This year's must have toy may give you a very nasty surprise for Christmas with Trading Standards warning that 88% of Hoverboards entering the UK are defective

Self-balancing scooters (hoverboards) have become all the rage.

The demand for this year’s most coveted gift has led to an influx of cheap and potentially unsafe models on to the market. Trading Standards have warned that over 88% of the hoverboards entering the UK are defective and over 15,000 items have been seized since October 2015.

Faulty electrical components mean that some hoverboards may overheat and catch on fire or even explode. Different parts of the products such as chargers, cabling and batteries failed to meet British safety standards.

Many of the seized products had non-compliant plugs without fuses and cut-off switches that failed when tested. There are specific concerns about those that are manufactured with lithium batteries, which continue to charge when they are full, and subsequently overheat.

This is an issue affecting more than just one single brand on sale both in stores and online. The majority of defective hoverboards are models that have been imported and do not meet strict EU safety standards.

However, there have also been concerns regarding boards sold through well known national retailers. Halfords have issued safety notices and have recalled its own-brand model, the Air Runner Balance Board. It is believed that the mains plug and charger of the Air Runner Balance Board did not meet British safety standards.

Costco have also issued a safety notice for the Air Runner hoverboards sold in their UK stores. There are a real safety risks surrounding these products that could result in financial loss and severe injury.

If you simply must have one; be vigilant:

  • Only buy products with three pin plug.
  • Check that the plug states it is made to BS1363. If it does not include this information do not buy it.
  • Only buy products with a plug that has FUSED stamped on it.
  • Do not purchase models with a clover shaped plug.
  • Be cautious of under-priced items – less than £300.
  • Only buy from a reputable retailer.
  • Check the authenticity of any website you purchase gifts from (a google search will do the job).
  • There will usually be an “about us” page on a website that sets out their office location and should provide a landline number.
  • Report any concerns to the Citizens Advice helpline on 03454 04 05 06
  • Remember it is illegal to ride them on the roads or pavement in England and Wales.

Know your rights over the Christmas period: 5 key points

  1. Where possible pay for items over £100 with a credit card, even it is just a deposit.
  2. If something does go wrong you can rely on section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and pursue the credit card provider.
  3. You have 14 days from the date of making an online order to cancel the order. You then have 14 days to return the goods.
  4. If an item develops a fault within the first 6 months you may request a repair or replacement. The law presumes the item was faulty when you bought it.
  5. You have 30 days to return a faulty item and request a refund. - If you have to complain because something is wrong with a product remember the shop that sold it is responsible (if it causes injury then others may also be).