Hoverboards catching fire in the UK are now officially being blamed on the poor craftsmanship of “criminal” hoverboard manufacturers from other countries. These hovering devices are currently the subject of an intense series of recalls orchestrated by the country’s National Trading Standards agency, as was recently documented by the Inquisitr.
According to Leon Livermore, the chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute group that has been working with National Trading Standards to intercept any potentially dangerous hoverboards before they enter the country, the issue is that most of these hoverboards are assembled by “irresponsible manufacturers” looking to cut corners to save money during the hoverboard manufacturing process. The Guardian quoted Livermore as saying the following.
“Criminals and irresponsible manufacturers will often exploit high demand and attempt to flood the market with cheap and dangerous products. Some [hoverboards] are made abroad, principally for the overseas market, are not fitted with the correct plug and fuse for use in the U.K.. As a minimum consumers should check that the three-pin plug on the [hoverboard] device states it is made to BS1363. If it doesn’t include this information, then don’t buy the product.”
As previously reported by the news outlet, “thousands” of potentially “faulty” hoverboards have been confiscated at a number of ports in the aftermath of tests revealing safety issues related to overheated hoverboard chargers, plugs, cables, and cut-off switches that pose the risk of catching fire or even exploding when the user attempts to ride a hoverboard. National Trading Standards have seen approximately 17,000 hoverboards enter the country at seaports, airports, and other borders from many different locations. In just seven weeks of observing this hoverboard trend, the regulatory body believes that 15,000 of them — or 88 percent — failed what are considered to be one or more of a number of “basic safety checks.”
The hoverboard is named after Marty McFly’s 2015 floating skateboard of choice in the 1985 film franchise Back to the Future. Although it actually bears little resemblance to that gadget, this electric, two-wheeled, balanced scooter gives the impression that it glides, or “hovers,” just off the ground’s surface.
Orders of hoverboards represent one of the most popular (albeit pricey) Christmas gifts of 2015, which ironically is the same year in which they are featured in the film. In fact, these boards, which the Verge noted this week can retail anywhere from $300 to $18,000 in the United States, have become the “hot new toy of the season thanks to celebrities like John Legend and Kendall Jenner who Instagram themselves [as they hoverboard] around on the self-balancing scooters.”
Likewise, performers in Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean” video “perform routines in which they [hover] around on hoverboards.”
The Guardian also noted that a huge recent-weeks uptick in British hoverboard orders has compounded the efforts of both the National Trading Standards and Chartered Trading Standards Institute.
Livermore’s comments regarding U.K. hoverboard imports were further backed up by Institute Chairman Lord Toby Harris.
According to the Guardian, Harris noted, “Our teams at sea ports, postal hubs and airports have seen a significant spike in the number of unsafe hoverboards arriving at national entry points in recent weeks and are working round the clock to prevent dangerous [hoverboards] from entering the supply chain.”
Harris, whose agency is working with both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute to combat the hoverboards issue, also noted that consumers should conduct research and “buy cautiously” when considering the purchase of potentially faulty hoverboards.
“Most of these [hoverboards] are being imported for onward sale domestically as Christmas approaches,” he continued. “We urge consumers to be on their guard when purchasing these [hoverboards] and advise you read our product safety checklist to help ensure you are not purchasing a dangerous item.”
In light of these revelations, a number of British hoverboard retailers have already issued recalls for various hoverboard models, per the Guardian report, including Halfords and Costco, while a number of legitimate hoverboard fires have already been caused in London and Buckinghamshire due to overheating hoverboards.
— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) December 3, 2015
This news is also particularly alarming in the United States, where hoverboards are often manufactured domestically. Recently, at least one exploding hoverboard caused a house fire in Louisiana on its first day of use, per ABC News, while eight separate cases of hoverboard complaints have been logged by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, according to the New York Daily News.
[Photo by Christopher Furiong/Getty Images]