber one].

I presume the make of your pressure washer is Kärcher.

Agnes, I would think it is rather dangerous to use water with a plug and adaptor that is not designed for that purpose.

I recently had the same same happen to me. My purchase was from Amazon and they replaced the product as it is illegal, so as John said go back to the seller for a correct UK model You could also contact the manufacturer who may be able to help.

Products with a single-pole mains switch should be wired so that this is in the Live/Line rather than Neutral conductor. Since a two-pin plug can be inserted either way, there is a 50% chance that it could be inserted in a converter plug the wrong way round, which compromises safety unless the product has a two-pole switch.

I strongly advise not fitting converter plugs and sending products back for a refund and buying from a reliable source.

I wish Which? would take action to push our Office of Product Safety and Standards to deal with the growing problem of products with the wrong plug being sold to UK customers.

Hear, hear, Wavechange.

We don’t know where Agnes bought her pressure washer, but unfortunately, with purchases on ‘market place’-type platforms especially, it is not always easy to get the seller to do the right thing by providing a refund or supplying a replacement and arranging for free return of the original product.

I really want to see an end to the practice of supplying products with the wrong plug, John. I’ve seen examples of how people have dealt with the problem in a dangerous way.

As it is illegal perhaps there should be prosecutions? As long as contraventions are overlooked they will continue. Which? should be pursuing this to ensure consumers are better protected.

Many of us have said this, Malcolm. I also don’t know why converter plugs were ever approved for use because of the issue I mentioned above.

Have a bit of a problem with using a 2pin EU to 3pin UK adapter plugged in to a 220V, 50 Hz German Wurzburg W-8500 generator. The sockets on the generator have two horizontal pins and a provided earth connection top AND bottom. The adapter is symmetric but with no earth of its own, just the space for the earth connections from the generator to connect to any 3pin plug used in the adapter. Consequently it can be plugged in the normal way up (so an inserted 3pin plug lead would be at the bottom) and upside down (where an inserted 3pin plug lead would be at the top). It would seem logical to plug in the adapter so the 3 pin socket is the normal way up with the earth on top. BUT, turning it upside down could mean connecting the live directly to earth (I don’t know the circuits inside the generator). Surely, the manufacturer should have provided just ONE earth (at the top, maybe ?) ensuring any appliance requiring an earth must be plugged in the normal way up. Meaning that the adapter would also have to plugged in to the generator the normal way up. OR have I got it all wrong????

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Hi Sonic – Let’s assume that you are not interested in using the 3-phase output, a rather unusual feature for a fairly low power portable generator. I assume it has a Schuko (Type F) socket, which Duncan mentions. One of the disadvantages of the Schuko socket is that is is non-polarised – the plug can be inserted either way round. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AC_power_plugs_and_sockets

In my opinion (and I’m no expert) it’s OK to use a portable generator to power a single item such as a power tool without an earth, assuming that the generator is not earthed. For other purposes the generator should be earthed (the generator should have a connector for this purpose) and Neutral linked to Earth at the generator. You would need an adaptor that does connect the Earth contacts of the socket to the Earth pin of the UK or other plug.

My Honda generator came with an unfamiliar 3-pin socket and I swapped it for a 16 amp blue weatherproof socket, which are common used outdoors, for example at caravan sites.

Sonic, most of Euro 2 pin to UK 3 pin adapters that I’ve seen are cheap “shavers only” designs that aren’t safe to use on circuits that need an earth connection.

Some do properly cater for earth connections, but those are more elusive and expensive.

This is sometimes an issue where I work, when foreign visitors bring in laptops that need earthed supplies.

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Or in simple terms some laptop chargers use a 3 wire connection and some don’t.

I’ve just received a craft iron from Amazon.co.uk and it arrived with an EU plug which I changed to a 13amp UK plug and (most importantly) fitted the correct fuse.

Nice to see that Sainsbury’s may have become more aware of the safety issues involved when EU visitors want to use their earthed appliances over here.

Imaging my surprise on finding a proper earthed EU/UK visitor adaptor on sale here in sunny Gloucester:

https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/plugs-two-pin-british-amazon-electrical-appliances/#comment-1568686

I got a macowave from amazon only got to prongs on it my wall socket has 3prongs can I use a 3point plug a
to put the 2pronge microwave in the wall

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Hi Hilda and Duncan, before using any kind of plug adaptor, you’d need to check whether or not you need one that provides for the two euro pins and also, most importantly, any associated earth connection.

