Dodgy dealer or safe seller?

We tend to think: If I can buy it for my child, it must be safe.

This is generally true for things you can buy from:

  • high street chains, including their online stores
  • the websites of big-name brands.

But it’s not necessarily true if you’re buying from an overseas seller on an online platform, that’s because they can use legal loopholes to evade their safety responsibilities.

In fact:

  • The factory that makes the product for them can get away without testing to see if it’s safe for your child (even if it’s a toy or a sleep product for your baby).
  • The seller can also get away without checking to see if it’s safe. They may even still sell you something that’s been removed from sale by the authorities (recalled) because it’s dangerous.

Check who you’re buying from

Don’t get caught out by dodgy dealers selling unsafe products on online platforms.

Think WHO and WHERE

Who are you buying from?

  • The online store of a high street chain?
  • The website of a big-name brand?
  • The manufacturer of a branded product?
  • A company you’ve never heard of?

Remember, not everything advertised on well-known online platforms is sold by that platform. And none of the platforms have an obligation to check that the products on their marketplace are safe. So think of it like a street market with lots of different traders rather than a supermarket or department store.

Where is the seller based?

  • Here in the UK?
  • Elsewhere in Europe?
  • Overseas, where UK safety standards may not apply?

Watch out! A UK PO Box may hide the fact a company is actually based overseas.

Has it been recalled?

Who would imagine you can buy a product for your child that’s so dangerous it has been recalled? But you can. Even on well-known online platforms.

The British Toy and Hobby Association found that, of 101 dangerous toys withdrawn from sale, 65 seemingly identical toys were still on sale a year later.

Check before you buy

91 types of toy were recalled in 2022.

These included toys with easy-access button batteries that can burn through a child’s food pipe, super-strong magnets that can rip through a child’s gut, overlong cords that can strangle and small parts that can choke.

So, before you buy something, check if it’s on the recall list:

  • Check our recalls page for the latest toys and other children’s products that are so dangerous they shouldn’t be on sale.
  • Or visit GOV.UK to see if problems have been spotted with something you’re thinking of buying.

Worried about something you’ve bought?

If you think you’ve bought something unsafe, please report it so action can be taken to protect other families.

Simply call:

  • Citizens Advice consumer helpline (England and Wales): 0808 223 1133
  • Citizens Advice consumer helpline (Welsh-speaking adviser): 0808 223 1144
  • Advice Direct Scotland helpline: 0808 164 6000
  • Northern Ireland Consumerline: 0300 123 6262. Or report your worries to your local district council.
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