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Unsafe smoke alarms sold online could ‘put lives at risk’, Which? warns | UK News

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Four makes of smoke alarm being sold online have completely failed to work in testing by consumer group Which?.

The alarms were purchased on eBay and Wish by the watchdog, three of which carried a CE safety standards mark.

All of them were unbranded, made in China and sold through Chinese re-sellers.

Two of the alarms came with instructions that were not in English, meaning that they could not be lawfully sold in the UK.

Which? said it was “disturbing” that three of the alarms carried CE marks, which offered false reassurance to consumers and suggested they had met all safety standards.

However a series of tests suggested that the alarms would be “useless” in a real fire and could put lives at risk.

Following the consumer group’s testing, eBay removed listings for the four alarms.

The faulty alarms being sold online could put lives at risk, Which? have said
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The faulty alarms being sold online could put lives at risk, Which? have said

Which? has since urged eBay and Wish to contact everyone who has purchased the products to alert them and to explain how they can get their money back.

Natalie Hitchins, head of home products at Which?, said it is “extremely concerning” that eBay and Wish are listing smoke alarms that do not work.

She said: “eBay and Wish must take the safety of their customers more seriously and stop these alarms from getting on to their sites in the first place.

“eBay customers will be shocked to find that listings for some unsafe alarms simply reappear on the site after being removed.

Ms Hitchins added that the safety of products bought on some online marketplaces is becoming “an increasing concern”.

eBay said in a statement: “The listings flagged by Which? have been removed and the sellers informed.

The four alarms accounted for 171 of the cheapest 500 listings for smoke detectors on eBay
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The four alarms accounted for 171 of the cheapest 500 listings for smoke detectors on eBay

“The safety of customers is our number one priority and we work closely with bodies such as Trading Standards to ensure listings sold on our marketplace comply with the law.”

A spokesperson for Wish said: “As a marketplace with more than two billion products, we look to our community to help us ensure that our products are up to the standard that customers expect.

“We are grateful to Which? for alerting us to this issue and looking out for the needs of the consumer.

“We are working to remove these products from the platform and are following up with the merchants in question to ensure they are adhering to local laws and regulations.”

The watchdog found that the four alarms accounted for 171 of the cheapest 500 listings for smoke detectors on eBay, while 28 out of 200 listings were for three of the alarms on Wish.

Which? noted that this was not the first time it had alerted eBay to faulty alarms.

In 2018, ebay removed 100 listings for smoke alarms which appeared identical to a product that failed seven out of eight fire tests conducted by Which?.

However in May, the watchdog discovered 60 listings for what appeared to be the same alarm among the cheapest 500 listings on the site.

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