In 2008 the BBC “Watchdog” programme took Amazon to task for selling counterfeit and illegal goods. Brian McBride (then Amazon UK managing director) was interviewed in that programme, stating: “we do not tolerate counterfeit products .. we take them down as soon as we find out about them”. Really? Only one of the counterfeits we have bought from Amazon has been recalled!!!
The BBC page linked above describes the Amazon segment of the programme.
Some of the illegal product types which Amazon assured the BBC would be removed continue to be sold on Amazon more than seven years on! Here is a compilation of 10 illegal pepper spray products captured on the Amazon.co.uk website in March 2014: Amazon Pepper Spray and also an example of a captured page from Amazon (April 2012) offering CS Spray
In October 2014 PlugSafe became aware that Amazon.co.uk (Amazon, not a marketplace seller!) were offering a pistol which uses percussive cartridges to fire shots of pepper spray. A PlugSafe volunteer placed a test order on Amazon.co.uk and the pistol was duly delivered from the Amazon warehouse in Ridgmont, Bedfordshire, it was delivered via Royal Mail (an offence in itself as pepper spray is a prohibited item banned from sending in the mail). The delivery address was a house whose letter box is in full view of the street, the package was left hanging out of the letter box (fully accessible) by the postman, as it would not pass through! The package was passed, unopened, to officers from Police Scotland, in the presence of a local MP. Police Scotland launched an investigation, confirming that the product was a prohibited weapon. Subsequently, in the summer of 2015, Amazon.co.uk resumed sales of the pepper spray pistol! We contacted the Guardian Newspaper and they also made a test purchase of the illegal pistol which, as with the first one, was delivered from the same Bedfordshire warehouse. In December 2015 The Guardian published a front page article about Amazon’s sales of illegal weapons. Despite having been exposed yet again, Amazon.co.uk continued to support the sale of illegal weapons and by early March 2016 PlugSafe monitoring found over 30 seperate listings of pepper spray products on Amazon.co.uk, including many high-strength, high capacity aerosols designed for use against wid bears. This was followed by a second article on Amazon’s illegal weapons sales in The Guardian, this included details on weapons purchased from Amazon which feature in two recent trials involving the killings of teenagers Becky Watts and Bailey Gwynne.
Amazon UK continues to allow illegal and dangerous electrical goods to be sold through its marketplace, here is an annotated compilation of some samples of such products among the many which were listed at the beginning of March 2014, both this and other examples were included in evidence to the parliamentry committee looking at consumer rights. In February 2016 we purchased a sample of this cord set sold directly by Amazon.co.uk and featuring an illegal ‘guida’ brand plug with false approval marks. The Amazon offer clearly shows a plug with partially sleeved earth pin (therefore illegal) and the test purchase, direct from Amazon, confirmed that the supplied product is the illegal item offered!
We have made a similar March 2014 annotated compilation of eBay sample listings (all still available in June 2014!!!). Click here for an earlier gallery of sample ebay.co.uk listings for products which include illegal plugs, these are amongst the THOUSANDS of listings which ebay has removed since this campaign started in August 2011. The listings removed included over 140 of the completely illegal plug without a fuse! See samples of the deleted listings)
Although we wish eBay would prevent illegal plugs ever being offered for sale on their website we would like to acknowledge that, unlike Amazon, eBay take prompt action when informed of illegal listings by Trading Standards Departments. However, we have had absolutely no success in reporting illegal listings directly. eBay do provide a report button on every listing, but, in our experience, take no action when a product is reported via that method!
View a video made by Whites Electrical Portable Appliance Testing illustrating the problem of plugs with sleeved pins.
Loophole in BS 1363
There is a problem in BS 1363 which allows extension sockets to be manufactured with the earth hole placed too close to the edge. Most multi-way portable socket outlets exploit this loophole and permit the insertion of an inverted plug into the earth pin only, thus opening the shutters of the current carrying contacts. This is a clear danger as can be seen from these photos.
It is to be hoped that this oversight will be corrected at the next revision of BS 1363. Until then it is important to ensure that children are not allowed access to this type of extension.