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TradeMe seller fined over 'high-risk' goods #189080 09/18/09 12:32 AM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,379
Trumpy Offline OP
It's about time someone was made an example of, with some of the sub-standard things that get listed on Trade-Me.

The story:
A TradeMe user has been convicted and fined for selling electrical plug adaptors on the internet auction website.

Palmerston North's Leigh Joe, 24, admitted breaching the electricity regulations by continuing to sell electrical products without first establishing their safety.

She was fined $500 plus $280 costs in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday.

Energy Safety, part of the Ministry of Economic Development, brought Joe to the attention of TradeMe in June 2008.

She was warned to stop selling appliances with non-approved plug adaptors.

She was banned from the auction site when she was again found to be listing the adaptors, believed to come from China.

"These products are considered high risk, presenting a hazard to anyone who uses them," Energy Safety said today.

"This is the first prosecution Energy Safety has taken against an online trader and is pleased with the result. We want on-line traders to realise that the same rules apply to them as everyone else selling electrical products," said Richard Lamb, energy safety compliance officer.

"This was not a small scale trader, they were supplying significant numbers of products. The conviction and fine sends a message to on-line traders that they have the same responsibilities as everyone else who supplies electrical products."

In the last 12 months Energy Safety has warned more than 50 TradeMe members, resulting in the removal of significant numbers of potentially unsafe electrical appliances from the market.

Link:Story at Stuff.

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Re: TradeMe seller fined over 'high-risk' goods [Re: Trumpy] #189197 09/23/09 12:47 PM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,491
Texas_Ranger Offline
Interesting enough, I once followed a German discussion about sub-standard adaptors. Usually the people on those German boards are extremely uptight about safety and listing/ code violation issues but faced with a cheap US/Euro power adaptor all they had to say was: "It's there to connect non-standard plugs, so it's not covered by our listings and code, nothing you can do about it." Basically they claimed there was no way of stopping the sale of such products within the EU.

Re: TradeMe seller fined over 'high-risk' goods [Re: Texas_Ranger] #189211 09/23/09 09:04 PM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,379
Trumpy Offline OP
Originally Posted by Texas_Ranger
Basically they claimed there was no way of stopping the sale of such products within the EU.

I find that very hard to believe, Ragnar, I was always under the impression that the EU had some of the toughest import laws in the world?

Slightly OT,
I bought a new Motorola cell-phone about a year ago and was at the phone shop having it demonstrated to me by one of the sales staff.
As she was unpacking the thing from the box, I noticed the charger had a UK plug on it. crazy

Now, had this not been a wall-wart set-up, it would have been a simple case of cutting the plug off and fitting an NZ one.

I said to the sales-person, that I needed a proper charger with a NZ plug on it, I was then told that I could go to the $2 store and get an adaptor.

No way, was pretty much my reply and said that unless I was going to get the proper thing, I would look elsewhere for a phone.

I eventually did get the proper charger and had the other one thrown in for "free" (not that it is of any great use to me).

Here it is below:

[Linked Image from]

There is no-where for a fuse on the body of this thing, which I thought was a requirement of the ring circuit system?

All bets are off as to where it is made. frown

Re: TradeMe seller fined over 'high-risk' goods [Re: Trumpy] #189215 09/23/09 11:47 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 223
aussie240 Offline
Originally Posted by Trumpy

There is no-where for a fuse on the body of this thing, which I thought was a requirement of the ring circuit system?

Actually there is a fuse, but it's inside, in the form of a PCB mounted fuse and/or fusible resistor. It would be just an added cost to include the usual 3A clip in fuse in the plug; anything that makes a fuse blow in a switchmode power supply means a chain reaction of dead semiconductors, which just replacing a fuse won't fix. The other thing is that the plug itself is not detachable and rewireable so would not be used with any other appliance.

Re: TradeMe seller fined over 'high-risk' goods [Re: aussie240] #189223 09/24/09 11:52 AM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,491
Texas_Ranger Offline
I'm not really sure how the reaction would be if someone actually sold equipment with a non-standard plug, the discussion I mentioned covered privately imported equipment with adaptors bought in Germany, and those sparkies claimed those travel related adaptors aren't covered by safety codes, so they can be traded freely.

Unlike in Australia/NZ I've yet had to see equpipment sold (new) with a foreign plug. Some foreign EBAY sellers include adaptors though when they sell to Germany. That (and stuff imported by people moving from somehwere else) is about the only way to get equipment with foreign plugs around here. Actually I was surprised when a Modem I bought new came with a US phone cord and RJ11-Austrian adaptor instead of a proper phone cord.

