December 2014 eBulletin: Toy safety
December is one of the busiest months of the year for shoppers, particularly those looking to buy toys for Christmas. A key concern for anyone buying toys is safety. In order to help protect consumers, EU legislation is in place to help ensure that all toys sold within the EU meet certain safety standards. This month’s eBulletin takes a look at these rules and sets out tips for consumers looking to buy toys this month.
Our Consumer Query of the Month comes from a consumer with a toy safety concern while our success story of the month involves a consumer who sought a refund for a faulty car part.
If you are experiencing problems with a purchase from another European country, please contact us on 01 8797 620. For more information on your consumer rights in Europe, see the “Popular Consumer Topics” section of our website. If you would like to contact us during the Christmas period, you can do so via our online complaint form.
On behalf of ECC Ireland, I would like to send our very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to all our subscribers. We look forward to working on your behalf in 2015.
Press and Communications Officer
Toy safety tips from ECC Ireland
EU safety rules for toys are among the strictest in the world. Directive 2009/48/EC sets out certain standards which manufacturers must meet before toys are placed on the market. Among the most important of these is the CE mark, which must be affixed to the body or packaging of a toy and indicates that a manufacturer has respected its safety obligations. Toys should also come with an instructions booklet in the language of the Member State in which they’re sold and carry clear warning labels to highlight any potential hazards.
However, it is important to note that the CE mark is a self-declaration by the manufacturer and not a certification that the toy has been independently tested.
Consumers are advised to bear the following tips in mind when buying toys this Christmas season –
- Research traders before purchase – consumers are encouraged to research a trader before purchasing, particularly if it is one with which they are not familiar or have not shopped before. An internet search can help to turn up any negative feedback that may have been left by other consumers. This is particularly important when looking for highly-sought after toys online, as there may be rogue traders looking to take advantage of demand. Remember that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Inspect toys bought online – toys bought online should be inspected to ensure they carry the CE mark and clear indications as to any possible hazards. This is a requirement under EU law.
- Be mindful of any warnings and follow instructions – read instructions and safety guidelines carefully. Never purchase a toy that doesn’t have a CE mark affixed on the body or packaging.
- Choose toys that are suitable for the child’s age, abilities, and skill – pay attention to age recommendations, as children may be injured by toys not meant for their specific age group. In particular, toys with small detachable parts are not suitable for children under 3 as these can pose a choking hazard.
- Report any safety concerns to the retailer where the toy was purchased – retailers should be made aware of any safety issues with toys being sold in their stores. If the toy was bought in Ireland, consumers may also report the issue to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
Consumer Query of the Month
I ordered a toy car from an online retailer for my son for Christmas. However, now that it has arrived, one of the parts seems to be loose and I’m concerned it may be unsafe. What are my rights in this situation?
Under EU legislation, all toys sold within the EU must carry a CE mark and have clear warning labels advising about any potential hazards. If you have a concern that the toy you purchased is in any way unsafe, you should carefully inspect the toy and its packaging to see if a CE mark is affixed and that appropriate warning labels have been included. If this is not the case, you should raise the matter with the retailer from which you purchased the toy as soon as possible. If you are not satisfied with the retailer’s response and continue to be concerned about the toy’s safety, you may also wish to consider reporting the matter to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, which is the national enforcement body for toy safety in Ireland.
Please be advised, further, that under EU Directive 99/44 on the sale of consumer goods, an item must be fit for purpose and in good working order. A loose part on the toy may be considered a defect which in turn would allow you to seek further redress against the seller. In these circumstances, the seller may offer a repair or replacement item or, if such is not possible or turns out to be unsatisfactory, you may seek to terminate the contract and obtain a full refund.
Success Story of the Month
While on holidays in France, an Irish consumer’s car broke down and the alternator was replaced by a local garage. However, on his return to Dublin, the problem reoccurred and a local mechanic had to replace the alternator again. The consumer was advised by this mechanic that the part fitted by the garage in France was faulty. He therefore contacted the garage and sought a refund for the faulty part. The part was returned for inspection at the garage’s request but the consumer did not receive any further response. The consumer contacted ECC Ireland which in turn sought assistance from ECC France. Following our colleagues’ intervention, a refund of €837.28 was secured for the consumer.
If you want more information on this or any other cross-border consumer issue, please contact us on 01 8797 620 or click here.