Two-thirds of 250 products bought from online marketplaces failed safety tests, consumer groups find.
Six consumer groups from the BEUC network tested 250 toys, electrical goods, cosmetics and other products bought from online marketplaces such as Amazon, AliExpress, eBay and Wish. They selected the products based on possible risks and found that 66% of them fail EU safety laws with possible consequences such as electric shock, fire or suffocation.
The products failed safety tests because of a diverse range of issues. These include toys that contain chemical levels 200 times over the limit. 29 toys were tested for phthalates, chemicals used to make toys soft and supple. As some phthalates are suspected to disrupt hormones, they are not allowed to be present in toys for children under three years old and only to a certain limit for older children. Nine toys nevertheless breached these limits, with some even up to 200 times over the maximum allowed.
Although online marketplaces often seem to take down products when informed, they too often reappear. One of the major problems is that marketplaces do not consider themselves to be liable for the safety of products sold on its platforms and therefore do not always sufficiently control the trustworthiness of sellers upfront.
Monique Goyens, director general of The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), said: “Consumer group tests show that shopping online isn’t as safe as in the offline world. The simple reason is that marketplaces fail to prevent dangerous products from appearing on their sites. If you take smoke detectors that can’t detect smoke as an example, it’s easy to see how this might have disastrous consequences.”
She added: “Consumer groups have repeatedly flagged unsafe products after which marketplaces have taken the listing down. But this can’t become a modus operandi to keep consumers safe, as similar or new dangerous products reappear. It’s time the EU makes online marketplaces liable for dangerous products sold on their sites, and that authorities place them under greater scrutiny. This should make marketplaces more cautious in the future and would prevent consumers from being exposed to unsafe products in the first place – the most effective way of protecting them.”