Making a Black Friday list? Check it twice, advise the experts

Tue 22 Nov, 2016

Research carried out by Electrical Safety First reveals that an estimated nine million UK consumers have bought 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 of all counterfeit electrical purchases taking place online. Electrical Safety First'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.

One in five of these shoppers admit to spending absolutely no time assessing whether an electrical item is genuine, and over half presume that electrical items that they see for sale online are genuine. 

Additionally, some people are knowingly buying fake electrical items. One in six 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 the item was difficult to find due to high demand. 

Electrical Safety First's Emma Apter 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.”

Richard Priest, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's community safety team, said: "Fake electrical products appear more convincing than ever, but they can contain less than half the internal components required to run safely. Remember, if a bargain looks too good to be true, the chances are it probably is.”

Following these tips to 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. Beware of "too good to be true" prices.
  • Check that voltage is 230-240V, 50Hz, and that products are fitted with a three-pin UK plug or charger.
  • When buying online, 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 - 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  

All research results unless otherwise stated are from Censuswide. Total sample size was 2,007 adults, and fieldwork took place from 4 to 7 November 2016. Surveys were conducted across the United Kingdom and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.