Travel adaptors sold here are usually scary. Designed to fit all kinds of plug, none fit safely. During my backpacking tour through Ireland I mostly saw adaptors that took NEMA 1-15, AS/NZ plugs, Euro and Schuko (of course without ground and a fuse nowhere in sight). Back in the old days, those adaptors were fairly unlikely to be used with grounded equipment (shavers and battery chargers usually don't have a ground, hair dryers are required to be double insulated and those are the most common travel items) but with laptops now commonly requiring a ground I certainly don't like those adaptors, even if they only pose a functional risk for the computer.

Re: TradeMe seller fined over 'high-risk' goods [Re: Texas_Ranger] #189228 09/24/09 05:39 PM
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,250
djk Offline
In Ireland there are laws covering the sale and supply of appliances, which require them to be fitted with a BS1363 (IS401) plug, or a permanently fitted adaptor which can only be removed by the use of a tool.

I see plenty of Schuko to BS1363 adaptors on sale in Ireland, but for some reason some retailers keep stocking adaptors which seem to be designed primarily for Swiss, Danish and Italian plugs!

They connect to CEE 7/7 plugs, but do not connect the earth.

The scariest ones I've seen are carried by American, Australian/NZ and Southeast Asian visitors i.e. flimsy multi-standard devices without fuses.

I think the EU should most definitely come up with locked down standards for connection between the handful of standards within the EU's borders.

i.e. there are only 4 systems in use:

CEE 7/7 - the de facto standard across the vast majority of countries.
BS1363 - UK, Ireland, Malta & Cyprus
Italian - Italy
Danish - Denmark

It's not THAT complicated!

Last edited by djk; 09/24/09 05:42 PM.
Re: TradeMe seller fined over 'high-risk' goods [Re: djk] #189236 09/25/09 03:51 PM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,491
Texas_Ranger Offline
Swiss - Switzerland.

In Dublin I saw a girl who plugged her laptop (NEMA 5-15 plug) into a non-grounding NEMA-Schuko adaptor which was in turn plugged into a non-grounding BS1363 adaptor like the type mentioned by DJK. In Galway I saw someone using the very same "adaptor tower" with a hairdryer, both plugs pulled halfway out, of course no fuse.

I had a BS 1363 plug with 13A fuse, 50cm of H05VV-F 3G1mm2 and a Schuko trailing socket. Only slight imperfection: it was an old BS1363 plug with unsleeved pins.

On the other hand, this NEMA/BS1363 adaptor is hard to beat.

Re: TradeMe seller fined over 'high-risk' goods [Re: Texas_Ranger] #189239 09/25/09 06:15 PM
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,250
djk Offline
I haven't seen any non-fused adaptors on sale here in Ireland, but the issue is more with people bringing their own. The adaptors radio shack were selling for example didn't comply with any standards from what I could see, they were unfused BS1363 plugs.

Luckily, in most Irish installations you'd only be connected to a 16 or 20A circuit, so it wouldn't be that different to a continental European socket and it's highly unlikely that you wouldn't be connected via an RCD in any hotel or tourist accommodation, or if you're visiting a university campus or office.

So, in general it's not too risky not to have the earth. However, you'd be at significant risk in older buildings and in the UK where RCDs were optional until recently.

Re: TradeMe seller fined over 'high-risk' goods [Re: djk] #189268 09/28/09 06:03 PM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,491
Texas_Ranger Offline
Hm, I distinctly remember seeing the open panel at one old hostel in Dublin... neat rows and rows of Diazed fuses, no RCD anywhere in sight. Another place (can't remember which one) had lots of 25A MCBs labeled "Sockets". Reminds me I still have to post the travel report *g*

Re: TradeMe seller fined over 'high-risk' goods [Re: Texas_Ranger] #191233 12/22/09 04:03 AM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,379
Trumpy Offline OP


Ministry bans sale of Universal Adaptors

Ministry of Economic Development officials have banned the import, sale, distribution and use a type of travel plug known as a "Universal Adaptor" or "all-in-one adaptor", two years after retailers began selling them.

They say the adaptors are unsafe as they do not offer adequate protection from contact with live parts, carrying a charge of 230 volts.

"Energy Safety is concerned about this style and type of adaptor, particularly as they may be used at skirting board level and could be easily accessible to small children and infants," said Richard Lamb, the ministry's energy safety compliance officer.

The adaptors have been sold through tourist gift shops and pharmacies and on online auction sites such as Trade Me. It is believed they first appeared in late 2007.

Plug adaptors are intended for use by overseas travellers with small low power personal appliances, such as a cellphone charger, laptop computers, or battery charger for camera equipment.

"Energy Safety's advice is do not use these universal adaptors, return them to where you purchased them and seek a refund," Mr Lamb said.

The ministry has put full description and pictures of the dangerous adaptors, on its website - - under gazette and prohibition notices.

Link to original article.


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