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Ogarra Cohen Cramer


If Santa brings you a Hoverboard this year

18th December 2015

If Santa brings you a Hoverboard this year, let’s hope he brings you a warning letter with it!

Self-balancing scooters such as ‘hoverboards’ and monocycles expected to be among the most popular presents this Christmas but there’s lots in the press around the increasing concerns over their safety.

Here’s what we think you should know about them!

There’s been much in the press about Hoverboards reportedly setting on fire.

As well as reports of people injured when they fall off, some have reportedly exploded while others have caught fire while charging.

Some retailers have now pulled the products from sale while further checks are made, while thousands have been seized for failing safety tests.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. I’ve already bought one – what are my rights?

According to the UK’s chief ombudsman Dean Dunham, customers should contact the store or online shop they bought it from to ask for written assurance that the item is safe and complies with safety rules (see below).

If they are not able to provide that reassurance, people are entitled to demand a full refund under the Consumer Rights Act.

They should also contact the Citizens Advice consumer service to report the retailer in question.

Many retailers including Amazon and Argos have already confirmed they will offer a full refund to anyone who is concerned about their product.

2. I haven’t bought one yet, but I was going to – what should I do?

If you haven’t bought one yet, you may actually find it tough to get hold of one. A number of retailers have already pulled the items from the shelves while extra safety tests are carried out.

If you find one you want to buy, make sure it meets the relevant safety standards (see below)

3. What should I check for?

Trading Standards teams have issued the following advice:

  • The plug must be a three-pin, made to BS 1363. If it doesn’t include this information, then don’t buy the product
  • Never leave the device charging unattended – especially overnight
  • A faulty cut-off switch (designed to stop the battery from continuing to charge once fully charged) could lead to the device overheating, exploding or catching fire
  • A plug without a fuse, as seen in many products detained so far, could also lead to a fire or explosion
  • Check the device and look at the shape of the plug – the first unsafe products identified often had a clover-shaped plug
  • The item should include the name and contact details of the manufacturer and / or importer, including an address
  • The device should display the genuine CE mark
  • Safety advice should be in English, and should advise on both charging and use
  • Only buy from a reputable store

  • What else do I need to know?

    It is illegal to use self-balancing scooters such as ‘hoverboards’ and monocycles in public, including in parks, on roads and on footpaths.

    Here’s some frequently asked questions and the legal guidelines that you need to be aware of

    “I have a self-balancing scooter and I want to ride in on the public road, is it legal for road use?”
    No. Vehicles must be approved via ECWVTA or MSVA in order to be licensed and registered. Self-balancing scooters would not currently meet the requirements of these schemes so are not legal for road use.

    “I have been riding a self-balancing scooter on the public footway (pavement) outside my house, have I committed an offence?”
    Yes. It is an offence under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 to ride or drive a vehicle on the pavement. It is only an offence under this Act in England and Wales. In Scotland it is an offence under section 129(5) of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984.

    “Where can I ride a self-balancing scooter?”
    You can only ride an unregistered self-balancing scooter on land which is private property and with the landowner’s permission. The Department for Transport would advise that appropriate safety clothing should be worn at all times.

    “I have seen people using electric bicycles on the road without registration. Why are they permitted but a self-balancing scooter is not?”
    Bicycles are covered by different rules to those applying to self balancing scooters. Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles must meet the requirements of the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983. Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles that conform to these regulations are considered to be pedal cycles and as such are allowed to use cycle facilities such as cycle lanes on the road and cycle tracks away from the road which other powered vehicles are prohibited from using. A self-balancing scooter does not meet these requirements as it cannot be pedalled.

    So, if you do receive one of these on Christmas morning, please take care and be aware do’s & don’t!