Amazon tells customers to throw out unsafe 'hoverboards'

It's also refunding customers in full, eating the cost in the process.

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

As a popular destination for self-balancing "hoverboards," Amazon needs to take its safety responsibilities seriously. The retailer has already pulled some models from its store until it can be proved their batteries and chargers are reliable, but now it's taking the unusual step of telling a small number of owners to throw them out. In an email, Amazon has warned US and UK customers that their hoverboard has been deemed "unsafe" and that they should "dispose" of it immediately.

In correspondence shared with Engadget, Amazon told one UK customer that his RioRand self-balancing scooter did not come equipped with a compliant UK plug. He was advised to hand it in at a Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) location and would receive a full refund. UK retailers Tesco, Argos and John Lewis have stopped selling hoverboards altogether.

With the popularity of hoverboards rocketing, Chinese manufacturers have helped flood the market with near-identical models that may not have passed consumer safety checks. In the UK, authorities have seized more than 15,000 self-balancing scooters at sea ports, airports and postal hubs over potential fire risks linked to internal batteries and cut-off switches, chargers, plugs and cabling. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission is also investigating reports of fires and is seeking to determine whether the two-wheelers are safe.