For example, the spare recent production inexpensive microwave that I have here clearly states in its safety notices that it needs a grounded (i.e. earthed) connection.

Personally, I’ve never seen a microwave that didn’t need an earth connection.

I think the best advice here would be to return the offending microwave oven and get a UK specification one instead.

Failing that, a competent person could be employed to fit a UK plug.

The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994 require that products sold in the UK have either a UK 3-pin plug or a converter plug is fitted when supplied. No adaptors are permitted. One of the reasons is that an inappropriate adaptor could be used – for example one lacking an Earth connection. As Derek says, a microwave oven must have an Earth, which protects from electric shock in event of a fault.

I suggest that Hilda asks Amazon to collect their microwave oven and refund her money.

As it is illegal to supply appliances with incorrect plugs fitted, and it seems to be a habit of Amazon, is it not time to take action against them to make them more responsible?

Colin says:
25 March 2020

Are F type generator sockets legal in UK, if so where can I obtain a plug to fit

F-type (Schuko) sockets are not polarised, meaning that the plug can be inserted the wrong way round, which is important if the generator is earthed. I suggest having the socket swapped for a socket that takes 16 amp IP44 rated splash proof ‘blue plugs’ that are commonly used for caravans and boats.

Christopher Michael says:
11 April 2020

I have recently purchased a Yamaha hi Fi Amp AX- 496 from Germany (2 pin plug). Can’t get it to work, looks like it’s already blown a 3pin plug adaptor. Is it usable in UK , what fuse should be used in the adaptor?
Many thanks for any advice

David says:
13 April 2020

Yes. It is absolutely usable in the UK, with the appropriate plug.
Electrically speaking and in terms of electrical safety standards, UK and continental European appliances are exactly the same. The only difference is the plug/socket system.

You can either get an appropriate adaptor i.e. a proper ‘Schuko’ to UK adaptor which should look like a full, earthed German socket, with grounding springs at the top and bottom of the recessed part;

or, if this is something that’s going to be used in the UK permanently, just fit a UK plug and just cut off the CEE 7 continental plug.

If you’re unsure how to do this, consult someone who is familiar with wiring plugs.

Although plug fuses can be obtained in a range of amperages (5amp and 10amp were common), there are now only generally only two sold 3amp or 13amp ratings and the approach has been simplified:

For appliances rated up to 700 Watts, you should fit a 3amp fuse.
For appliances rated from 700 Watts to 3000 Watts, you would fit a 13amp fuse.

For something like an amplifier, you are probably looking at less than 700 Watts, so a 3amp fuse would be approrporate. Check the rating plate on the back of the device. It should say something like 230V or 220-240V 50Hz and something like 150W

NB: UK sockets cannot handle more than 3000 Watts (13 amps), while most modern continental sockets can safely go right up to 3600 Watts (16 amps). However, appliances rated more than 2800W/3000W are very unusual these days, but they can sometimes be encountered, particularly on certain cooking appliances, small kilns and so on.

For example, certain items such as certain domestic single ovens on the continent are supplied with a normal ‘Schuko’ plug, as they come in at less than 16amps, while they would have to be hardwired in the UK as the plug/socket system here is not designed for that load.

If an appliance is rated more than 3000 Watts, it would need to be hardwired or a special industrial type socket fitted to use it with a plug/socket setup and in both cases, appropriate protection would need to be provided for the circuit. If you encounter an appliance like this, consult an electrical contractor as it involves wiring, but you can absolutely use it in the UK, just not with standard plug/socket connection.

David says:
13 April 2020

Actually just checked the Yamaha AX-496. It’s 210 Watts, so just fit a UK plug with a 3amp fuse.

If you are using a German-UK adaptor, it absolutely must not be a shaver plug or a cheap travel adaptor. A 1amp shaver adaptor is only suitable for charing shavers/toothbrushes.

Use a proper ‘Schuko’ to UK adaptor.

Also bear in mind that continental plugs for appliances that require earths, are earthed, despite being two-pin.

The earth contacts are at the top/bottom of the plug (and a hole in the front for France/Belgium/Poland etc). This makes contacts with springs at the top and bottom of the recessed socket (or accepts the earth pin sticking out of the recess on French sockets.) The same plug fits both types and connects the live, neutral and earth.

