AN AUSTRALIAN Fair Trading Office has warned people of a "real and present danger" that they have invited into their homes, the cheap USB charger.
Cheap knock-off device chargers are associated with several things, especially dangerous incidents.
Many times a simple charging process has turned a piece of hardware into a smokey melted lump and on some occasions more damage has been done.
However "more damage" is not strong enough to describe the incident in New South Wales that has prompted the warning from Australian Fair Trading commissioner Rod Stowe.
Stowe, reacting to a report that a knock-off charger started a fire that killed a woman, said, "These devices pose a serious risk of electrocution or fire," and recommended that no one buy or sell them.
The problem for many is that an official charger is often the more expensive option, and in some areas a knock-off is the only type available.
Many firms have been associated with such incidents, and some have looked to address the problem. Apple for example, has offerred an amnesty where people can swap bad for good for a small fee. Another option from Apple is the free swap that applies to some users of its iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S handsets.
After realising that its standard charger could overheat the firm offered the free swap programme earlier this year.
"Customer safety is always Apple's top priority, and we have voluntarily decided to exchange every affected power adapter for a new, redesigned adapter, free of charge," it said.
"We encourage customers to exchange any affected adapter for a new one as soon as possible".
According to a report at the Guardian the unfortunate woman who led to the New Zealand warning was using a $5 charger. The store where she is said to have bought the charger has been shuttered. µ