PARENTS have been warned about buying toys from online marketplaces after research found 60% of them "could injure or kill".
AliExpress, Amazon, and eBay were among the online retailers found to be selling "dangerous toys" from third-party sellers by the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA).
The trade body asked an independent laboratory to test 100 toys sold via the sites at random and found 86% were illegal due to failing to comply with the European Toy Safety Directive.
This could be because labels had incorrect or missing information.
Toys sold in the EU, for example, must include any appropriate safety or age specific warnings, as well as bear the manufacturer's name and address.
Meanwhile, 60% of the toys tested were deemed to be unsafe for children because they presented a hazard that could cause injury or death.
This could involve loose cords that put children at risk of strangulation, small parts that present a choking risk, and battery compartments that don't screw shut meaning these can be swallowed causing internal damage.
And worryingly, the BHTA says this year it's found an increasing number of unsafe toys being sold. The organisation's 2019 investigation, which tested 200 toys, found 58% were illegal and 22% had safety issues.
Dangerous toys the BTHA had previously reported were also found on sale this year, albeit from different third party sellers.
All three of the online platforms involved told The Sun both third party sellers and products are subject to checks by both humans and computer algorithms.
Toys 'contained parts that tots could choke on'
Split by retailer; of the 34 Amazon toys tested 82% failed to comply with EU rules and 53% were deemed unsafe.
While on eBay, of the 37 toys tested 76% didn't meet EU rules and 62% were found to be unsafe.
With AliExpress, of the 29 toys looked at 100% were non-compliant and 66% posed a safety risk.
For example, testers believed one magnetic toy sold on Amazon included small parts that were easy to swallow, yet ingested magnets can potentially cause internal colon damage.
What to watch out for when buying toys online
HERE are the British Toy and Hobby Association’s top tips for buying toys online:
- Shop early. Don't leave ourchases to the last minute rush which might leave you fewer options of where to buy from.
- Check out third-party sellers. Look for sellers you recognise and trust. Be cautious of retailers you don't know and do your research checking reviews and where they're based.
- Go for branded toys. Try and choose a branded toy as then you can compare it to the manufacturer's own website to check it's legit.
- Be careful of going for the cheapest price. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Check if there are any age restrictions. Make sure you give suitable toys to children based on their age.
- Check reviews carefully. Some reviews are fake so look carefully at the comments.
- Stay with children at first. When your child opens a toy for the first time, stay with them and check for faults, detachable small parts, access to stuffing and loose or accessible batteries or magnets.
Meanwhile, a crawling baby toy sold on eBay contained dangerous levels of phthalates. This chemical is used to make plastic soft and flexible but it's limited to 0.1% in toys as it can have a toxic impact on fertility and more.
A warning was issued about plastic dolls containing high levels of these chemicals last Christmas.
And one cuddly panda toy sold on AliExpress had a loose nose button, which a child could choke on.
'Law change needed'
The BTHA says the problem is these retailers are seen as trusted and often shoppers don't realise they're not purchasing directly from Amazon or eBay.
Yet technically your contract is with the seller, not the marketplace – although some platforms may help you with disputes.
Consumer rights rules also differ depending on whether you buy from a trader or an individual – see Citizens Advice for more on this.
The BTHA is now calling on the government to change the law so that online platforms have more responsibility over the toys they sell.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is yet to comment.
AliExpress says it has removed all of the offending items from sale, blocked similar listings, and been in touch with sellers to explain the rules.
An AliExpress spokesperson said: "The safety of all products listed for sale, especially those intended for use by children, is of paramount importance."
An Amazon spokesperson added: “Safety is important to Amazon and we want customers to shop with confidence on our stores."
An eBay spokesperson said: “The safety of eBay users is our priority. These items do not comply with our safety standards and have been removed.”
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