Ipswich/ Bury St Edmunds: Mountain Warehouse fined over sale of danger plugs

Company fined for selling dangerous plugs

A COMPANY that sold dangerous travel adapter plugs at two stores in Suffolk has been ordered to pay more than �20,000.

Suffolk County Council trading standards officers seized a total of 15 worldwide travel adapters, each priced at �4.99, from Mountain Warehouse stores in Westgate Street, Ipswich, and Cornhill, Bury St Edmunds.

They were found to pose a risk of electrocution and fire, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

The company admitted two offences under product safety regulations and was fined �1,500 on each charge and ordered to pay �1,500 costs and a victim surcharge of �15.

It was also ordered to pay a �16,479 confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Sentencing the company, Judge Peter Thompson said it had put its own brand on the adapters without having them independently tested. “The company took on trust the word of the Chinese supplier that they were safe,” Judge Thompson said.

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The company was successful, with a good reputation, and it had withdrawn 4,000 of the adapters from sale. The maximum fine for each offences was �5,000 but the offences before the court were “not the most serious by a long way,” he added.

Angela Lambert, prosecuting, said a trading standards officer visited the company’s store in Westgate Street, Ipswich, on December 13 after receiving information that it might be selling unsafe travel adapters.

The officer found one adapter on sale in the shop and, after speaking to the store manager, he was given a further seven adapters from stock.

The following day the officer went to the company’s shop in Bury St Edmunds and seized seven adapters which were on sale at the premises.

One was sent to be tested and was found to pose a risk of electrocution and fire. It was also found that the device did not have an earthing provision, said Miss Lambert.

Richard Kelly, for Mountain Warehouse, said the company was a respectable High Street retailer and of the six million to seven million items it sold each year only 1% were electrical items.

The adapter the court had heard about had been purchased from a trusted supplier in China and a safety certificate had been included in the paperwork.

As soon as the company became aware there was a problem with the adapters they were recalled from stores and destroyed. Recall notices were put on line and in stores and customers were offered full refunds.

Mr Kelly said the company had not received any complaints from customers about the adapters.

He added that the problem had cost the company about �20,000 and it had now put in place additional training for staff responsible for buying goods.

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