NEVER EVER use an earthed European CEE 7/7 ‘Schuko’ plug (the larger type with metal strips at the top and bottom and hole at the front) with an adaptor that does not connect the earth. The correct adaptors are deep, recessed sockets with contacts at the top and button of the socket recess.

Many cheap travel adaptors do not connect these and could expose you to risk of shock.

Also Schuko plugs do not fit BS1363 sockets. The 16amp pins are wider than the receptacles and, while some people will inappropriately force them in, they will deform and damage them.

The smaller, flat, 2.5amp ‘Europlugs’ found on most small, double insulated (no earth required) appliances, mobile phone chargers etc, should also never be jammed into a UK/Irish socket. While they will fit due to the pins being quite small, if the socket is on a ring circuit (which is very likely) the appliance would only be fused at 32amps which is a signifiant fire hazard. Also the pins may not make good contact and could arc and cause issues as the plug is not designed for use in these sockets.

Basically, never, ever use a European plug in the UK or Ireland without a fused and properly earthed adaptor.

anne townsend says:
2 May 2020

I bought an electric mower from ebay, model Elektro Rasenmäher Grizzly EM 1130 Powermotor 1100 Watt. It was on an english translated site so I didn’t know that the electrics were different. It arrived with a two pin plug socket but no cable. I have no idea what I need to do or get to be able to use it so I asked the company this question. They reply:
You are right, we are very sorry about this. Let me explain you:
You bought the item on German ebay. It was auto translated by ebay UK.
We only sell German version. The law in Germany is different. the cable may not be longer than 30 cm due to the reason, that if you cut the cable, you need to open the machine.
If you use an extension cable, the machine will still work and you only need to change the extension cable. Since this is European law, we cannot make any difference for the UK buyer.

I hope you can understand, What I know is, that the price is still only 35-40% of what you would pay for the UK version, so there should be enough savings for the plug and cable.

I thanked them for the reply but they did not answer my further questions. Yes, I am confused.35 – 40% makes no difference if I 100% can’t use it. Do I order a cable from their site, cut off the plug and replace it, this is illegal? is it dangerous?. Do I need instead an adapter or transformer, if so what, they do not answer my questions, probably due to limited English and lockdown. It’s a nice mower, but how can I use it. They say I can return it, but it has been assembled, I don’t want to pay return costs if it is usable. Can anyone help here please?

.

Anne – Without knowing exactly what type of connector is fitted to the mower – whether it is a safety socket on the handle bar with two rectangular pins or a cable connector on a short length of cable with two round pins – it is impossible to recommend a specific solution. But if you are content to order a suitable cable from the seller in Germany then I suggest you do so. You can then cut off the continental plug and fit a standard UK 13A plug – there will only be two cores in the cable so you must not make any earth connection as the mower will be double-insulated. Doing this is not illegal.

In attempting to meet UK legal requirements the seller has dispensed with the power cable altogether but what they have suplied does not meet UK regulations either because these require a 3-pin plug suitable for UK standard sockets to be fitted to all appliances sold into the UK market. So they have actually broken the law. If y choose to get one from them I think you should ask them to supply the cable at their own expense and not charge you for it.

Alternatively, it is possible to buy power leads for Bosch [and other] mowers from various sellers on-line and from DIY stores. It will have a safety connector for fitting to a safety socket with shielded rectangular pins on the machine. The other end will have a UK 13A plug. There will be a flap over the connector end which will ensure a firm connection when the two parts are coupled together.

Thank you John for your information, that’s very helpful. To confirm, it is a cable connector on a short length of cable with two round pins. I had no idea they had broken UK regulations doing this. I just wish it wasn’t possible for them to do. All the same end of frustration, I can now sort it out with your helpful info and wont have to cut the grass with scissors this year. Thanks again, electrichurts.

Em says:
2 May 2020

Anne – From your description, it is almost certain that the safety switch on your mower has a “Schuko” 2-pin plug moulded into the base of the switch housing. Have a look at the image for a “Tripus Two-hand safety switch L 230V (tube built-on switch)” in Google and see if it looks the same. It’s basically a German mains plug surrounded by a circular plastic shield.

