"Hoverboards" (or, if you prefer to recognize them for what they actually are, self-balancing scooters) are having a bad month. While they've managed to capture the attention of people around the world and are the gadget to have this holiday season, concerns about their safety have led to a number of recalls and warnings about fire hazards and explosions.
"We've received information that your order purchased through the Amazon.co.uk website is unsafe for use as this product is supplied with a non-compliant U.K. plug," the email read. "Please dispose of this product ... as soon as possible."
A spokesman for Amazon confirmed to Mic in an email that the email about the plug was real.
Amazon has offered a full refund — roughly $375 — for the purchases. "We regret the inconvenience this may cause you but trust you will understand that your safety and satisfaction is our highest priority," the email concluded.
RioRand, for its part, has a note posted to its website assuring customers that its scooters are safe.
"Our Self-Balancing Scooter is designed in Canada, and it meets all of the saftey [sic] requirements in North America, EU Zone and U.K.," the company proclaimed. "Our circuit boards have EXCELLENT qualities which will last a very long time of use. We ONLY use Samsung Batteries that 100% SAFE after tests." They also included links to safety reports.
The scrutiny has been intense. The fervor surrounding the scooters has been met with a correspondingly giant wave of backlash.
In early December, Trading Standards, a British consumer protection organization, seized 15,000 hoverboards due to safety concerns. According to the BBC, the gadgets were recalled because they were "in danger of overheating, exploding or catching fire," due to issues with plugs and faulty cables and chargers. Trading Standards noted that 88% of the scooters taken around the United Kingdom were "defective." Retailers including Tesco, Argos and John Lewis have all stopped selling them.
Stateside, the news hasn't been much better. Tales of exploding hoverboards have been reported everywhere from Louisiana to New York, and retailers like Target and Walmart have scooted away from selling the devices. Even airlines have backed down: Delta, United, British Airways and Virgin America, among others, have all banned the things.
Despite the concerns, the scooters remain popular, with celebrities and laypeople alike frolicking around on them.
Others, however, have chosen to call it as they see it.