News item

Bournemouth importer prosecuted for sale of unsafe electronic cigarette chargers

 An importer that supplied unsafe chargers for electronic cigarettes at Dorchester Market has been prosecuted by Dorset County Council’s trading standards service.

On 31 January 2014, at Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court, Vapertrails Limited of Alma Road, Bournemouth, pleaded guilty to three offences under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 of supplying three different types of unsafe battery charger for use with electronic cigarettes. 

The products failed the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 with varying degrees of risk to the user. One posed a direct risk of electric shock to the user, another had the wrong colours of wiring to comply with the British Standard and the third had a two pin plug which could not be safely connected to the mains. None of the items carried the correct markings and none came with instructions. Vapertrails Limited were fined £2000 for each of the three items and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1500 and a victim surcharge of £150. 

The court heard that in October 2012 officers from Dorset County Council’s trading standards service visited Dorchester Market to check that any electrical items on sale were safe. They found the chargers being sold from a trailer and seized the items when they failed a screen test conducted at the market. Subsequent examination by an expert witness proved that the chargers did not comply with the safety regulations.

In mitigation the company stated that these items had been sent from China as samples and had not been intended for supply to the public. However, at that time the director of the company had a number of personal problems which meant that he did not have full control of the company and the chargers had been allowed to be sent out. Matters had now improved and the company had taken advice from their local trading standards service and they were now confident of only selling safe products.

Ivan Hancock, trading standards service manager for Dorset County Council, said:

“We have become increasingly concerned about imports of cheap charging devices, many of which are being imported directly from the Far East by quite small businesses or just individuals trading via the Internet. Anyone importing electrical products has to address their responsibility for ensuring products are safe otherwise they will put UK consumers at risk."

Peter Finney, the county council's Cabinet member for community services, said:

“Our trading standards officers are in regular contact with Dorset-based importers and provide advice to local businesses to help them comply with safety requirements, but where consumers’ safety is put at risk by importers formal action is always a consideration. If any local supplier is unsure of their legal requirements I would urge them to contact trading standards for advice and guidance on 01305 224702.” 


Notes for editors:

1. For further information, please telephone Martin Thursby (principal trading standards officer) on 01305 224478, or Ivan Hancock (trading standards service manager) on 01305 224956. 

2. To make a complaint about goods purchased or about a trader believed to be selling unsafe goods consumers can call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06. Citizens Advice is the first point of contact for consumer advice and complaints requiring investigation are passed to the trading standards service for action locally. 

3. The county council, through its trading standards service has a duty to enforce the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and any safety regulations made under it, including the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations 2008. 

4. More information on Dorset’s trading standards service is available online at . 

Issued By: 

Fiona King, Public Relations Officer 

Tel: 01305 224491 


DATE: 4 February 2014