Scotland has a serious problem with fake electrical items. Glasgow’s enforcement agencies have seized nearly 10,000 fake electronic goods since 2010, or more than any other enforcement agency in the UK, and a recent poll by the Scottish Government revealed that 90% of people in Scotlanddon’t associate fake and counterfeit items with associated crime.
However, Scotland is not an anomaly – across the UK, the number of counterfeit goods seized by enforcement agencies has risen substantially in recent years, with the value of seized goods jumping from £2.6 million in 2009 to £15.7 million in 2012.
Although fake appliances are far more likely to break down than their legitimate counterparts, consumer’s bank balances aren’t the only thing that could be damaged through dodgy electronics. Nearly two-thirds of all house fires in Scotland have an electrical origin, and electrical products are a major factor in these home emergencies.
Recently, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and charity Electrical Safety First hosted a dinner debate to highlight the dangers posed by dodgy electrical items. This debate is particularly pertinent, as although consumer protection standards are currently administered by Westminster’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, this power may soon devolve to Holyrood.
Other attendees to the debate include:
- Citizens Advice Scotland
- The Scottish Business Resilience Centre
- Trading Standards Scotland
Electrical Safety First Director General Phil Buckle explained that, although substandard electronics are not necessarily counterfeit, many counterfeit items are faulty or substandard.
This issue “needs to be addressed”, he argued, highlighting the safety risks these items pose and the number of fires electrical items lead to.
A Trading Standards spokesperson recently said the number of complaints they have received relating to counterfeit electronics has risen, and warned people to be “very wary” when purchasing these products online.
They explained that major manufacturers typically do not sell their items through classified adverts and auction sites, but instead only from classified ads and auction sites.
Counterfeit goods have not been subject to quality control tests, unlike genuine items, and can be “extremely dangerous”, the spokesperson said, noting that they can catch fire, melt and overheat.
Electrical Safety First is holding other meetings with key stakeholders and MSPs in 2015 and will present its work around consumer protection during these meetings.
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