Safety test: 66% of products from non-EU shops fail

March 2, 2020 by
Nico Hoeijmans

Six European consumers' associations conclude that two-thirds of products bought on non-EU online marketplaces fail safety tests. The investigated marketplaces in this extensive research are AliExpress, Amazon, eBay, LightInTheBox and Wish.

For more than a year, European consumers' associations from Belgium (Test Aankoop), Denmark (Forbrugerrådet Tænk), Germany (Stiftung Warentest), Italy (Altroconsumo), the Netherlands (Consumentenbond) and the United Kingdom (Which) ordered a total of 250 products.

The products were ordered from one of the five marketplaces and tested to see if the products meet safety requirements. Out of the 250 products examined, 165 (66%) did not pass relevant safety tests.

Examined products could be categorised. The consumers' associations put 18 different product types through different kinds of sets. These have let to clear results. Amongst others: seven out of seven carbon monoxide alarms and eleven out of twelve travel adaptors led to a safety test failure. 90% of Christmas lights do not meet safety requirements.

Safety Test Fails.

Some products malfunctioned. Example give: smoke and CO alarms did not detect smoke or carbon monoxide while USB chargers and travel adaptors could cause a fire. Almost 75% of power banks showed problems, like overheating, shocking, melting or causing a fire. Christmas lights could give consumers an electric shock or cause a fire. Two sets melted the control cabinet. Teeth-whitening products with too much hydrogen peroxide were found, as well as cosmetics sold without their ingredients listed and kids’ clothes with choke hazards.

At the moment, online marketplaces are not responsible for the safety of items listed and sold on their platform. They also are not responsible for removing unsafe products from sales. Nor do they inform consumers when something goes wrong with a product.

Consumers' Associations request changes

The involved European consumers' associations demand changes to make sure consumers are protected when buying products from these marketplaces online. First, they want online marketplaces to make sure offered products are safe. Second, they want them to clarify the steps an online marketplace should take when unsafe products are identified. Third, enforcement officers should have the powers, resources, investigatory skills and intelligence to police online marketplaces and their supply networks. Finally, greater transparency obligations are wanted so consumers can clearly see who they are buying from.

In the current situation, the Dutch Consumentenbond goes as far as advising to not buy clothes, jewellery, cosmetics, toys or electronic devices through non-EU platforms.

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