The recessed spotlight from a China market in Cologne costs just 2.50 euros – a tenth of the price of a branded lamp. But the cheap power supply could generate interference frequencies in the lamp, warns inspector Uwe Saalmann from the Federal Network Agency. The heat accumulates in the plastic of the junk product – risk of fire. Understandable instructions for use and the mandatory CE manufacturer mark are missing anyway. The market surveillance of the Federal Network Agency withdrew the lamp from the traffic.
Lamps and wireless headphones, drones, power strips, handheld radios and so-called FM transmitters that transmit music from smartphones to radio: cheap electronic products that are prone to failure – often but not always from China – have been flooding the market for years. This is also due to the fact that more and more customers are shopping on the Internet, and deliveries are difficult to control. The Bonn Federal Network Agency, which watches over the trouble-free radio and radio operation, the customs and the regional supervisory authorities are waging a difficult battle in view of the glut of imports.
“Sales over the net are pushing more and more in,” says a spokesman for the authorities. “It’s like Don Quixote – you can go to some shops every week,” says Saalmann, who controls almost all of North Rhine-Westphalia from Dortmund. At the Federal Network Agency, more than 400 employees at 20 locations are already monitoring the market and correcting radio interference. “In view of the growing flood of unsafe products, we will continue to intensify our work, especially in online trading,” says Jochen Homann, head of the authorities.
From this Tuesday on, the supervisory authority is exhibiting particularly dangerous devices in a traveling exhibition, which in some cases act like time bombs in the living room or bedroom: A film in the exhibition shows how a radio-controlled socket made of cheap material in the test laboratory first generates sparks and then fires under power catches. The fire would be life-threatening under real conditions.
A Danish designer lightbulb – sold by the thousands on the German market – interferes with radio reception so much that you can hardly hear a radio right next to it in the exhibition. In reality, even the lamp owner’s neighbor had turned to the point of interference because his device was nothing but noise. A hair straightening brush from the Netherlands was also taken off the market without replacement – it not only brought excessively curly hair up to temperature and then shaped it, but also produced 121.5 degrees Celsius on the handle due to insufficient shielding.