You could then try something like a ready-assembled Wolf Garten 20 M Mains Cable. About £20. I think Qualcast electric mowers (Homebasee?) are similar, but the mains cables seem to be the same price for half the length.

If in any doubt, take your mower to a service agent or qualified electrician. Make sure you always use a 30mA RCD when cutting the lawn.

Anne – You might find it hard to buy a ready-made UK-compliant complete cable fitted with a cable connector like yours at the appliance end because they have been superseded by the safety type with rectangular pins and a securing guard. Try looking for “lawnmower cable with round pin connector”.

If you can get one there is a possibility that it will not mate properly with the connector already on your mower because those fittings are not standardised and the German one might be slightly different in spacing of the pins or diameter or lengh of the pins compared with a UK version. If it doesn’t fit easily but securely, don’t force it or leave it loose.

Alternatively, you might have to go down the make-it-yourself route. You would need to buy a length of cable plus a complete cable connector consisting of both the male and female parts which could be used to couple with the male end on the machine but, again, it might not be compatible. If not compatible you could at least cut off the part on the mower and then fit the male connector part to the short length of cable. The female part goes on the long cable from the socket to the mower. Fitting a connector to the cable is not difficult but can be fiddly.

You would need a length of two-core cable, preferably red or orange, to fit the other [female] part of the connector to one end and a 3-pin UK plug to the other – this should be a durable plug for outdoor use and the casing will normally be of rubber composition. These come in various designs and can also be tricky to fit. You usually have to remember to slide the top cover of the plug over the cable end before connecting the blue and brown conductors to the pins in the base part and then pop the fuse back in place before sliding the top cover back over the cable and onto the base part.

Once you have done all that you will need a cup of tea.

Overall I think it would be best to get a complete fitted cable with matching female connector from your German supplier – but hurry! The grass is growing fast right now. You would still have to cut off and dispose of the continental plug and fit a UK standard durable plug.

I think growing grass is faster than parcel post these days.🌾🌾🍀🌾🌾🌾🌵🌾🌾🙄

John that’s amazeballs. I’m nowhere near competent for the diy version. Had a look at wolf gaten 20m, and other options, there is concern that the spacing may be different, so plumb for return to original supplier and replace the plug. That will work without doubt and have 30mA RCD, youv’e been and sorted me out and I need a cup of tea before anything else. Will continue to follow comments about this 2 pin palava and good of you to be so helpful. Cheers.

2 pin plugs don’t go away.

I have just opened my new PC monitor bought from Amazon UK, it was in stock and supplied by Amazon.

I opened the box and it has a 2-pin plug with no UK one supplied. On further examination of the box, it has been sent from Amazon Italy.

Some have claimed that it’s only Amazon marketplace traders that are failing to comply with regulations but there are plenty of examples of Amazon doing the same.

Why has Which? raised this problem and failed to take any effective action?

This is why I get so frustrated with Which? every time it launches some new populist campaign which it does not have the resources to support or follow through to a satisfactory conclusion.

And what is the Office of Product Safety and Standards doing about this? Has Which? spoken to them lately? Called them in for an action plan or a progress report?

I despair.

They are sending me a new monitor as they say they cannot send out UK plugs. The other monitor took weeks to arrive as presumably there are none in the UK, so I wonder what plug this one will have on it? It is going to take up to 10 days to arrive.

I’m glad you are rejecting the monitor with the wrong plug, Alfa. If more people did this it would cost the retailers too much in paying for collection and replacement of goods that do not comply with the law.

I didn’t reject it wavechange but asked them to send the correct plug.

The monitor took a month to arrive. It was supposedly in stock, and still is, but obviously not when it has been shipped from Italy.

At another time I would have rejected it, but in current times requesting the correct plug seemed the simplest thing to do.

Amazon chat instantly ordered a new monitor and said they couldn’t just send the plug.

But since when did PC monitors need external power adaptors/converters? Is it so one model supplies all countries? We looked at reviews and reports around the internet and not one mentioned it although I suppose it is obvious now looking at the spec, but how a monitor is powered is not something we would think to look for. It did get a mention in Amazon reviews but we probably ignored them and only bought from Amazon as it was the only place with any left !!!

It just means one more item sitting on the floor getting dusty and had I known would have looked at something else.

I remember you saying that you were going to replace a monitor with colour fringing and keep the old one as a spare.

