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Nearly 34,000 products didn't make it onto the Irish market over safety concerns

The latest figures were released by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

Image: Shutterstock/Ozgur Coskun

THERE WERE NEARLY 34,000 products that didn’t make it onto the Irish market due to safety concerns last year, including a large consignment of hoverboards.

That’s according to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), which released its 2015 report today.

The CCPC was established in October 2014 in order to make markets work better for consumers and businesses.

In its annual report, it says there were:

  • 62 consumer enforcement actions against traders for breaches of consumer protection legislation
  • 88 mergers assessed; 8 of which required either an extended phase 1 investigation or a full phase 2 investigation
  • 74 allegations of competition law breaches reviewed and two large-scale formal investigations opened
  • One individual and an undertaking were charged by the DPP with bid rigging offences following an investigation by the CCPC
  • 33,818 products prevented from entering the market because of product safety concerns

The goods prevented from entering the market over safety concerns included assorted toys, lasers, electronic IT equipment, low voltage items and plugs/adaptors.

Nine of the consignments, containing approximately 21,606 products, were destroyed or re-exported to the country of origin and 11 consignments, containing approximately 12,213 products, are currently detained pending destruction or disposal.

In October 2015, the CCPC became aware of reports of unsafe hoverboards across
Europe and initiated an investigation into the safety of these products.

Following this, customs notified the CCPC of the arrival of a consignment of approximately 1,400 Smart Balance Wheels (hoverboards).

The CCPC identified a number of serious safety concerns which resulted in their importation being suspended and they were re-exported to the country of origin.

It opened further investigations and in December 2015 took enforcement actions against
a number of hoverboard sellers/importers under the Low Voltage Electrical Equipment Regulations 1992 (Appendix 2).

The CCPC issued directions requiring retailers and importers not to place non-compliant hoverboards on the market.

The body said that its ongoing investigations continue to find evidence of hoverboards with noncompliant and potentially unsafe plugs and fuses, as well as “significant issues” with the cables, chargers and the battery packs.

“Significant results”

Isolde Goggin, chairperson of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, said that it was a busy first 14 months for the CCPC and that it has achieved “significant results” for consumers and businesses.

Its remit is across all sectors of the economy, which led to enforcements being undertaken in retail, telecoms, tourism and the motor sector. Nearly 2 million visitors looked for information through the CCPC websites and 50,924 consumers were given information via its helpline.

Goggin said that in 2016, an ongoing priority for the CCPC is public procurement.

“Our experience in investigating cartels shows that one of the most common forms of cartel concerns bid rigging,” she outlined.

The rate of the overcharge related to detected cartels worldwide is estimated to be between 20-30%, meaning that if only 5% of procurement processes were subject to bid rigging, the extra cost to the Irish taxpayer would be in the region of €100m per year. To both detect and deter bid rigging, the CCPC is exploring the introduction of a screening programme for procurement processes which systematically searches for indications that bid rigging may have occurred.

Another area of priority for the CCPC is the second-hand motor sector.

In 2015, it received over 3,500 contacts from consumers relating to this sector, over issues ranging from difficulties with deposits and financing, to potential car clocking and/or the selling of crashed cars.

One contact led to a CCPC investigation which in recent weeks resulted in an individual being prosecuted for misleading a consumer about the mileage of a car.

The CCPC has had a recent recruitment drive, and Goggin said that this year it will “continue to take action where we believe there is significant consumer detriment and anti-competitive behaviours”.

You can read the full report here.

Read: Hoverboard causes fire in Dublin house after bursting into flames while charging>

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