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Don’t get burnt this summer: safety watchdog urges caution for consumers on sub-standard holiday products

Posted: 10/08/2020

On 7 August 2020, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) released a warning to consumers to be wary on their staycations this summer (see here). This follows the consumer product safety guidance published by the OPSS on 20 February 2020 (see here). With ongoing travel restrictions and holiday bookings in the UK at record levels, it follows that summer holiday items such as phone chargers, sunglasses, suntan lotion and even immersion heaters to heat up paddling pools will be in hot demand.

The OPSS is concerned that the increased demand could lead to cheap, low quality products on the market. In particular, the OPSS mentions the risk of pool immersion heaters and phone chargers not being manufactured to high standards, which could lead to fires or electrocution, or counterfeit sun-cream and sunglasses offering low or no protection.

The OPSS offers the following tips to consumers to ensure the safety and authenticity of the products they may be purchasing this summer:

  • Compare the price – products that appear nearly identical to brand names but for a fraction of the price are likely to be counterfeit.
  • Check the address on the product - poorly manufactured products may have no address or just a PO box number.
  • Examine the product - genuine products have standardised logos, fonts and colours. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors can also indicate fakes.
  • Check what’s missing - poorly manufactured electrical goods may be missing parts, or not have safety certification on the label. Check for product registration cards and the manual.
  • Check if the model numbers are as listed on the manufacturer’s website.

This advice reiterates some of the points made in the earlier guidance of 20 February 2020 from the OPSS. However, the publishing of this guidance does raise the question as to what has triggered the need to publish the advice. Is the OPSS just being cautious in anticipation of what it sees as a likely consequence of more people staying in the UK this year or have there been cases of these products already entering the market? If it is the latter, consumers will have to be more conscious and informed about the products they are purchasing this summer.

This article was co-written with James Mitchell, a trainee solicitor.

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