In a slim monitor or TV there might not be room to incorporate the power supply in the case, but even my huge A3 multi-function printer has a separate power supply. I suspect that by avoiding mains voltage in the product the manufacturer does not have to comply with certain design requirements such as separation circuitry operating at high voltage from anything that the user might touch or low voltage circuitry. Doing this adds the risk that the user could connect the wrong power supply and damage their product.

From my own experience and that of friends, deliveries are taking far longer than normal during the current coronavirus problems.

I received my new monitor with exactly the same problem – no UK plug. I have contacted LG who are supplying one free of charge. It is on order so don’t know when it will arrive.

Both Amazon and LG customer service have been extremely helpful. I could have waited for a UK model from Amazon or they offered to reimburse the cost of the plug.

There is something woefully wrong – ignorance, probably – with a supply chain that is importing potentially hazardous products. Are retailers learning from the experience of having to replace components or refund entire purchases.

In my opinion, facilitating DIY plug replacement is not a satisfactory or inherently safe form of corrective action in respect of a non-compliant product.

It would appear products sold by Amazon are not necessarily in the UK, but somewhere in Europe as both monitors look as though they have been shipped directly from Italy. They have now removed it from sale by Amazon although it is still available from an Amazon marketplace seller. There are no more of this model available elsewhere in the UK.

If so many electronics were not in short supply at the moment, I would reject this monitor and get a different one looking for one with a direct power supply not a separate power adaptor/converter. I could use my old one in the hope it keeps going and wait until things get back to normal but that could take many, many months and prices will probably go up.

Michelle says:
15 May 2020

I purchased a power washer on line and was very disappointed to see it only had a 2 pin plug. I cant seem to find any adapters with high voltage, only for shavers or toothbrushes. Would any one know where i can purchase. The name of the company is called Lynvec

Hi Michelle – Please ask for a full refund because not all adaptors (including the ones you mention) will provide a satisfactory Earth connection, with the risk of electrocution. You are entitled to a full refund within 14 days of purchase for goods purchased online if they have not been used. Lynvec shows a UK address on their website and is breaking the law by supplying a product without a normal UK plug.

I suggest you avoid online companies that operate ‘marketplaces’ because traders may not comply with the law.

Given that Michelle’s pressure washer is not fit for purpose [because the power supply does not comply with UK regulations], the remedy comes under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which allows thirty days from the date of receipt in which to claim a refund, repair or replacement.

See the following Which? guidance –
https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act

Hi, just received a Bosch electric drill from eBay, think it came from Italy, has a two pin cable wit a U.K. adapter, tried it and works fine, just want to check this is safe

Regards

Steve

Without seeing the product it’s impossible to say, but a qualified electrician could advise. I know that B&Q often have large discounts on Bosch products and have never seen one that would be illegal to sell in the UK.

The saga of my LG monitor bought from Amazon above continues . . .

Ordered on 5th April
Delivered without a UK plug 24th April
Delivered a 2nd monitor on 7th May again without a UK plug.
9th May, Amazon are selling and supplying my monitor for £51.51 less than we paid

LG very kindly agreed to supply a UK plug for free but sent a power adaptor.
Last week LG sent us the UK plug so 2 months after ordering, I finally have a working monitor.

I still have to return the first monitor to Amazon. They initially extended the return date until the end of June but then changed to threaten they would charge us for it if not returned early June. After an online chat that has now been extended again.

I have already had to buy an inflated priced wide tape to reseal the box. The return label has to be printed and our printer is broken. I have asked Amazon to send us a return label but they refuse. They have suggested we use a different courier and they will reimburse us, but we would still need to print a label !!!

I know we need to buy a new printer but we are not too impressed with what seems to be available at the moment and hate buying things ‘to keep us going for now’. We either put up with their inferiority or they prematurely get dumped.

All this hassle is because Amazon illegally supplied us a product without a UK plug.

Ian, you are always singing the praises of Amazon, how would you sort this out?

We often see Amazon delivery vans and I did suggest one of them pick up the monitor when passing but was told they only deliver !!!

