Parents have been warned that children in the UK are at risk of death or serious injury from the sale of unsafe toys through various online marketplaces.
Health and safety experts from CE Safety say parents should ensure they are not buying cheap, unsafe or fake toys on the market, as there is an increasing trend towards unregulated sellers flooding online marketplaces.
Buying toys online is often the cheapest and easiest, but illegal toys can be very dangerous.
The British Toy and Hobby Association conducted a test on many toys sourced from online marketplaces, which has exposed the serious safety failures, with many posing a terrifying risk to children.
Among the breaches are toys with small parts that pose a choking hazard to under-3s, as well as small button batteries that could be easily removed by young children and could be fatal if swallowed.
A spokesperson for CE Safety said: “Responsible toy brands work tirelessly to adhere to health and safety standards, but there is a lack of regulation in popular online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.
“There are even counterfeit copies of genuine products, including Disney Frozen dolls, Elf on the Shelf, LOL Electric Princess Doll and a Harry Potter Movie Castle game.
“Parents often assume that a branded toy meets safety regulations, but this is often not the case. Many traders fail to provide safety warnings on products or traceable contact details.”
Tips to make sure toys bought online are safe
Traditional retailers are trusted
If parents don’t feel comfortable with buying online, they should go for peace of mind with a brand that is known and trusted. Most retailers now sell their stock online too and often they have more choice online than in their stores.
Research is key
Parents should search the company that makes the toy, and include the toy name in the online search. All toys that flouted Toy Safety Directive regulations in the British Toy & Hobby Association’s study were from third-party sellers. Never assume the marketplace has done any checks on these traders.
Check the reviews
While some reviews on product information can be unreliable and generated dishonestly, parents should try to assess who is responding, and pay particular attention to negative feedback that sounds very genuine. Customer feedback is vital in the research stage of buying a toy online.
Does the trader usually sell toys?
They should check the Amazon or eBay seller account and what their business focus is. If they don’t have a prior history of selling online toys then this could be a red flag. And again, check the reviews.
Check for a UK or EU address?
This should be listed somewhere on their site. Having an address is a legal requirement to sell toys in the UK. If parents can’t find their address then the seller is not accountable. And if they’re not accountable, what else are they not bothering to comply with?
Beware of the price
If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. The reason it might be cheaper is that it could be falling short of the standards required in the UK, with poor quality materials that may be unsafe. Quality testing and meeting the necessary safety regulations is costly to businesses, which is why genuine products can be more expensive to manufacture.
How to spot a counterfeit toy
If parents see the words ‘compatible with (brand name)’ on packaging or marketing, it could be that this product is posing as a genuine known brand.