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Are bargain electrical goods dangerous?
Unsafe electrical goods can be a serious hazard to your safety. In fact, Electrical Safety Foundation International says cheap, fake or counterfeit electrical products could cost you your life.
The items to be wary about are often found at small discount stores, swap meets and on the Internet. However, the bargains are not worth the risk, according to experts.
Many of us are familiar with counterfeit handbags, DVDs and jewelry. Some consumers knowingly buy the knock-offs because they're so cheap. However, products without a manufacturer's label or repackaged electrical goods could be a threat to your life because they may not be certified for safety.
Electrical Safety Foundation International says faulty wiring, or overloaded circuits not equipped to handle the appliance power load, can lead to electrical fires.
These potentially dangerous electrical goods are easy to find. ABC7 Consumer Specialist Ric Romero walked into a couple of discount stores with Electrical Safety Foundation President Brett Brenner in search of these products. It didn't take long.
A light bulb socket and electrical converter were packaged under the brand name "Handyman." There were no instructions about the product and no physical address or contact information about the company. It simply says "Made in China."
At some stores, you may even find repackaged batteries, which Brenner says could have been pulled from a dumpster or taken from a product that offered free batteries.
Duracell told Eyewitness News that they never sell batteries in packaging that isn't their own.
Spotting dangerous goods isn't always easy.
"When you get a legitimate cord and you bend it, it should be not very pliable," said Brett Brenner while comparing to extension cords.
Counterfeit goods may even be sold with Underwriters Lab, or UL Certification labels. But, if items appear to have the labels pasted on the package, that could be a sign that the product is a fake or potentially dangerous.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission told Eyewitness News that unless a product has been recalled, or poses a verifiable risk, it's not illegal for retailer to sell them.
Experts say a good rule is that if a product doesn't have the manufacturer's address or contact number it is safer not to purchase it.
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