Havering Trading Standards warn shoppers of unsafe online bargains
- Credit: Archant
Shoppers hunting for festive bargains have been warned to watch out for counterfeit goods, which could damage their health and even put lives at risk.
Trading Standards officers seize thousand of counterfeit and unsafe goods each year and I visited the storage facility where they are kept.
Many of the items in the room, which would be worth thousands of pounds if genuine, will be incinerated in the next few weeks. They have been kept for six years in case they are needed in prosecution cases.
This year counterfeit phone chargers and fake GHD straighteners, which can catch fire or melt if left plugged in, continue to be popular among counterfeit traders. In contrast officers are seeing less fake designer perfumes.
But, the items in this room suggest anything that can be copied, will be. Counterfeit cigerettes, jumpers, jewellery, handbags and toys fill the shelves.
Sasha Taylor, the council’s Trading Standards specialist and an enforcement officer, said the best way to check if goods are genuine is to identifying an authenticating indicator – for GHD straighteners this is a registration number – which replicas don’t have.
“The best piece of advice is to buy things from reputable traders and be particularly wary when shopping online because there is always a risk,” Mrs Taylor said.
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For the Trading Standards team “safety is the more important than anything else,” Mrs Taylor added.
She told the Recorder her team has been “extremely vigilant” in monitoring the sale of hoverboards, expected to be a best seller this Christmas.
But, despite more than 15,000 unsafe hoverboards being seized at British borders – so far, none have been reported in the borough.
The Trading Standards enforcement team traces unsafe goods bought online to their owners, sends samples back to the brand for testing and organises raids to premises where they suspect counterfeit goods are being sold.
Recently, the team found 3,000 counterfeit cigarettes in a shop in Elm Park.
The cigarettes which had not been registered to be sold in the UK, also constitute a health hazard because they are not self-extinsguishable and are often the cause of house fires.
Counterfeit Glens Vodka “can make people go blind” while the paint used in a child’s car or fake makeup can contain lead, which is poisonous for the skin.
Although safety risks are often linked to counterfeit goods, some products are simply replicas of popular branded goods such as Bose headphones, ToyWatch timepieces and Louis Vuitton handbags.
Part of Mrs Taylor’s job is to identify counterfeit and unsafe items, often from spelling mistakes or fake labelling.
In the past, clothes have been defaced and given to charity but the teams focus is protecting the public and the manpower required is too scarce for this to be done regularly.