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Shock at level of online traders failing basic electrical safety requirements

Energy Safety is alarmed at the level of online traders failing to ensure their electrical products are safe – and hopes $33,000 in fines will send a clear message.

All traders, including those using popular online auctions sites, must comply with basic safety rules when selling electrical products, like chargers and plug adaptors.

An Energy Safety audit1 of 50 professional Trade Me traders found that 90 per cent had not taken any steps to establish the safety of the chargers and power supplies they were selling. On further enquiry, 70 per cent could not produce any evidence that their products were safe. Energy Safety has, as a result, fined 23 traders a total of $33,000 and warned a further 15.

Energy Safety Compliance Officer Richard Lamb said too many online traders were failing their responsibilities to their customers.

"Chargers and power supplies are used throughout our homes and workplaces to power laptops, phones and other devices. Their safety is something people take for granted.

"The failure of traders to comply with even the most basic of safety rules is careless and puts people and property at unnecessary risk."

Mr Lamb said many of the chargers were supplied with plug adaptors, which lack sufficient protection from contact with live parts.

“With these adaptors used at skirting board level and accessible by infants and young children, the dangers are too great for traders to ignore their responsibilities.”

Mr Lamb encouraged online auction site users to take simple steps when purchasing electrical products. "Buyers should be cautious when shopping online and stick with reputable suppliers who can demonstrate safety with ease. Buyers can also ask for a supporting Supplier Declaration that shows how the charger or power supply meets a recognised safety standard."

Enforcement against non-compliant traders would continue, Mr Lamb warned. “Energy Safety regularly monitors online auction sites and will take action against traders who fail to comply with electrical safety regulations.

“Traders could also find themselves liable for costs if an unsafe electrical product was to cause a fire and, in the event of a fatality, may face more serious charges.

“The rules are simple, traders must ensure all new and used electrical products are safe before they’re offered for sale,” Mr Lamb said.

If sellers have any doubts, they should seek professional advice and visit www.energysafety.govt.nz for information on supplying safe electrical products. Energy Safety is the government agency responsible for encouraging the safe supply and use of electricity and gas.


TradeMe Audit Media Release [30 kB, PDF, 1 page]


For more information contact

Alastair Stewart, Communications Advisor
Ministry of Economic Development
Ph: 04 470 2508
Email: alastair.stewart@med.govt.nz.


1Figures supplied by Trade Me show 25,000 members sold about 1,000,000 power supplies and chargers in 2010. Of these, 1000 members sold 100 items or more. Our audit of 50 members was a representative sample of these 1000 members, who we consider to be professional traders.