“Highly dangerous” e-bike chargers have been found for sale on Amazon Marketplace, eBay, Wish.com and AliExpress by consumer safety charity Electrical Safety First. All sites have subsequently removed or blocked the relevant listings amid calls for greater regulation of online marketplaces.
London Fire Brigade has repeatedly warned about the dangers of using incorrect e-bike chargers and batteries after reporting a spike in call-outs in recent months.
The service says that in many cases fires were caused by equipment sourced online that did not meet safety standards.
An investigation by Electrical Safety First identified 59 online listings where e-bike chargers fell well below the necessary safety standards for sale to UK consumers.
All failed to meet the standards for UK plugs, with many lacking a fuse. Plugs without a fuse have no means of cutting out in the event of a fault in the supply lead, which is especially dangerous where a lithium-ion battery is being charged.
Electrical Safety First technical director, Martyn Allen, commented: “By the very nature of the batteries these dangerous charging devices are powering, it is a potential disaster waiting to happen.
“The process of charging e-bike batteries must be done with compatible and compliant chargers. These chargers we have identified for sale all pose an increased risk of fire and electric shock and should never have been available for sale to UK shoppers in the first instance.
“Given the frightening nature of lithium-ion battery fires, it is essential the charging equipment doesn’t pose any unnecessary risk to the battery or user.”
While all four sites removed the listings once they were pointed out to them, Allen called for tighter regulation of online marketplaces.
“The lack of vital regulation needed to ensure online marketplaces are responsible for the safety of goods sold via their platforms is contributing significantly to dangerous products entering people’s homes. The Government must bring forward urgent laws to finally end this scandal.”
The largest number of dangerous listings (21) was found on eBay.
An eBay spokesperson said: “We take product safety extremely seriously, and welcome the information provided to us by Electrical Safety First about these products. In addition to our block filter algorithms and security teams monitoring the site, we work closely with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure eBay remains free of unsafe products.
“In this instance, our close working relationship with ESF and the Trading Standards team at Kensington & Chelsea Council enabled the swift removal of these products.”
A spokesperson for Amazon where 13 of the listings were found said: “Safety is important to Amazon and we want customers to shop with confidence on our stores.
“We have proactive measures in place to prevent suspicious or non-compliant products from being listed and we monitor the products sold in our stores for product safety concerns.
“When appropriate, we remove a product from the store, reach out to sellers, manufacturers, and government agencies for additional information, or take other actions.
“If customers have concerns about an item they’ve purchased, we encourage them to contact our customer service directly so we can investigate and take appropriate action. We have removed these products from sale while we investigate.”
An AliExpress spokesperson said: “AliExpress takes product safety very seriously and we have strict guidelines in place to ensure a safe shopping environment. We thank Electrical Safety First for bringing these listings to our attention, we have removed the non-compliant items highlighted by their investigation.
“As a third-party marketplace, AliExpress does not take possession of the goods in transactions, we have policies in place that all sellers must comply with.”
A Wish.com spokesperson said: "All of our merchants must comply with local laws whenever selling on our platform, as noted in Wish’s Merchant Terms of Service and Wish Policies.
“After being informed that a number of advertised product images do not appear to meet UK legal standards, we've reached out to the merchants who sell the products in question, and have requested additional compliance documentation and higher resolution product imagery.
"Out of an abundance of caution, and in accordance with our policies, we are temporarily blocking these product listings from the EU and UK markets, pending the final outcome of the merchant-investigation. Once adequate documentation/response is received, we will review and consider whether further action is needed."