If you got yourself a hoverboard over the holidays, chances are you’ve been happily riding it without a care in the world. No incidents or accidents. Or house fires.
Well, while you’re merrily trundling around (no, it’s not really a hoverboard, is it) having fun, the authorities are continuing to fret about sub-standard, counterfeit models hitting the market, with reports of 52 board-related fires across 24 states a clear sign that all is not well in the hoverboard world.
And now Amazon has taken the decision to remove all boards, more accurately described as self-balancing scooters, from its U.S. Web store.
The precautionary move by the e-commerce giant comes just days after John Drengenberg, the consumer safety director of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) that tests tech product safety, said that no hoverboard had yet passed the certification process.
While his words don’t necessarily mean every board on the market is an explosion waiting to happen, it does indicate that until further testing UL is unable to say which models are safe and which are a fire risk. Speaking to Wired in recent days, Drengenberg said that the hoverboard testing process usually takes a couple of weeks. As new safety standards for the boards were introduced on February 2, we can expect to see some devices getting the green light soon.
Following in the footsteps of other big-name retailers such as Toys “R” Us and Target, Amazon’s action to halt sales of the popular personal transporter also follows a recent letter from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urging manufacturers, importers, and sellers to ensure their self-balancing scooters meet the required safety standards.
With inexperienced manufacturers keen to cash in on the hoverboard craze in the run up to Christmas, a number of boards entered the market with dodgy lithium-ion batteries or other low-quality parts that could cause them to suddenly catch fire. Airlines banned the device from flights, customs officials in Chicago seized a huge shipment of counterfeit boards imported from Asia, and videos turned up on YouTube showing the machines meeting a fiery end.
Search for hoverboards on Amazon’s site today and you’re met only with listings for “protective vinyl skin decals” and other accessories for the personal transporter.
Amazon removed a number of self-balancing scooters from its site in December following reports of fires, while last month the CPSC said the e-commerce company was offering refunds to anyone who’d already bought a board from its site.
Amazon hasn’t offered any official word on its current position regarding the device, but provided manufacturers can satisfy UL that their boards are safe, it shouldn’t be too long before units from reputable makers become available again via the online store.