eBay selling faulty smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, Which? finds

eBay has been accused of putting lives at risk by listing hundreds of faulty smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on its site.

By Claire Schofield
Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 1:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 1:49 pm

Consumer watchdog Which? discovered more than 140 listings for unbranded alarms that had failed previous safety tests, and that the auction site had already been warned about.

Faulty and dangerous

The Which? investigation said the devices that failed its gas detection tests accounted for 91 of the cheapest 200 carbon monoxide detectors listed on eBay's ‘Buy it now’ auctions.

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More than 140 listings for alarms that had failed previous safety tests were found on eBay

The devices that were unable to detect smoke comprised of 50 of the cheapest smoke alarm listings.

Almost half (50) of the ineffective carbon monoxide detectors were identical to the ones that the consumer watchdog warned eBay about three years ago, while more than three fifths (34) of the smoke alarms listed were for a device Which? had contacted the site about twice before - in 2018 and earlier this year.

Which? claimed that eBay had known “for years” that some of the products listed for sale on its site were unsafe.

eBay removed the listings for the dangerous products each time it was notified. However, there is no system in place to prevent sellers from re-listing the alarms and many have reappeared for sale, potentially putting lives at risk, Which? said.

Which? claimed that eBay had known “for years” that some of the products listed were unsafe

The auction site has since removed the 141 faulty alarm listings that Which? identified, all of which were unbranded.

Warning to households

The investigation also found smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that had failed safety tests listed on two other online marketplaces, AliExpress and Wish.

However, Amazon was found to have been more successful in tackling the problem, with faulty devices found during a 2016 investigation now all but non-existent on the site.

Only one faulty alarm was discovered on Amazon during the most recent check, which has since been removed from sale.

Which? is now urging other online marketplaces to "take the safety of their customers more seriously" and has handed its dossier to the Office for Product Safety and Standards.

Households that have any of the faulty alarms are being warned to stop using them immediately.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, told The Mirror, “It’s a scandal that - even after three years of warnings - eBay still can’t manage to get a grip on preventing potentially lethal products from being sold on its site.

“Other online marketplaces are just as bad. These platforms need to wake up and make the safety of their customers the top priority, with a much more rigorous approach to keeping these products out of people’s homes."