"There are thousands of gas and plumbing components for sale on eBay in various states of repair," says Rick Crees from APHC. "Its a frightening thought that anyone at all can buy them and try to fit them, whatever their level of skill. We believe that safety is being compromised, and along with that, the reputation of the industry suffers.
Also, although it is hard to prove, we know many employers fear that products appearing on eBay could have been stolen by unscrupulous employees."We have been in contact with eBay and are well aware that they are committed to complying with all of their legal requirements and take these issues seriously. However, we would like eBay to go one step further by instigating a system whereby only registered engineers can buy safety-critical components.
We have given our backing to plumbers merchants who have taken a similar stance and we urge eBay to look at the issue again. We have corresponded with them and are pleased to say that they are open to further discussions, which we will pursue."Responding to APHCs concerns, eBay issued the following statement: "We have policies regards the sale of illegal or hazardous items to ensure that people trading on eBay.co.uk are doing so legally and legitimately, and will take immediate action if these rules are breached.
As with many other marketplaces and classified sites, items can be sold legitimately which require sensible and careful handling, and it is responsibility of the buyer to ensure that any items bought are fitted properly and in accordance with recognised safety standards. eBay does not adjudicate on third party contacts and therefore does not remove items based on contractual claims made by a third party, however if an item is reported as stolen, we will fully support any subsequent police investigations." APHCs stance has attracted support from manufacturers and merchants. Mike Baker, Burner Division Director, Nu-Way says:"Our view is that safety critical gas components should only be sold via industry accredited and recognised routes to market with suitable knowledge, experience and technical support to ensure that these components are applied in the correct applications and are fit for purpose with a guarantee of operation."
Colin McGregor, Trading Director, Parts Center, adds:"We are totally committed to gas safety, and the practice of selling boilers and spare parts on eBay is a major concern to us. Buying used or counterfeit parts and then fitting them in homes and business premises is not only putting the installers business at risk but, more importantly, is putting lives in danger. These parts may be old and worn or do not meet the manufacturers strict tolerances.
Counterfeit parts may be manufactured from inferior materials which could jeopardise longevity, reliability and, of course, safety. The best way to guard against buying used or counterfeit parts is to purchase from an approved merchant and, preferably, one that supports gas safety."Tom Tonkins, Managing Director, Testo Ltd, says: "Buying test and measurement equipment via online trading websites needs to be considered carefully, as the consequences could be potentially dangerous.
Any Flue Gas analyser or similar product should always be provided with an up to date calibration certificate. This is not always the case if these products are bought via auction or at a minimum value from such sites. Another consideration when buying a Flue Gas Analyser is that the sensors for Oxygen and Carbon Monoxide measurement have a limited life span. The risk of buying on sites such as eBay is the age of the sensors will not be known, particularly if the product is second