A NEW online tool has been designed to help protect shoppers from buying “dangerous” products from third party sellers on eBay and Amazon.
The Check It Out plugin can be downloaded to the Google Chrome browser for free and will notify you when you’re looking at products that aren’t sold by major retailers.
It’s been designed by consumer charity Electrical Safety First following an investigation, which found that 14 out of 15 copycat products sold by third party sellers on marketplaces were harmful.
Once you’ve downloaded the tool from the Chrome Web Store, you will need to give it permission to read Amazon and eBay.
When you first use it, a big pink banner will appear above a listing when you click through to find out more information about a product that is sold on Amazon Marketplace or by third party sellers on eBay.
From then on, a small pink square tab with a white basket and a pink exclamation mark on it will appear on the main image of a listing.
If you hover over the icon, a warning message will pop up which reads: “This product is sold by a third party and not Amazon [or eBay].”
It’s worth pointing out that the banner won’t appear on the official Amazon and eBay pages for goods sold by major retailers.
The charity says online marketplaces should be doing more to stop the sale of potentially harmful products through their sites.
A survey by ESF which found that 44 per cent of consumers said they couldn’t tell the difference when they were buying something from Amazon directly or a third-party seller on its Marketplace.
How to spot a fake
SHOPPERS should follow Electrical Safety First guidelines before parting with their cash online in order to spot a fake:
- Do check the price – If it’s a bargain and the price is too good be true, then it probably is.
- Don’t trust images – Seeing is not believing. Do not trust that the image displayed on the advert is a true representation of the product you will receive.
- Do look for contact details – If the seller’s contact details are not supplied, or there is a just a PO Box, be wary; many fake electrical goods are manufactured overseas, where they will not be safety tested and are produced as quickly and cheaply as possible.
- Don’t rely on reviews – Previous happy customers may not be aware they have purchased a substandard or counterfeit item. Reviews will be based on the product working at one point in time, rather than the potential safety risks it poses.
- Do buy from a reputable retailer – by buying your electrical products from reputable retailers, or directly from the manufacturer, you can be assured you’re buying the real thing.
Of course, just because the warning icon pops up doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong with the product, and the plugin won’t stop you from making a purchase if you want to.
Martyn Allen, technical director of ESF, said: “The world of online shopping can be a minefield, and we recognise that it isn’t always clear who consumers are buying from when using online marketplaces.
“Our new tool, Check It Out, hopes to provide better clarity as to the type of seller you’re dealing with.”
On third-party sellers, Amazon previously told The Sun that the site uses “industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products” from being listed, while eBay said it uses “block filter algorithms”.