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Prosecution for attempt to sell unsafe Xmas lights

Media Release
21 July 2008

Company prosecuted for attempting to sell unsafe Christmas lights

A wholesale company, who attempted to sell unsafe banned Christmas lights, has been convicted for breaching Electricity Regulations in the Auckland District Court.

In November 2007, Energy Safety undertook a targeted programme of surveillance of decorative lighting outfits (Christmas lights) in the build up to Christmas.

Prohibited decorative lights were found being offered for sale at street markets, small retailers, on-line and at traditional auctions in November 2007. At the time traders were given warnings and lights were withdrawn from the market, with over 1,000 sets removed from members of on-line auction sites.

The wholesale company had not gained the appropriate approval before they attempted to supply the New Zealand market. Of greater concern, was that some of the Christmas light sets were prohibited, effectively banned, from being offered onto the New Zealand market.

The company was aware of the prohibition and that other lights they were supplying required an approval before supply. Energy Safety takes breaches of the Electricity Regulations very seriously and this seller blatantly disregarded them.

”It is very important that suppliers of electrical appliances recognise they have responsibilities and ensure that they comply with regulations, before they supply electrical products on the market,” said Bill Lowe, Acting Operations Manager, Energy Safety.

“The rules are there to encourage suppliers to take responsibility for the safety of the products they offer for sale. Energy Safety takes breaches of the rules extremely seriously.”

“These Christmas lights were of particularly poor quality and presented a significant electrical and fire hazard. The supply would have put hazardous and unsafe decorative Christmas lights into New Zealand homes at Christmas and presented a significant risk to people and property.”

Energy Safety stopped the sale of the lights before they were able to be sold to consumers.

Energy Safety is pleased with this conviction. It sends a message to companies supplying electrical products that they must comply with the requirements of the Electricity Act and Electricity Regulations.

“We are always willing to work with suppliers to achieve compliance. However, they must recognise that we are prepared to use all the sanctions we have available to us to ensure the safety of electrical products. The rules are in place to protect users and facilitate responsible business," said Bill Lowe.

The prosecution was taken by Energy Safety, which is part of the Ministry of Economic Development. The company had breached Electricity Regulations 107(a) and 107(b). Energy Safety is committed to ensuring the safe supply and use of electricity and gas. It undertakes an ongoing programme of investigations and audits of electrical and gas appliances.


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