U.S. Regulators: Hoverboards Don’t Meet Safety Standards

Four months ago, hoverboards were the hottest item on the market. In the weeks before Christmas, some 400,000 of them were shipped out of Shenzhen, China alone. skateboards

But today, they’re tough to find. On Feb. 18, the U.S. government issued a statement saying most hoverboards do not meet their basic safety standards.

Big name retailers like Amazon, Toys R’ US and most recently Target have pulled the items from their shelves and refused to stop selling. They are banned for transport on airlines and all public transportation systems. You can’t ride them on the sidewalks or streets of New York City, the UK or in any Disney park in the world.

What happened? 

Well, we can start with the fact that just since Dec. 1, there have been more than 50 fires linked in the U.S. to hoverboards. It is suspected the batteries and charging functions are to blame.

U.S. officials have been aggressively blocking the import of any more of these devices. In Chicago, agents seized 43,000 hoverboards in January. Another 3,500 were seized by border patrol agents in Houston.

The letter issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission was addressed to manufacturers, importers and retailers of “self-balancing scooters.” These players were encouraged to make sure any self-balancing scooters they imported, made, distributed or sold in the U.S. complied with applicable voluntary safety standards. This involves the assurance that all lithium ion batteries comply with test requirements under UN/DOT 38.3.

Failure to comply will result in unreasonable risk of fire, resulting in the possibility of serious injury or death to consumers when the scooters ignite and burn. Between Dec. 1, 2015 through Feb. 17, 2016, there have been 52 reports of fires from 24 states resulting in $2 million in damages, including the destruction of two homes and a car.

The agency noted that if it encountered such products at import, those items would be subject to seizure. If it encountered such products domestically, it would seek a recall.

“I urge you to review your product line,” the commissioner wrote.

Soon thereafter, Toys R’ US, the company’s biggest toy retailer in the country, yanked the boards from store shelves and online commerce.

That move came months after Amazon froze all of its sales, as did Ebay. Those outlets are now offering consumers refunds.

Target followed suit soon after the letter was issued. A spokeswoman for the company stated the sale of hoverboards had been “paused” in light of the commission’s warning. The company said it is taking the time to work with vendors to ensure the hoverboard products are in compliance with applicable safety standards. They had been selling brands Razor and Swagway.

Swagway responded to the CPSC statement by urging customers not to use their hoverboards while they investigate. Although it doesn’t qualify as an official recall, it is a significant step toward acknowledging the concerns asserted by the government. The company has said it will, if necessary, issue a recall.

Razor was the company that purchased the patent rights to the toys last fall. It started suing competitors at that point, but the market was already saturated with knock-offs.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Hoverboards are over – and the industry has only itself to blame, Feb. 23, 2016, By Josh Horwitz, qz.com

More Blog Entries:

Stanley v. Scott Petroleum Corp. – Gas Station Liability for Crash, Feb. 22, 2016, Charlotte Injury Lawyer Blog

Contact Information