Regulator Sues Amazon Over Dangerous Products
Amazon has been hit with a product safety lawsuit accusing the online retail giant of not doing enough about hundreds of thousands of dangerous items sold on its platform.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is taking action against the world’s largest retailer, blasting Amazon for what it says is an inadequate response to defective products that pose a serious risk of injury or death.
These items – sold by third-party sellers through Amazon’s website – include nearly 400,000 hair dryers without immersion protection to prevent electrocution, 24,000 faulty carbon monoxide detectors that fail to go off, and children’s sleepwear containing flammable fabrics.
The complaint would see Amazon – which has taken action on some of the items following CPSC notification, though the CPSC has said this action was insufficient – to stop selling the defective products and work with the agency on a recall program with full refunds.
CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler has called the move a “huge step forward” for the agency in cracking down on unsafe goods sold online.
“It’s a huge step across a vast desert – we must grapple with how to deal with these massive third-party platforms more efficiently, and how best to protect the American consumers who rely on them,” he said.
In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson stressed the company’s “industry-leading” recall program as evidence of its commitment to customer safety.
“As the CPSC’s own complaint acknowledges, for the vast majority of the products in question, Amazon already immediately removed the products from our store, notified customers about potential safety concerns, advised customers to destroy the products, and provided customers with full refunds.
“For the remaining few products in question, the CPSC did not provide Amazon with enough information for us to take action and despite our requests, CPSC has remained unresponsive,” they said.
The statement also detailed an offer by Amazon to handle recalls on all products sold on its store irrespective of whether they were sold or fulfilled by Amazon itself or by third parties.
“We are unclear as to why the CPSC has rejected that offer or why they have filed a complaint seeking to force us to take actions almost entirely duplicative of those we’ve already taken,” the spokesperson said.
Though under a different brand name, at least one product with the same Amazon ID number as a recalled hair dryer is for sale on Amazon’s Australian website, sold by a third-party store called JS Choice for $39.99.
ChannelNews could not find any of the recalled carbon monoxide detectors for sale on Amazon.com.au, though several cheap detectors are available on the website at prices ranging from around $20-$40 AUD. Three of these are either sold, shipped, or both by Amazon itself.