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Dangerous electric blankets being sold online to UK shoppers

Using Electric Blanket in Winter during Energy Crisis
Eight of the 11 electric blankets Which? tested were poorly made, with many standard safety warnings missing. Photo: Getty

Electric blankets so poorly made that they risk giving the user an electric shock are being sold in to UK customers through online marketplaces.

Nine out of the 11 electric blankets, throws and shawls Which? bought from third-party sellers on AliExpress, Amazon, eBay and Wish cannot be sold legally in the UK because they are so badly made or have problems with the packaging, markings or instructions, the consumer body warned.

Three of the 11 electric blankets tested by Which? pose a potential electric shock hazard. The blankets that could give users an electric shock risks cost between £13 and £21 and all three were bought on AliExpress.

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The cheapest blanket had wires connecting the controller to the mains which were simply twisted together and covered in sealant, which served to hide a second-rate connection. The plug provided was the European two-pin variety and it came with a cheap and nasty UK adapter with pins much too close to the edge of the plug, which presents an electric shock risk.

Another electric blanket, also bought from a seller on AliExpress, this one for £21, had a dangerous cable, fuse and plug. A third one, bought for £18 on the same online marketplace, again had a dodgy and dangerous UK three-pin plug adapter that could lead to users getting an electric shock.

Another blanket bought on Wish had electric wires that could easily be pulled out with little force, a clear sign of the poor build quality, Which? found in its tests.

Eight of the 11 electric blankets Which? tested were poorly made, with many standard safety warnings missing and in some cases half of the instructions were not given in English. Nine of the products Which? assessed failed to include either a UKCA mark or a CE mark, which indicate compliance with safety standards.

Sue Davies, Which? head of consumer protection policy, said: “Electric blankets have surged in popularity as people look to save money during the cost of living crisis, but our latest research shows that buying these products cheaply on online marketplaces can put your safety at risk.

“The government must urgently act to give online marketplaces greater legal responsibility for unsafe and illegal products sold on their sites so that consumers are no longer put at unnecessary risk of harm.”

In addition to safety concerns, some of the products were incredibly inefficient. For example, in the cases of a Cenlang heated shawl, £12.99 on AliExpress, and an electric heated blanket poncho on eBay, £15.99, only 5% of the total surface area of the respective products were heated, the size of a sheet of A5 paper.

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Only two electric blankets out of 11 passed all of Which?’s tests. One on Amazon Marketplace, a 1Above double size heated blanket, bought for £27, and another on eBay, an electric heated throw bought for £22.

The nine dodgy electric blankets flagged by Which? have now been removed by the online marketplaces.

Which? urged the government to address major gaps in current product safety regulation which is “outdated” and does not account for the shift to online shopping.

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