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Phones Direct convicted after shock from adaptor

Media Release
18 December 2009

Phones Direct convicted after shock from travel plug adaptor

Paul Scoble of website seller Phones Direct pleaded guilty to breaching the Electricity Regulations and was convicted in the Hamilton District Court yesterday and fined $1,000 and $130 costs.

Paul Scoble pleaded guilty to supplying an unsafe travel plug adaptor, and also to supplying an illegal mobile phone charger, by failing to establish the safety of a mobile phone charger before offering it for sale.

Energy Safety, part of the Ministry of Economic Development, prosecuted Phones Direct after a woman received a severe electric shock from a travel adaptor bought from Phones Direct in May 2008.

“Energy Safety considers itself lucky it is not investigating a fatality,” says Richard Lamb, Energy Safety Compliance Officer.

“The adaptor had come apart exposing live parts and putting the user in serious danger. This was not a minor shock,” Mr Lamb says.

“The woman needed medical treatment for deep tissue damage to her hand, and still had pain and swelling in her hand and arm some weeks after the event.”

Mr Lamb says the products ordered from a company in New Zealand were dispatched to customers directly from Hong Kong, a distribution method commonly known as “Drop shipping”. While this appears to be an efficient means of distribution, drop shipping does have some associated risks and suppliers should ensure what is dispatched is legal and safe.

“Phones Direct had drop shipped phone chargers designed for overseas use, along with an electrically unsafe adaptor, enabling the charger to be used in New Zealand.”

“Any appliance you buy should be suitable for use in New Zealand sockets and not need an adaptor,” says Mr Lamb.

“Adaptors should only be used when travelling, or as a short term solution when moving to a new country.”

Mr Lamb said the best protection for consumers is to use a trusted supplier which sells items suitable for New Zealand conditions and approved for use here.

Paul Scoble has breached Electricity Regulations 101 and 101A.


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