Another recall involving lithium-ion batteries and power banks; Costco recalls 350,000 cellphone chargers

Charger caused fires, including one on an airline flight

Courtesy of CPSC | Public Domain

Another national recall involving power banks and chargers with lithium-ion batteries has been announced. Costco recalled 350,000 Ubio Labs power banks after multiple fires, including one on an airline flight that caused injuries.

The power banks can overheat and ignite, the announcement from the Consumer Product Safety Commission said. The products, which are black, were sold in single packs and two packs, with the model number PWB1071 on the back.  The single packs sold for about $32; the two packs sold about $40.

Consumers should stop using them immediately and contact Costco for a refund if they haven’t already heard from the retailer. The distributor, Ubio Labs, is no longer in business. Costco said it has sent emails or letters to members who bought the product. Complaints to Costco include three reports of fires, including one on a commercial airline flight. Four people suffered smoke inhalation and one person was burned. 

Customers can return the items to their local Costco or call for shipping instructions. People in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico can’t ship them because of transportation restrictions involving recalled lithium-ion batteries.

Last month, 190,000 portable chargers used to provide power to cellphones and other items were recalled. A fire on a commercial airline flight was also cited in this case. The VRURC chargers were sold only through Amazon.

In March, 42,000 Anker power banks were recalled because the lithium-ion batteries can overheat and cause a fire.

Certain wattages of spare lithium-ion and lithium metal batteries, including power banks and cell phone battery charging cases, are prohibited in checked bags and must be carried in carry-on baggage only, the Transportation Security Administration says.

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Teresa Murray

Consumer Watchdog, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Teresa directs the Consumer Watchdog office, which looks out for consumers’ health, safety and financial security. Previously, she worked as a journalist covering consumer issues and personal finance for two decades for Ohio’s largest daily newspaper. She received dozens of state and national journalism awards, including Best Columnist in Ohio, a National Headliner Award for coverage of the 2008-09 financial crisis, and a journalism public service award for exposing improper billing practices by Verizon that affected 15 million customers nationwide. Teresa and her husband live in Greater Cleveland and have two sons. She enjoys biking, house projects and music, and serves on her church missions team and stewardship board.

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