Trading Standards Officers have detained hoverboards/self balancing scooters at UK ports and borders due to a range of safety concerns with the plugs, cabling, chargers, batteries or the cut-off switches within the boards, which often fail. A faulty cut-off switch can lead to the device overheating, exploding or catching fire.
Fermanagh & Omagh District Council’s Environmental Health Officers have contacted local retailers to make them aware of these safety concerns and to advise them to ensure that any hoverboards which they have for sale comply with relevant safety standards.
Consumers who have purchased a hoverboard should request written assurance from the retailer that the product is safe and, in particular, that it has a compliant plug with a fuse.
National Trading Standards has also compiled top tips for consumers who have already purchased a hoverboard or considering buying one:
- Never leave the device charging unattended – especially overnight: a faulty cut-off switch (designed to stop the battery from continuing to charge once fully charged) or a plug without a fuse, as seen in many products detained so far, could lead to the device overheating, exploding or catching fire.
- Check the device: things to look out for include the shape of the plug – the first unsafe products identified often had a clover-shaped plug. Also check the device for markings or traceable information, such as the name and contact details of the manufacturer and/or importer.
If buying online, look closely at the website before you hit the ‘buy’ button:
- Try searching for reviews of the product or the seller – do these seem genuine?
- Are there lots of spelling or grammar mistakes on the site? This can be a clue that a business is not professionally run.
- See if you can find out where the company’s head office is based – and whether that fits with how the website presents itself.
- Do they have a landline number you can call if there are any problems? Bear in mind that if the company is based abroad, it can be more difficult to get a complaint dealt with or return a faulty product.
- Read the small print – notice if anything seems odd, repetitive or in incorrect English.
- Is there an ‘s’ at the end of the ‘http’ part of the web address, or is there a padlock symbol in the task bar? This means the website is using an encrypted system that keeps your details more secure.
Where retailers are unable to provide product safety assurance, consumers should ask for a refund. If consumers experience difficulties obtaining a refund they should contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.
Queries regarding product safety should be directed to Fermanagh & Omagh District Council’s Environmental Health Department on 0300 303 1777.