Balance scooters and hoverboards are particularly popular this year. If they are on your child’s wish list this year, then here are some tips from The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission on how to make sure your new hoverboard is genuine and safe:
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It’s really important when purchasing hoverboards and other similar devices that you only buy products which can be verified as meeting required standards. The main issues arise around potentially unsafe plugs and fuses as well as significant issues with the cables, chargers and the battery packs. Should the AC adapter/charger or the battery pack overheat, they could cause a fire.
Fears over unsafe hoverboards are creating a big challenge so near to Christmas with thousands being seized at ports in Ireland and UK, and with airlines in the United States now refusing to carry them due to concerns over batteries and fire risk.
NB Hoverboards are also referred to as Balance Scooters, Self-balance Scooters, Balance Wheels, Airboards and Oxboards.
If you have been thinking of buying a Hoverboard
#1. Look for proof that it meets required safety standards
Given the potential dangers, don’t buy one of these devices without proof that it meets the required safety standards.
#2. Always check for a CE Mark
Do look for a CE mark but don’t rely on it solely, as the mark may be a fake. The CE marking should be visible and easily legible.
This indicates that the product meets Irish and European safety standards.
#3. Check that traceable information on manufacturer or importer is there
Check the box, charger and the device for markings or traceable information; such as the name and contact details of the manufacturer and/or importer. If this information is missing, do not buy the item.
#4. Take a look at the provided manual
Check the manual provided with the product for spelling mistakes and information or instructions which do not make sense.
#5. If buying online look for signals that the website or seller are genuine.
If you are buying a board online or on social media, check for online reviews which seem genuine and for information about the company’s head office and landline number. Sites that have spelling mistakes in the product listing, or those without any positive testimonials can be an indication that it is not a professional operation.
#6. Be wary of buying from someone you don’t know
Be wary of buying these products on social media or a website from someone you don’t know. You may be at risk of buying something which is very unsafe from an unscrupulous trader or unsuspecting consumer. Remember also that if you buy from another consumer/private seller, your consumer rights do not apply.
#7. If not satisfied, don’t buy
If you are not fully satisfied that the product you are buying is safe, don’t spend your money on it.
If you have already bought a Hoverboard
If you are not sure on safety standards then the Commission gives the following advice.
Hoverboard bought from an on-premises trader/shop
- Bring it back to the retailer and look for written proof that the product meets the required safety standards. If this cannot be given to you, ask for a refund.
- Because of the potential risk of fire, never leave a Hoverboard charging unattended, especially overnight.
Hoverboard bought online
- If you have ordered a Hoverboard and have not yet received it you can cancel it immediately without providing any reason, in writing (an email will suffice).
- If you have received it – you have 14 days from the date of receipt of the product to cancel your contract in writing without providing any reason and a further 14 days to return the item. You may be required to pay for returning the product but you are entitled to a refund for the cost of the item.
- However, where you have not received information on your right to cancel from the trader you will not be liable for the return costs of the goods.
If you come across any products which you think might be unsafe
- In Ireland, you can call the consumer helpline in Ireland on 1890 432 432 and let them know who was selling it and where.
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission in US can be contacted here
- Here’s where to report concerns to Trading Standards in the UK
- Australian Consumer Protection website
Just a final reminder, if you have already bought a hoverboard and are happy with the safety, then still don’t leave them charging unattended. Better safe than sorry!
The CCPC website has further information about hoverboards as well as product safety and toy safety.