Many consumers save money by buying discount or third party versions of popular tech. Once area where this is especially common is with chargers. More specifically, those designed for Apple devices. But just because it’s a third party item doesn’t mean it’s a problem, right? Well, sometimes, it is.
Fatal Flaws in Discount Chargers
To check the reliability of discount chargers, Trading Standards (as reported by the BBC) ran multiple devices through safety checks. In total, Trading Standards tested of 400 counterfeit chargers. And only three had sufficient insulation.
What does the lack of insulation mean for consumers? It means an increased risk of electrical shock from the devices.
Where Counterfeit Chargers are Sold
Often, these potentially dangerous chargers come through reliable retailers like Amazon. Apple expressed concerned about the pervasive number of counterfeit chargers being available through the online giant. Additionally, Apple has sued one vendor for putting customers at risk while selling the lower quality knockoffs.
The Trading Standards tested devices purchased from sources in eight different countries including Australia, China, and the US. That means these inferior chargers are essentially available worldwide.
The Appeal (and Risk) of Knockoff Chargers
The biggest fact that draws in buyers for these discount counterfeit chargers is the price difference. Most people prefer to save a few pounds when given the opportunity. And, since many buyers trust retailers like Amazon, they assume there is little risk.
But just because an item is available through Amazon doesn’t mean the company is actually the seller. To make matters worse, the risk of faulty devices is also present in the second-hand market, giving greater exposure to the threat.
Understanding the Unknown
Spotting a counterfeit item online isn’t easy. On counterfeit device listings, the pictures of the chargers do not show what you are actually buying. Instead, they use photos of the real charger to make the product listing look legitimate. And, once the item arrives, most people are going to use it even if they are suspicious of the device once they see it. But failing to take precautions puts your life (or someone else’s) at risk.
The key to getting a quality item is to only purchase those available directly through trusted sources. For example, Amazon offers a certified lightning charger through the AmazonBasics line. This is a private-label collection created for Amazon exclusively. If you want even more security, then buy your chargers directly from the source, Apple.
Purchasing electronics from an unknown source increases the risk of ending up with a counterfeit. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to spot a fake. Examine the plug pins on the charger. If the charger is the real deal, it should plug in easily into a wall socket. If you feel resistance when plugging in the charger, it could be a sign that the pins are the wrong size and it could be a counterfeit product. You can also look for manufacturer’s markings, though same can be faked, as well as the presence of safety warnings and instructions. And, if anything else seems out of line, it is better to play it safe and not use the charger.
General Charging Safety
Even when using a genuine charger, take certain precautions. Avoid overcharging the phone and make sure the device is not covered by other materials while charging is being done. Additionally, do not use any chargers that appear to be damaged, such as a cracked case, or where the cable is frayed. There are other safety precautions too, and they are disclosed in the accompanying documentation provided with your charger and device.