My wife bought a DeLonghi coffee machine (EC-685), I think it was via OnBuy, and it arrived with a moulded Schuko 2-pin plug. (Not entirely sure where the product was dispatched from, as paperwork and online info separately mentioned businesses in both Spain and Italy). We took it up with the supplier online, and told them it was illegal to sell products with this plug to UK consumers , and although they disputed this (they said it was mentioned on their website, which it definitely wasn’t), they dispatched an adaptor which they said should have been supplied in the box anyway.
When it eventually arrived, it appeared to be half-decent quality (not a basic travel adaptor) and was fitted with a 13A fuse, and had earth connections. The appliance worked OK and all was well for a couple of weeks until 2 days ago when I heard a faint crackle from the wall socket, and, on removing the plug from the wall, discovered that the fuse in the adaptor was clearly overheating, as the plastic around it was starting to deform (the Live pin of the adaptor was also extremely hot). The appliance is rated at 1350W, and as far as I’m aware, a 13A fuse should be fine – so I’m guessing it’s down to a less-than-100% secure connection in the plug-adaptor-socket combination, even though it didn’t feel loose in the wall.
I’ve now ordered a “proper” Schuko-to-UK converter (the kind that screws shut around the Schuko plug) from a reputable electrical dealer, and am hoping this will sort it out. I certainly don’t want to cut off the plug and replace it with a UK one, to protect the warranty.
One niggling concern though – the Schuko plug is labelled “16A 250v”, and I note from comments in this thread that 16A is normal for these…my question is (and please forgive my lack of electrical knowledge here), I take it this is OK, and that fitting a 13A fuse in this will provide the correct level of protection? Is it possible the appliance is faulty and was trying to draw more than 13A?
Incidentally, the appliance isn’t double-insulated (there’s no double-square symbol anywhere on it) and the Schuko plug features an Earth symbol beside the hole above the pins.

Hi Ally – Please check the appliance plug for any sign melted plastic or other signs of heat damage that can occur when an adaptor overheats. If it has overheated you could have the same problem again.

Your adaptor must have a 13 amp fuse. Schuko plugs and sockets are all rated at 16 amps. I hope the adaptor is what is known as a converter plug, which encases the Schuko plug and cannot be removed without a tool. They are enormous and not very convenient. It is legal to supply goods with converter plugs fitted but not to supply them loose.

The retailer should not have supplied a product with the wrong plug in the UK, but until our government takes action this will continue to happen.

Thanks for the feedback, Wavechange. No sign of heat damage to the Schuko plug, thankfully (albeit I can’t see what’s going on inside it), so it’s hopefully OK. The new adaptor, which just arrived this morning, is definitely the proper “encasing” type of converter and has a 13A fuse (https://www.euronetwork.co.uk/Schuko-European-To-UK-Converter-Plug-Black-13-Amp-SCP3-).

georgina rowlands says:
16 July 2020

I have just received 3 Gigaset A415 home phones for a friend as l have that make they arrived with 2pin & the phone socket doesnt even fit into our BT home phone socket l have now sent 3 emails they now say l need adapters how do l know what to get l am not an Electric person l didnt need adapters for mine.

Hi Georgia, it is illegal to sell such items with 2 pin mains plugs for UK use.

You should return them for a full refund.

It might also be worth telling the seller that products sold in the UK must comply with The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994.

malcolm j tranter says:
30 July 2020

i recently purchased a bosch psf 5000e paint sprayer from amazon which came with a 2pin euro plug but no converter
at the same time i purchased a ritter solida4 food slicer which also had a 2pin plug but a converter plug attached to the 2pin

the solida 4 slicer did not have a security sealing strip on the box
the bosch paint sprayer had a bosch sealing strip attaced !

amazons responce when i contacted them “i could return the paint sprayer if i was not happy with it”
for a full refund ??

If you had to pay for carriage you will be entitled to a refund of that too, Malcolm. It might also be worth telling the seller that products sold in the UK must comply with The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994.

Billy Renton says:
2 September 2020

Pretty sure it’s actually illegal to sell an electrical item in the UK, and provide a european Schuko plug on the end. I bought an amplifier from Amazon, came with EU plug. I bought a mobile phone, came with EU plug. On each occasion I told Amazon it was not legal to sell these items in the UK with a european plug on the end, and not telling people where it ships from. Each time they send me one with a euro plug, I send it back. They don’t seem to care though, and trading standards have got no teeth any more, they won’t take on Amazon.

Hi Billy,

Welcome to Which? Conversation.

You are correct about UK legislation, for example see here:-https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1994/1768/made

Thanks also for taking the trouble to send illegal items back to Amazon. If everyone did that, then they might actually start obeying the law.

