Hoverboards were the hottest holiday gift in 2015. But all the hype surrounding the boards (which don’t actually hover) has fizzled out in a hurry, replaced with reports of hoverboard fires, sudden explosions and serious injuries resulting from falls.
Amazon yanked many of the boards from its site in December, amid fire safety concerns. Now the online retail giant is offering full refunds to customers who purchased hoverboards on its site, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which launched an investigation into the fire safety of hoverboards in December.
“I am pleased that at least one leading retailer is erring on the side of caution and taking action now,” commission Chairman Elliot Kaye said in a statement, where he also encouraged other retailers to follow Amazon’s move. “I want to commend Amazon for voluntarily stepping up, providing a free remedy and putting customer safety first.”
Hoverboards are essentially self-balancing hands-free scooters, powered by rechargeable batteries. The lithium-ion batteries are blamed for overheating and causing the boards to ignite.
“There are certain basic safety technologies we expect these units to have that should prevent overheating and potential combustion,” Kaye said, noting that the same technology is already used in cellphones and notebook computers.
The CPSC is also expanding its hoverboard investigation — which initially focused on the fire dangers — to include a probe into the falls associated with the self-balancing scooters.
“At first glance, it is easy to believe the risk of falling off a hoverboard is an obvious one and to dismiss those injuries as user inexperience or error,” Kaye said. “However, I am concerned, for example, that the current designs of these products might not take fully into consideration the different weights of different users, potentially leading to the units speeding up or lurching.”
The CPSC recommends that all hoverboard users wear safety equipment, including a helmet and pads.
As we reported earlier, Underwriters Laboratories, which conducts independent product safety testing and certification, is warning consumers that some hoverboards bear counterfeit UL safety marks. The agency says it has not certified any hoverboards or their components for safety.
If you are interested in getting a refund for a hoverboard you purchased from Amazon, click here. Though it’s issuing refunds for the self-balancing boards, the retail giant is still selling some hoverboards on its site.
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