Posted: Fri 9th Feb 2024

Electric heaters sold on TikTok and Temu could explode, cause electric shocks or start house fires, Which? warns

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Feb 9th, 2024

Electric heaters that could explode, cause electric shocks or start house fires are being sold on TikTok and Temu and promoted by influencers with millions of social media followers, Which? has warned.

The consumer champion bought and tested eight electric heaters, starting from as little as £7.20, from TikTok Shop and Temu and found that six of the eight products were electrically unsafe. Dozens of listings for these products have been removed by the marketplaces since Which? flagged them, but the research suggests that thousands of these dangerous heaters had already been sold.

Heaters are an essential item for a lot of people during winter and when Which? searched ‘electric heaters’ on TikTok it uncovered five videos, out of the first 100 results, promoting the fire-risk heaters that were marked “paid partnership” or “commission paid”. The videos had more than 100,000 views between them.

This latest investigation is further evidence of why Which? believes online marketplaces must be given more legal responsibility for unsafe and illegal products sold to consumers through their platforms, especially given that platforms like TikTok have actively promoted potentially dangerous products to shoppers.

New online marketplaces such as TikTok and Temu can rise to the top of the app charts, with hundreds of millions of downloads, yet they can currently avoid responsibility and pass the buck to sellers who are beyond the reach of UK regulations.

Tests found that the XH-1201 1200W portable electric heater, £7.20, bought from TikTok was a fire hazard while also posing an explosion threat, and could also cause electric shocks. Which? found 16 sellers listing this dangerous heater on TikTok when it checked, quoting 223 sales.

An identical portable space heater, £16.98, purchased from Temu could similarly give users an electric shock, cause a fire or explode. It is far too easy to prise open and gain access to the working parts inside, and the electrical connections were poor. On the Temu listing for the seller Which? bought from, it stated that 2,100 of these dangerous heaters had been sold. When researchers looked for other Temu-based sellers they found another claiming 6,700 sales.

Another heater, X7 Portable space heater sold for £14.99 on Temu, had not been properly assembled and the live parts were easy to access, running the risk of electric shock. The seller Which? bought from had sold 353 of these dangerous heaters but researchers found two more sellers listing identical products and claiming 8,900 sales between them.

NFJ004 Portable electric heater, £15.99 on TikTok, is made so badly that it could give owners an electric shock, catch fire or explode. Internal connections are poor and accreditation markings are missing from key components, such as the control switch and the thermostat.

Recent Which? research found that around 2.8 million UK consumers made a purchase through TikTok in 2023, while 8.2 million UK consumers bought through Temu last year.

Overall, three of the five heaters bought through TikTok for Which? tests were dangerously unsafe and the instructions for a fourth were lacking key safety warnings. All three heaters bought through Temu presented a danger to anyone using them.

Only one of the eight heaters Which? tested from TikTok and Temu is both safe to use in the home and legal to be sold in the UK.

Which? reported its findings to TikTok and Temu, identifying 34 listings for heaters that it bought, tested and that failed its tests or that were identical to those that failed its tests.

Both TikTok and Temu have removed all seven heaters that failed its tests along with 27 listings for identical dangerous heaters. However, Which? found that more similar listings have since appeared in their place, proving the futility of this reactive approach.

Which? believes the government cannot delay any longer. It needs to put in place new regulations that put consumer safety first, requiring online marketplaces to take greater responsibility for ensuring the safety of products that they list and enabling tough enforcement action against them when they allow dangerous and illegal products to infiltrate their platforms.

Sue Davies, Which? Head of Consumer Protection Policy, said:

“Cheap electric heaters are a tempting purchase for consumers struggling during the cold winter months, but our latest tests have revealed that models sold on TikTok and Temu are a serious safety risk and must be avoided at all costs.

“It’s vital that the government urgently gives greater legal responsibility to online marketplaces for unsafe products so that they are forced to take action to prevent dangerous products ending up in people’s homes.”

Temu said: “We deeply regret any concern or inconvenience caused by the safety issues identified in four electric heaters on our platform. The safety of our customers is our highest priority, and we have taken immediate action to address this issue.

“All four heaters identified by Which? as safety hazards have been removed from Temu. Our proactive monitoring systems had already detected and removed two of these heaters in December, before we received the test results from Which?. The other two were removed from sale on the day we were notified. As an added precaution, we suspended the sale of similar products while we conduct a thorough review to ensure their compliance with safety standards.

“Temu operates a marketplace for independent third-party sellers who must adhere to strict compliance and legal standards before listing their products. In instances of non-compliance, we act swiftly to investigate and take necessary measures to protect our customers, which may include product removals and seller account terminations. We also enhance our seller training programs to prevent such issues.

“We appreciate the feedback and oversight from entities like Which? as they are invaluable in helping us improve our quality assurance. Customers can contact us 24/7 through our customer service channels about any concerns they may have about the safety of the products they have purchased.”

TikTok said: “The heaters have been removed for violating our policies on Electricals and Electronics. TikTok has policies and processes to protect customers and promote a trustworthy shopping experience. This includes policies on what can and can’t be sold, seller registration and verification requirements, and features like product reviews, reporting tools, and easy returns.

“TikTok uses a combination of technology and manual moderation to enforce our policies for TikTok Shop. If TikTok finds merchants or products that violate their policies, they remove them.

“To promote transparency, products promoted by TikTok Shop Creators are clearly disclosed as eligible for commission or a paid partnership.”

[Photo: Unsplash]

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