Why you should be careful with the toys you buy online
Buying second-hand items is not only profitable, but also better for the environment. Children’s toys in particular can be repacked and passed on after children have finished playing with them.
This is why online marketplaces are so popular among parents. In addition to buying from other parents, you can usually also find cheap deals from other third-party sellers using the platforms.
However, some toys sold in this manner may not be in good condition.
According to a new report from the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA), almost half of toys purchased through third-party sellers are unsafe. Researchers found that the potential gifts could suffocate, strangle, burn, poison, and electrocute children.
The BTHA tested 225 randomly selected toys purchased through Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, and Wish, and found that 88% were illegal and 48% were unsafe for a child to play with.
The BTHA is now calling for changes to the law to increase regulation and has launched a petition to get the government’s attention.
Currently, there is no law requiring companies to verify the safety of products offered by third parties. And with many sellers outside the UK, it’s more difficult to regulate.
How to check that your children’s toys are safe:
For parents on a budget, ditching markets altogether may not be an option and many of us choose to use them for our greener credentials as well. But before you give your child a new purchase, there are some safety checks you need to do.
Natasha Crookes, director of public affairs at BTHA, told Huffpost that they are:
Check that it has an address in the EU.
Check that it has a CE mark.
Check that the age labeling is appropriate for the age of the child for which it is intended, as we found small parts in our study that could present a choking hazard to young children and which were incorrectly labeled as unsuitable for less than three years.
Check that it has relevant warnings (for example, toys not intended for babies should state “not suitable for children under 3” (or the equivalent symbol).
Packaging in general – does it look authentic, is the printing correct, are the warnings and labels in the correct language etc. ?
Many illegal toys we have purchased have been delivered without any packaging or information, which means there is no address to contact and no disclaimer that can be essential for safe play.
If any of these items are in doubt or are missing, the toy is more likely to be illegal or unsafe, we recommend that you return it.
“It is not acceptable that dangerous and non-compliant toys are simply allowed to enter the UK market, which puts children at serious risk,” Crookes added.
“We believe the government needs to step in to legislate on this safety wild west and we need to see politicians from all sides of the House coming together to protect children as part of the UK review of the product safety framework in 2021. “
What do marketplaces say?
A spokesperson for AliExpress told Huffpost, âAliExpress takes the safety of all of our customers very seriously and we work hard to ensure a safe shopping environment.
“We are investigating the items identified by the British Toy and Hobby Association report and will take appropriate action in accordance with our platform rules, including, where appropriate, removing products and penalizing sellers who violate the rules and regulations of our platform. â
An Amazon statement said, âSecurity is important to Amazon and we are urgently investigating the products in question.
“We require that all products offered in our store comply with applicable laws and regulations, and we have proactive measures in place to prevent suspect or non-compliant products from being listed.”
âWhen a product does not meet these standards, it is quickly removed, and when Wish deems it appropriate, the responsible merchant has their account privileges revoked, suspended, or even removed from the platform.
An eBay spokesperson said, âWe have removed the identified products and have taken appropriate action with the sellers. We continue to work closely with authorities, including Trading Standards and OPSS, to ensure that eBay sellers and listings comply with laws and regulations.
âAs part of our ongoing commitment to consumer safety, we have filters in places that automatically block listings that are unsafe or do not comply with our policies. These filters have prevented millions of dangerous ads from being posted on the site.
“Our teams are also working around the clock as an additional safety net to manually review and remove anything that may not have been captured by our filters.”