How PAT Testing can help spot counterfeit electrical devices

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Have you ever purchased an electrical product online? Did you believe it was coming from a legitimate seller only to have obvious fake goods arrive on your doorstep?

A report from Electrical Safety First stated that in the UK the counterfeit electrical goods market is worth approximately £1.3bn.

Statistics show 1 in 3 UK residents have purchased a counterfeit product online after believing it to be a legitimate make. More worryingly 1 in 7 have suffered damage or loss as a result of counterfeit electrical goods.

There is plenty of supporting evidence from consumers who have encountered counterfeit electrical equipment and the safety problems that have occurred because of them. With more people shopping online than ever before – including a large spike due to the 2020 pandemic, illegitimate goods are almost unavoidably encounterable across the internet, whether shopping in online marketplaces, dedicated websites or even on social media.

Websites selling fake products generally look like the real deal, or at least the advertising imagery does, leading to a large number unwittingly purchasing counterfeits – none the wiser until they arrive in the post. Illegitimate electrical goods are often of sub-standard quality. They are often not put through the same rigorous safety checks as legitimate items leading to the many injuries and fires, we see repeated again and again in reviews. And in some cases, even fatalities.

Tips to avoid buying fake electrical products:

Buying cheap fake electrical often seems like good deal. But the simple truth is you’re playing roulette with your health & safety. So, the first step to avoiding illegitimate goods is to follow the rule: ‘if it seems too good to be true, it probably is’.

Additionally, always attempt to buy devices from reliable sellers. If you’re unsure if a seller is legitimate check their reviews or look for an alternative. Furthermore, we would suggest, in relation to electrical goods, to check for assurance that the product complies with UK Safety Standards.

There are a few simple signs to identify that the product is not legitimate.

A place to start is to search for the quality marks. The first of which is the BSI Kitemark. This is the exclusive identification of the British Standard Institution (BSI). As well as being an internationally recognised quality mark. Check the logo on the website to the mark on the device, are they the same?

Secondly, CE marking is required for electrical products if they are sold within the EU or member states of the EEA. However, it has been discovered that some Chinese manufacturers are using the replica of the CE mark on their counterfeit products.

Please double check closely. A change often noticed is that the Chinese forgery will have the C & E characters much closer together than they would usually sit.

How you can stay safe:

Periodically PAT testing equipment in your home or business locations will help you prevent against injuries. PAT testing is one of the most reliable ways to identify counterfeit products.

PAT – or Portable Appliance Testing – is a set of external and internal checks to make sure electrical appliances are safe to use. Once satisfied an appliance is safe, we will apply a ‘passed safety check’ sticker. Giving you peace of mind against risks such as fire, electric shocks or burns.

Unsure what steps to take if you suspect a fake electrical product? Firstly, we highly advise you stop using it immediately. Following this, please report the counterfeit to Trading Standards. They will investigate the seller.

It is illegal to knowingly sell fake products. They pose genuine risk of injury or fatality to those who purchase them.

What’s next?

If you have any questions or are interested in PAT services, please contact us.

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