Nearly half of toys sold in online marketplaces are harmful to children, report says

Nearly half of the toys sold in online marketplaces by third-party sellers are dangerously unsafe for children, the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) has warned.

In its latest report “Always play with the safety of children”, published Tuesday, October 5, the association found that 48% of toys currently on sale could suffocate, strangle, burn, poison or electrocute children.

The study randomly selected and inspected 255 toys listed by third-party sellers on Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, and Wish.

The BTHA reported that 88% of them were illegal in the UK, while 48% were considered unsafe for a child to play with.

Examples included a magnetic fishing rod listed on AliExpress, a remote control flying ball on Amazon, and interactive soft dolls listed on eBay. All three ads have since been withdrawn.

In response to its findings, the BTHA, which represents 150 UK toy manufacturers, has launched a new campaign calling on the government to urgently change the law regarding the sale of children’s toys through online marketplaces.

There is currently no legal obligation for online marketplaces to verify the safety of products that third-party sellers offer for sale.

This responsibility is left to individual sellers, who “are often based overseas, outside of UK enforcement jurisdiction,” the BTHA said.

Now the BTHA is calling on the government to make regulatory changes to hold both platforms and sellers to account.

He said consumer rights “must be strengthened” and platforms must pre-check sellers and products before they go on sale.

The initiative is led by Sam McCarthy, a mother whose two-year-old daughter, Rebecca, nearly died after swallowing magnets bought on eBay.

“I would hate for another child to go through what Becca went through as a result of buying dangerous toys through online marketplaces,” McCarthy said.

“The government must take urgent action before another child is seriously injured or even dies. “

Natasha Crookes, director of public affairs at BTHA, said it was unacceptable that dangerous toys were “just allowed to enter the UK market”.

She continued: ‘We believe the government needs to step in to legislate this far west of security 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 framework. of product safety in 2021. “

Following Brexit, the government will change its product safety laws later this year.

In March, he launched a call for contributions to seek opinions on what the envisaged reforms should entail.

An eBay spokesperson said Sky News: “We take the safety of our users very seriously and we are sorry to hear about Ms. McCarthy’s experience. We 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.

“As 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 added safety net to manually review and remove anything that may not have been captured by our filters.”

A spokesperson for AliExpress said The independent: “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, withdrawal of products and penalization of sellers who violate the rules and regulations of our platform. “

In a statement to The independent, Amazon said, “Security 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.”

A spokesperson for Wish said Sky News: “All traders who trade on our platform undergo certain checks before being allowed to trade.

“They are also required, through our merchant policies and terms of use, to comply with all applicable product compliance laws and regulations, including local safety laws and standards, wherever their products are located.” sold.

“When a product does not meet these standards, it is quickly deleted, and when Wish deems it appropriate, the responsible merchant has their account privileges revoked, suspended, or even removed from the platform.

The BTHA has launched a petition alongside its campaign, which members of the public can sign here.

The independent contacted eBay and Wish for comment.

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