Cheap replacement chargers are flooding into UK shops, undercutting legitimate products while putting punters in danger from badly-made connections and low specifications.
The chargers, some of which bear a forged CE mark, are sold on the cheap and branded as "Travel Chargers". Trading Standards has issued a specific warning about discount chargers for the Nintendo DS, as well as those marked with an item number of "DE62347066", but the problem is much broader than that.
"The UK appears to be flooded with [dodgy chargers]. It probably runs into hundreds of thousands or even millions," Chris Holden, senior trading standards officer at Buckinghamshire County Council, told the BBC.
With every device requiring a subtly different charger, the market for replacements and spares is huge, and it's not easy to check up on the tests required for a legitimate CE mark. Getting the mark is expensive and pretty onerous - your reporter had to venture down a salt mine while getting such a mark for a set-top box.
Uncertified devices can overheat and wires can come loose, all for the sake of a price somewhere near a fiver - about a third of the price of the legitimate version.
Hopefully the adoption of mini-USB as a charging standard will reduce the number of chargers we all need and the frequency with which we replace them, but until then it pays to spend a little more for a branded product. ®