Illegal e-batteries being sold in New York City despite efforts to restrict access

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Monday, January 22, 2024
7 On Your Side Investigates: Illegal e-batteries being sold in NYC
7 On Your Side's Dan Krauth has more on the investigation.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- No matter how many laws are passed in New York City, fire officials say e-battery fires will continue as long as people still have access to buying uncertified batteries.

The FDNY is responding to an e-battery fire almost every day and fire officials say certified batteries are safer.

Last summer, the city passed a series of laws that prohibit the buying and selling of batteries that aren't UL certified. The city has issued 89 summons to local stores for selling the batteries. However, people still have access to purchasing them online.

"Even though laws have been passed to stop that we are still seeing them sold every day in stores around the city, we're seeing them sold on these online websites, we're seeing the delivery workers are still using them," said FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh.

Commissioner Kavanagh traveled to Washington DC over the past week to push for national safety standards for batteries.

Since the city laws have been passed preventing the sale of uncertified batteries, 7 On Your Side Investigates found Amazon no longer lets customers ship one to a zip code in New York City. Customers get a message in red instead, notifying them to choose a different address.

But, we found the same battery for sale on other sites like eBay, even though the company has its own policy against it. EBay said it has removed more than 259,000 listings already.

"We will be looking very hard at whether the products are properly certified," said Robert Kaye of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The city says it's up to federal groups like the Consumer Product Safety Commission to do something nationwide.

"We have also pressed e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Walmart, Facebook Marketplace, eBay and the like to be vigilant in trying to keep uncertified products off of their marketplaces," Kaye said.

But the same federal group admits it's hard for consumers to tell the difference between a certified and uncertified battery.

UL Solutions said consumers should look for the UL Mark on batteries and products. Also, you can check the search engine of their website to see if a product has certification.

A spokesperson for eBay sent a statement in regards to this story stating:

"EBay is committed to maintaining a safe and vibrant community by ensuring goods sold on our platform are legal, safe, and authentic. Under eBay's listings for e-mobility devices, including batteries or chargers, are required to be certified to meet UL 2272 or UL 2849 safety standards. Those that do not are prohibited and will be blocked or removed. EBay's policies are actively enforced using a variety of methods, including highly trained investigators and filters supported by artificial intelligence and image detection to proactively identify prohibited products. In 2023, eBay blocked approximately 259,000 listings related to regulated e-mobility devices that do not comply with our policy."


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