Dangerous, counterfeit gas cookers were listed for sale on the internet after being recalled because they lacked essential safety components and did not meet Australian standards.

The cookers were listed with auction site GraysOnline after their Australian distributor told its insurer they had been storm damaged, Energy Safe Victoria, the state’s gas and electrical industry regulator, has revealed.

Energy Safe Victoria is preparing to prosecute the distributor under the Gas Safety Act and Crimes Act, said spokesperson Sharon Rainsbury.

The cookers did not have essential safety components installed, making them dangerous to use, she said.

Energy Safe Victoria’s annual report revealed that the counterfeit Eurolec brand cookers were recalled and the distributor directed to quarantine them. Instead, in February this year, “the distributor submitted an insurance claim indicating these appliances were water damaged as a result of the storm”, said the report.

“These same appliances then emerged for sale on an online auction site.”

The status of the cookers was not declared to the insurance company by the distributor or to GraysOnline.

“ESV became aware of the issue before the cookers were sold and they were withdrawn from sale and removed from the site,” said Rainsbury.

It is believed the distributor referred to in the report is not the original importer of the cookers. However, at this stage Energy Safe Victoria has refused to specify who is to be prosecuted. With charges yet to be finalised, it is not yet clear what maximum penalty will be faced.

Victoria’s Director of Energy Safety, Paul Fearon, warned that buyers should make certain any gas or electrical products purchased have met Australian standards.

“Many overseas countries don’t use the same gases or gas pressures and electricity voltage as Australia, so appliances produced overseas go through a rigorous certification process before they can be sold,” he said.

Gas appliances certified for use in Australia carry a certification label and Fearon said it was an offence to sell appliances that were not certified or approved.

With the boom in online shopping in Australia, the national regulator Energy Safe Australia is to launch a consumer awareness campaign about the potential dangers of buying and certified goods online, Rainsbury said.

Peter Fray

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