Posted 16th Jul 2019

MPs debate safety of online sales of electrical products

16th July 2019 - 15:22pm
kitchen, mp, parliament, house of commons, electrical, online, sale, retail, product, amazon, ebay, facebook,whirlpool corporation, fire, risk, fault, recall, tumble dryer, government, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – BEIS – Committee, mp, kbb,

MPs recently held a debate on the issue of safety and regulation of online sales of electrical products, with Labour MP for Swansea East Carolyn Harris, pictured, calling on big online retailers such as Amazon and eBay to improve their processes for selling electrical goods to the public.

“I will always remember the words of an Amazon executive who sat in my office and, when challenged, said, ‘We are just a landlord’, washing the company’s hands of all responsibility,” Harris told fellow MPs in the House of Commons.

“So far as I am concerned, Amazon is totally disengaged, showing a complete disregard for consumer rights, safety and the work of the Office for Product Safety and Standards. The Minister [Kelly Tolhurst] needs to tackle these online platforms, just as she has tackled Whirlpool in recent weeks.”

Second-hand sales
Harris said the sale of second-hand electrical goods “terrifies” her, and noted that she saw “numerous” listings of tumble dryers that are on Whirlpool’s recently published full list of unsafe models on Amazon, Facebook and eBay.

“The Minister [Tolhurst, pictured right] needs to take immediate action to stop these sites selling recalled models. Will she commit to an immediate review of the list, and to stopping those online platforms selling those machines?

“Will she also commit to enforcement action against any company allowing the placement of unsafe products on the market? As Electrical Safety First highlighted in its briefing to MPs for the debate, many sites sell recalled and substandard electrical goods.”

Tolhurst responded: “Where products on the list are being sold by online platforms, our enforcement bodies such as OPSS [Office for Product Safety and Standards] or Trading Standards – whoever is available or appropriate to deal with it – should absolutely ensure that they are removed from sale.”

'Job not done'
She added: “I want to reiterate that this is ‘job not done’. This is about how we evolve in a changing market and ensure that importers, manufacturers and marketers place safe products on the market. The onus is on the companies to ensure that they place safe products on the market.

“We will do all we can to ensure that we continue to monitor products and try to protect consumers as best we can. That is something that I feel very strongly about.”

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – BEIS – Committee has also launched an online survey to “hear from Whirlpool customers about problems they may have experienced with their defective tumble-dryers and also on whether they may have been approached to sign confidentiality clauses or non-disclosure agreements – NDAs – in compensation cases”.

The survey was launched ahead of a BEIS Committee evidence hearing – set to take place on the 23rd July – with Tolhurst, who is the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, and the OPSS.

Click here to read more about the Whirlpool fire-risk tumble dryer case

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