The number of Brits buying fake electrical goods has doubled in the past year. Have you been tempted by a ‘bargain’ that turned out to be anything but?
More than 2.5 million of us have either knowingly or unknowingly bought a counterfeit electrical product in the last year alone, according a report by the charity Electrical Safety First this week.
I need to hold my hand up at this point. In my pre-Which? days I took a chance on what looked like a remarkably cheap laptop battery. You can probably guess what happened. It took eight weeks to arrive (from China) and only held its charge for 45 minutes.
Unsurprisingly, I’m not alone in my desire to save money. Cost is the most important reason given by people who thought about buying a counterfeit electrical item. One in 12 would still buy an item they knew to be fake, if it was cheaper than the original.
But of course people don’t always know an item’s a fake when they buy. The report also includes examples of people buying from sellers on quite legitimate online marketplaces only to discover when the goods arrived that they had been scammed and the product was obviously not the real thing.
What fake goods are we buying?
E-cigarettes and blenders are among the most popular fake products we’re buying, according to Electrical Safety First. The charity, dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents, has carried out tests on some of these counterfeit items to see how safe they really are.
Worryingly, it found that while many items may look safe, even those with small fake internal parts are at risk of exploding – leaving those buying them vulnerable to serious injury or property damage.
In fact, more than half of us who’d bought a fake electrical product said they’d had a problem of some kind with it.
Three in five of all fake electrical goods are bought from online retailers, but social media is emerging as a new marketplace. Nearly one in 10 of those who’d bought a counterfeit electrical product said they’d found it via an ad on social media.
How can you spot a fake?
Fake goods are sold at low and often, very tempting, prices. Be wary of deals that appear too good to be true – they usually are!
And don’t buy something you know is far below the recommended retail price – no matter how tempting.
Check the packaging, too. Remember, something that’s supposed to be expensive will not be delivered to you wrapped in plastic. Be wary of anything with low-quality packaging or no logo.
Our guide includes more on how to spot a fake product and how to check if a website is genuine. And if you do inadvertently buy a counterfeit item, you can use our step-by-step guide to report it to trading standards.
Have you bought a fake item? What happened? How did you find out?