Norfolk watchdogs issue warning over exploding hover boards

Marty McFly's hover board did not explode in the popular franchise. But it did not work on water. Pi

Marty McFly's hover board did not explode in the popular franchise. But it did not work on water. Pic: Universal Entertainment. - Credit: AP

Watchdogs have warned people to think twice before buying a Back To The Future inspired 'hover board' this Christmas - particularly if offered at rock bottom prices.

One of the non compliant hover boards seized by trading standards officers. Pic: Suffolk Trading Sta

One of the non compliant hover boards seized by trading standards officers. Pic: Suffolk Trading Standards. - Credit: Submitted

Trading standards import surveillance officers in Suffolk seized 1,493 balance scooters from nine separate consignments at Felixstowe port this month - and found all them had unsafe chargers which had the potential to overheat and catch fire.

Across the UK, a further 12 consignments were also examined at other border points, including airports, with all 623 items being assessed as unsafe due to the charger.

As well as the seizures, there are reports of boards 'exploding' or catching fire whilst being charged, in London and Kent, although no such incidents have been reported in Norfolk.

Brian Chatten, Norfolk County Council's community safety and fair trading manager said: 'The products that were seized at Felixstowe port by our colleagues in Suffolk were destined for shops, markets and internet outlets across our region in the run up to Christmas. They also seized products from shops in Suffolk being sold at the 'bargain' price of £270.

'Here in Norfolk, our Trading Standards officers are also on high alert and will not hesitate to take action by removing unsafe products from sale here in order to protect our residents.

'Everyone is looking for the latest must have gift at Christmas – and to make their money stretch as far as possible. But our advice is to steer well away from any electrical products being offered at bargain prices.

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'That often means they are fitted with cheap, unsafe, non-compliant or faulty parts that can overheat or break just days after purchase, increasing the risk of fire or even electric shock.'

Watchdogs have also released an image of a non-compliant hover board. Mr Chatten said: 'If you have purchased one of these, or something similar, or if you have an electrical device that you suspect may be unsafe, our advice is to stop using it immediately, do not charge the product and report the matter to the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 040506.'

The balance scooters have been dubbed hover boards, but unlike the one ridden by Marty McFly in Back To The Future Part II, they do not actually hover.

And, on top of the warning that they might explode, there's another reason not to buy one. Last month, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed it is illegal to ride them on pavements, or on roads. They remain legal to use in private spaces with the permission of the landowner.

For shoppers still thinking of buying a balance scooter, trading standards officers highlighted these key points when looking for a compliant product:

• The plug must be a three pin UK plug. It is not acceptable for the product to be supplied with a two pin plug and adaptor for use in UK sockets. If there is an adaptor, it must be fixed in such a way that it can be removed only by using a screw driver.

• The product should have information about the importer and/or manufacturer. This must include an address but may also include a website and full contact details in case of issues – just a mobile phone number is not good enough.

• Instructions should be in good English, with advice about safe use, intended users (e.g. by age or weight)

• Don't charge your product overnight or if you are going out.

• Always buy from reputable sources and stores.

• Always ensure that any replacement batteries or chargers are fully compatible with the item in line with manufacturer's instructions.