‘Shameful lack of measures’ to stop recalled washing machine listings online

29 January 2020, 00:04

Facebook listing live for one week
Charity calls on marketplaces to make model numbers and serial numbers mandatory. Picture: PA

Electrical Safety First said it found no features to prevent fire-risk recalled products on Facebook Marketplace and eBay.

Facebook Marketplace and eBay have been called out for a “shameful lack of measures” to prevent potentially dangerous recalled products from making it on to their sites.

The Electrical Safety First charity said it managed to list two Hotpoint-branded washing machine models which were among the Whirlpool recall, highlighted as being a fire-risk in December.

As many as 519,000 washing machines are thought to have been affected by the mass recall, sold under the Hotpoint and Indesit brands in the UK between October 2014 and February 2018.

Affected products have a problem with the door-locking system which could lead to them overheating and potentially catching fire.

Electrical Safety First said it found no features in place during a test of the listing process to prevent fire-risk recalled products being posted for sale, on both Facebook Marketplace and eBay.

The charity claims a dummy listing with model number WMXTF 742P UK.M in the description went undetected for three and a half days on eBay, before being pulled.

Meanwhile, model number WMAQC 741P UK went out on Facebook Marketplace undetected for a week, at which point Electrical Safety First deactivated the listing itself.

Martyn Allen, technical director at the charity, said model numbers and serial numbers should be made a mandatory field for white goods to ensure public safety.

eBay listing
Listing of recalled washing machine stayed on eBay for three and a half days, before the company detected it and took the listing down (Electrical Safety First/PA)

“The shameful lack of measures in place to prevent recalled products being listed online demonstrates marketplaces aren’t even taking some of the most basic steps to protect consumers,” he said.

“We hear time and time again how these sites have algorithms in place to prevent dangerous listings going live, yet our investigation proves that some of the most simplistic checks aren’t in place.

“Model numbers and serial numbers must be made a mandatory field when listing white goods, to ensure recalled products aren’t for sale on these sites.

“Marketplaces cannot wash their hands of responsibility for products sold on their sites.

“If you are happy to take money from consumers you must take proactive measures to protect them in the process.”

Reacting to the investigation, eBay said sellers are not allowed to list items that do not comply with product safety recommendations, or are prohibited from being sold because of a ban or a recall.

“If an item can be legally sold but is subject to a recall, sellers must include appropriate information about the recall within the listing,” a spokeswoman said.

“Safety is our priority, and between October 2018 and October 2019 our filters automatically blocked five million listings from entering the marketplace on product safety grounds – eBay works with organisations around the world including the EU market surveillance authorities and Westminster Trading Standards.

“If any of these authorities informs us that a product is dangerous, we ban it on all our marketplaces globally and inform and educate sellers on the ban.”

A spokesperson for Facebook said: “We do not allow the sale or purchase of recalled products on our platform and are in the process of improving our systems to find and remove these types of listings on Marketplace.

“When we become aware of listings or products that violate our policies, we immediately take action.”

By Press Association

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