That’s according to research from the consumer group, Which?
Dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are being sold on eBay, Amazon, AliExpress and Wish, while the Government “fails to take the urgent action needed” to hold online marketplaces legally accountable, watchdog Which? has warned.
Which? said it found 149 listings for unsafe CO alarms across four online marketplaces, which had all subsequently been removed.
The only online marketplace that disclosed sales figures was eBay, which said that it had sold at least 1,311 of the alarms.
The five unsafe CO alarm models, all unbranded and made in China, featured prominently on the online marketplaces when listings were filtered by cheapest first, in some cases being sold for as little as £5.
One of the models, a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm, was first flagged to eBay by Which? seven years ago.
This year’s tests found the model failed to respond to carbon monoxide 10 times out of 28 tests, and was too quiet when it did sound.
Five of the cheapest 10 carbon monoxide alarms on eBay were for this model.
Which? found 88 sellers listing the same alarm on AliExpress, Amazon, eBay and Wish, with eBay sellers alone accounting for close to 600 sales.
Another unbranded CO and smoke alarm that failed to trigger 22 times when CO was in the air was listed by 22 eBay sellers, with 718 sales recorded.
Which? also found two sellers listing it on AliExpress.
A separate unbranded alarm which failed to sound in 15 carbon monoxide detection tests was available for sale from six sellers on Amazon and eBay.
In total, across the five alarms, Which? found 46 listings on AliExpress, 42 on eBay, 41 on Wish and 20 on Amazon.
Which? raised concerns that the Government’s update on its long-delayed product safety review last week did not confirm that an independent regulator would be given effective powers to crack down on unsafe products on online marketplaces “any time soon”.
Avril and Gordon Samuel, who set up the Katie Haines Memorial Trust in 2010 following the death of their daughter Katie, who died of CO poisoning at her home, said: “We have previously highlighted concerns about some carbon monoxide alarms being sold online, many coming from China, and campaigned vigorously about the need to purchase CO alarms only from reputable manufacturers and retailers.
Which? said online marketplaces also needed to do “much more to prevent unsafe product listings appearing in the first place, rather than removing these products reactively when a consumer champion like Which? flags them – especially since they appear to be unable to prevent them being relisted for sale”.
Sue Davies, Which? head of consumer protection policy, said: “Which? has been raising concerns about dangerous CO alarms for years, yet online marketplaces continue to allow them on their sites and into people’s homes, despite the potentially fatal consequences.
“This is the latest in a long line of examples of unsafe products being readily available on online marketplaces, with far too little action taken by the platforms to prevent them being allowed for sale.
“The Government cannot delay any longer. It must move at pace to establish new regulations that put consumer safety first and enable tough enforcement action against online marketplaces that break the rules.”
An Amazon spokesman said: “Safety is a top priority at Amazon. We require all products to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from being listed in our stores.
“We have removed these products pending further investigation.”
An eBay spokesman said: “We take the safety of our users very seriously and immediately removed the listings reported to us by Which?
“We prohibit unbranded and unsafe brands of smoke or carbon monoxide detectors. We only allow sellers to list approved brands of carbon monoxide detectors and have taken action against the sellers who breached this policy.
“We continuously review and update the measures in place to prevent the sale of unsafe products. We have also conducted further sweeps of our site to remove any similar listings.”
A Department for Business and Trade spokesman said: “We take public safety extremely seriously which is why we are consulting on modernising our product safety framework to hold online marketplaces to account, ensuring items sold online meet the same standards as on the high street.
“If businesses don’t comply with product safety regulations, the Office for Product Safety and Standards will take appropriate enforcement action such as ordering the removal of the product from the market.”