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Making a Black Friday list? Check it twice, advises Electrical Safety First

23rd November 2016


Watch out for fake and substandard goods in Electrical Fire Safety Week


New research carried out by Electrical Safety First reveals that an estimated nine million UK consumers[i] have purchased a fake electrical product as a Christmas gift in the past. As this Black Friday’s retail bonanza encourages people to shop for a festive bargain, the Charity is reminding people to watch out for fake electrical products as they present a serious fire risk.


Online retailers account for the majority of counterfeit purchases, with three in five[ii] of all counterfeit electrical purchases taking place online. The Charity’s research showed that UK consumers are more likely to use online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay than buy directly from trusted retailers’ websites[iii]. One in five[iv] of these shoppers admit to spending absolutely no time assessing whether an electrical item is genuine and over half[v] presume that electrical items that they see for sale online are genuine.


Additionally, some people are knowingly buying fake electrical items. One in six[vi] consumers say they would consider buying a product they suspected was fake if it was cheaper than the original. Ten per cent said that they would buy a suspected fake if under pressure to buy it by a certain date or if it was difficult to find due to high demand.

Emma Apter, Head of Communications at Electrical Safety First, said: 

“Ahead of Black Friday’s shopping frenzy, we’re reminding shoppers that among the genuine electrical items on special offer, there are dangerous fake electrical products to look out for. If you are shopping online, the best way to make sure that your electrical gift is safe is to buy from an official online retailer. When you buy a fake, at best you’re being swindled but at worst you could be putting your life at risk.”

As part of the Fire Kills Campaign, Group Manager Stuart Simpson added:

We would like to urge shoppers in North Yorkshire to take the time to check that the products they are buying are genuine. Fake electrical products appear more convincing than ever, but they can contain less than half the internal components required to run safely. So, while there will be a lot of demand for this year’s “must have” Christmas gifts, remember that if a bargain looks too good to be true, the chances are it probably is”.

Electrical Safety First and the Fire Kills campaign have the following tips to help shoppers avoid dangerous fake and substandard electrical products:


  • Buy electrical products from reputable retailers, this way you can be assured you’re buying the real thing.
  • Check prices and shop around! Check online shops and if possible, visit the high street. If a bargain looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Check that voltage is 230-240V, 50Hz and that products are fitted with a three-pin UK plug or charger
  • Look for the padlock symbol at the bottom of the screen when you are filling in your payment details.
  • Beware glowing reviews, especially if the reviewers aren’t verified.
  • Beware of words qualifying an item’s authenticity, if the seller claims the product is ‘genuine’, ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ double check the source. Most reputable retailers don’t need to sell their products like this.
  • Look for the seller’s contact details, for online marketplaces. Look for a full address and not just a PO Box number.  Not all websites with a address are based in the UK
  • Read product guarantees, terms and conditions, and returns policies before you buy

For more information on how to spot a fake, including after you’ve bought it, visit  



  Editors’ Notes

  •  Electrical Safety First is a UK Charity dedicated to reducing and preventing damage, injuries and death caused by electricity. More information can be found at
  • All research results unless otherwise stated are from Censuswide. Total sample size was 2007 adults and fieldwork took place from 4th to 7th November 2016. Surveys were conducted across the United Kingdom and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.


[i] 17% of total population of over 16s in UK (52,852,169) said that they had bought an electrical product as a Christmas gift that was fake

[ii] Ipsos MORI, 2016, 60% of all purchases of counterfeit electrical products took place online

[iii] 57% buy on online marketplaces, 48% buy from online retailers.

[iv] 20% of people surveyed

[v] 51% (of base of 308) of people who said that they would not check a product was genuine if the product was selling quickly

[vi] 16% of people surveyed


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