Hi Billy – It is only legal to sell products with these non-UK plugs if the plug is enclosed in a ‘converter’ plug that cannot be removed without a tool, and has a fuse fitted. The ones for Europlugs are large and those for Schuko plugs even bigger. It is not permissible to supply a loose converter plug or adaptor. If you contact Amazon you could mention the legislation that they have ignored: The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994.

I presume these were bought through Amazon UK? If so, they are serial offenders and as such should be prosecuted. If, however, they came from a market place trader promoted by Amazon they have, sadly, no responsibility it seems. If the item were ordered from a European Amazon centre then they could, I believe, legitimately supply a non-UK plug.

I remember when contributor ‘Scott’ first raised this issue, which must have been eight years ago. 🙁 Governments past and present have had ample time to investigate the problem and decide how best to deal with the problem.

Even if we discount the fact that it is possible to buy from suppliers that are not based in the UK, there many examples of goods with the wrong plug being sold via UK websites.

It is Trading a Standard’s responsibility to deal with such offences, I believe, so why have they not prosecuted Amazon? Have these transgressions been reported to them either directly, or by Which?. I have not seen any reports of Which? tackling this problem.

Protecting consumer safety – funding Trading Standards, setting up a proper recall system, controlling market places, getting a competent government department let alone a responsible minister for example – seems a low priority. But it should be a top priority for Which? As they are writing to the government about food standards should they not also be writing to them about product safety enforcement?

This might be achieved if we had a competent government but in recent years the funding for Trading Standards has been progressively cut, as you know. It might not be very ‘British’ to set up a pressure group to raise awareness of the relevant safety issues but maybe that is what is needed.

I though Which? was a pressure group. Or are you thinking of a “Consumer Lives Matter” approach?
I have repeatedly – and not alone – suggested we need a properly funded Trading Standards organisation at local and national level. Have Which? pursued a similar line?

I believe one of the offences in the electrical safety legislation is to “expose for sale” non-compliant goods. I thought that would cover goods being exposed through an on-line marketplace which enables, and does not control, sellers offering illegal goods.

Which? did take this up with Amazon some years ago with a disappointing outcome and has not revisited it recently despite the lack of any enforcement action by the relevant authorities and the absence of any judicial interpretation of the law. In my lay opinion the doctrine of vicarious liability applies to marketplace trades and I have yet to see a reasoned argument why it doesn’t. I see no reason why Which? could not test it in the courts. I expect a number of community members would be willing to put up a financial guarantee towards the costs if the action failed.

This is covered by The General Product Safety Regulations 2005, John.

I would rather my subscription was used to tackle the more serious issues we discuss rather than to test washing machines.

wavechange, we need both in my opinion. If I remember correctly Which?, at the outset, was substantially a product testing organisation for its Members and that is still, in my view, a key part of its role.

I’m sure we do, Malcolm. I’m just frustrated that this and the previous Convo on plugs have been on the go since 2012. Which? has identified a problem and tried to take action but nothing seems to have been achieved. I wonder if Which? has recognised that supplying products with the wrong plug can be a safety issue rather than an inconvenience.

It would be useful if we could have some input from someone from the Office of Public Safety and Standards or Trading Standards.

In the summary of Which?’s November 2019 policy paper “Online marketplaces and product safety” it says that “Online market places . . . are exempt from liability unless they are aware of illegal content”.

In the context of two-pin plugs I think it is necessary to distinguish between exemption from liability for unsafe products sold by their marketplace traders and exemption from liability in relation to illegal content of marketing material. Two-pin plugs are not only potentially unsafe but are actually illegal in the UK so marketplaces that are aware that a trader is selling appliances with non-compliant plugs is liable to prosecution, in my opinion, and the “exemption” defence should not be available to them. Amazon, especially, has been told many times so the “awareness” test is satisfied.

The Plugs and Sockets etc. Safety Regulations 1994 specify that –
12.—(1) Subject to the following provisions of this regulation, no person shall supply, offer for supply, agree to supply, expose for supply or possess for supply any appliance unless that appliance is correctly fitted with a standard plug . . .“.

With Amazon and possibly some other marketplaces I feel this hits the spot on every count.

There are twelve excellent recommendations in Which?’s policy paper and every one of them is both essential and urgent in my view.