Wish.com has banned the sale of e-bike chargers and conversion kits, Electrical Safety First understands, yet concerns have been raised about the enforcement of the new policy.
Responding to a previous investigation conducted last year by the charity into unsafe e-bike chargers sold on its platform, Wish.com recently told the BBC’s consumer flagship show, Rip Off Britain, that: “Given the safety risks surrounding e-bike chargers, we took the decision to block the sale of e-bike chargers on our UK platform in May 2023.”
When approached for clarification by Electrical Safety First the online marketplace giant told the charity it has since extended the ban to all e-bike and e-scooter chargers as well as motor and conversion kits.
Whilst the development marks a pivotal change in policy by Wish, Electrical Safety First has raised concerns about its effectiveness after the charity found chargers and conversion kits still for sale on its marketplace.
Wish told the charity these examples “appear to have circumvented our filters due to incorrect tagging from our merchants.”
The shift in policy comes after an investigation by Electrical Safety First in September 2022 that identified nearly 60 listings of potentially dangerous and substandard e-bike and e-scooter chargers across Wish.com, Amazon Marketplace, eBay and AliExpress.
A further joint investigation in May 2023 by Electrical Safety First and The Guardian revealed the continued sale of dangerous e-bike chargers.
They revealed 15 such chargers across Amazon, eBay and Wish.com in a snapshot investigation.
As a result of both previous investigations, all marketplaces removed the dangerous listings.
Lesley Rudd, chief executive of Electrical Safety First said: “Whilst we commend Wish.com for being the first online marketplace to step forward to take proactive measures in an attempt to stop dangerous chargers entering people’s homes, unless enforced this will fail to protect shoppers.”
In June this year the charity published its report into fires linked to e-bike and e-scooter batteries, titled, Battery Breakdown.
The 56-page document offered nearly 30 recommendations for Government and industry to tackle fires, one of which includes a temporary ban on ‘universal chargers’ which can increase the risk of the wrong voltage being supplied to a battery, triggering a ferocious fire.
Rudd added: “The fact that chargers were still for sale reinforces the need for urgent changes to the law, strict enforcement and penalties. Voluntary action, whilst welcome, will not eliminate the need for legal change that must be introduced by Government.”
Last week the charity announced its Bill to tackle the issue, which it is seeking an MP to adopt in Parliament during this month’s Westminster Bill Ballot.
If adopted by an MP, the Bill would introduce third-party safety certification for all e-bikes, e-scooters and their batteries before they come onto the market, and temporarily ban the sale of ‘universal chargers’ whilst protocols are introduced to reduce the risk of the wrong voltage being supplied to a battery.
The Bill would also introduce markings on batteries to deter them from being disposed of in the general waste, which is another major cause of fire.
Wish.com is the first online marketplace to take such proactive measures to attempt to prevent the sale of dangerous e-bike and e-scooter chargers.
Rudd said: “Dangerous or substandard chargers can cause deadly fires if they supply an e-bike battery with the wrong voltage, triggering a catastrophic process called thermal runaway.
“Whilst this policy development by Wish.com is a positive step, ultimately the Government must bring forward legislation to make online marketplaces responsible for the safety of goods on their sites. Nothing less will suffice.”