Tough new regulations are needed to protect consumers from unsafe goods bought online, a campaign group has said as the countdown to Black Friday and Christmas begins.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) which fights for the rights of people injured due to negligence, has called on the Government to clamp down on online market places when unsafe goods or products that do not comply with safety standards in the UK are sold to unwitting customers.
APIL has called for the tighter controls in a response to an Office of Product Safety & Standards UK product safety review. Shoppers are set to spend millions on Black Friday on 24 November, and Cyber Monday on 27 November when festive shopping begins for many.
“As we head into the countdown to Christmas, billions of pounds will be spent by families on presents for loved ones. They should be able to shop online and know the item they have bought is fit for purpose, and there won’t be disappointment - or worse an injury - on December 25th.
“But this is not always the case and some customers will end up with toys and gifts that are unsafe, with the potential to cause serious injury,” said APIL executive committee member Pauline Roberts.
“Imagine you bought a soft toy online, which says it is suitable for babies, but it turns out to have unsafe buttons that could easily fall off and be swallowed by a youngster. The consequences could be devastating,” she said.
“Often items for sale on online market places involve complex supply chains and are being sold by third parties, which makes it a minefield for customers seeking redress when things go wrong,” Pauline explained.
“We want the Government to give customers statutory rights by introducing ‘joint and several liability’ laws which would make online market places equally liable, along with the manufacturers of products, for items sold on their sites when something goes wrong.
“And regardless of where a product originally came from, it should be subject to the laws of the country where the customer lives. This would mean a product bought by a customer in England would be subject to English law, which is not the case at the moment,” she said.