Regulating Online Marketplaces

The need for better regulation of online marketplaces

Due to a lack of regulation around online sales, it is all too easy to unknowingly buy unsafe goods online. Counterfeit, sub-standard and recalled electrical goods can all pose a serious risk and fire hazard. 

By listening to consumers , carrying out investigations and testing electrical products purchased from online marketplaces, Electrical Safety First is concerned at the extent of this problem and we have been calling on online platforms to do more to better protect the consumer. Unfortunately, they have been unwilling to take the required action.

We are also lobbying the UK Government, through the Office for Product Safety and Standards, to introduce regulations which would require online platforms to take more responsibility for the goods bought and sold on their websites. This lack of regulation contrasts with the High Street where all retailers need to adhere to strict rules around product safety.

Our Proposals

  • Online market places must:
    • take more responsibility for the goods bought and sold on their websites and immediately remove goods deemed unsafe
    • notify the buyer when they become aware that an item which has been purchased is unsafe
    • be designated as a retail store and not just a facilitator of a sale
  • The UK Government must introduce legislation to better protect consumers when they are shopping online
  • Private sales must be better regulated and included in Consumer Rights legislation.

You can find out more about our work around online marketplaces by downloading our two reports, on the evidence to support our campaign and suggested solutions.

Read our joint letter calling for the better regulation of online marketplaces:

Read our Online Marketplaces - Briefing Note here:

Read our Scottish Policy document here:

Read our Welsh Policy document here:

Read our Northern Irish Policy document here:

To find out more about the campaign, contact us at

You can support the campaign by signing our petition.

Key Facts and Figures

  • Electrical Safety First tested fake Apple chargers, easily available for purchase online, and found that 98 per cent of them could cause fire or electric shock.[1]
  • In a survey carried out by Electrical Safety First - 93% of consumers said that they expect e-commerce sites to protect them from counterfeit and substandard goods and 33 per cent have fallen victim to a counterfeit scam - the equivalent of 18 million people. [2]
  • Out of 15 items bought from online market places and tested by Electrical Safety First, only one passed basic safety tests. [3]

More Downloads

Counterfeit and Imitation Chargers (2018)
The results of extensive testing of counterfeit and imitation Apple chargers, purchased online and from markets and small, independent retail outlets. 

A Shocking Rip-Off: The True Cost of a Counterfeit (November 2015)
Electrical Safety First has carried out extensive testing and research to show the risk to public safety posed by counterfeit electrical products. We have detailed a number of clear actions by government, industry and consumers which would do much to reduce the negative impact of these products.

Letter to Oliver Dowden MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (June 2020)
The letter, signed by MPs offering cross-party support and interested organisations, asked the Government to consider including the online sale of unsafe electrical products in the expected Online Harms legislation.