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Amazon under fire - Unsafe products and regulating online sales


  • Amazon under fire - Unsafe products and regulating online sales

    As many of you may have read in these forums, the UK plan to allow OFCOM to regulate website content that may cause harm to individuals. Today seens an interesting twist on that which involves the sale of goods.




    Amazon: Suspect child car seats found for sale on its store again

    The products were discovered by BBC Panorama as part of a wider-ranging programme.

    The US firm has repeatedly faced complaints about listing such seats.

    A case dating back to 2013 led to a trading standards investigation that confirmed one example would tear apart if involved in a 30mph (48km/h) crash.

    More recently, Which? magazine found examples on Amazon of fabric-based seats that lacked the required safety labelling in 2019. Other outlets, including eBay, were also found to be selling the items at the time.

    No safety labels

    Four obscure brands were involved in the latest case.

    One listing described the product as being an "Infant Safe Seat" capable of preventing injury to a baby if a car urgently braked. It was on sale for just £3.99.

    Panorama attempted to contact the brands involved. It received a reply from only one of them, which said it was not the manufacturer.

    The programme purchased three of the suspect seats. They appeared similar in design to some of those involved in the 2013 case and lacked safety labels.

    To be fair, if you are a parent why the hell would you trust a £3.99 car seat to the safety of your most precious? You have to have a screw loose if you do. However, as Which say..



    Online harm

    At present, the operators of online markets, including Amazon Marketplace, are exempt from liability if they are not aware of illegal content being sold on their platform.

    But Which? has campaigned for this to change as part of the forthcoming Online Harms Bill.

    "The voluntary nature of current checks by marketplaces fails to recognise their role as the primary interface for consumers with the technical, as well as commercial, ability to hold their suppliers to account for consumer safety," it blogged in November.

    "Clearer government guidance is needed while this legislation is being drafted."

    Currently there are laws that prevent unsafe items from being sold in the EU. However, there are huge loopholes in that things can be sold through online overseas stores. What this often means is there are huge warehouses full of unsafe crap in Europe and the UK but are sold by an outside of the EU store. I could go online right now and inside minutes find and purchase some very unsafe electronics and have it arrive in my home tomorrow. The problem is, people trust stores like Amazon, and often have no idea the goods they are purchasing could potentially kill. Odd however that people do realise this about the bay of fleas and continue to purchase iffy kit from there.


    Amazon has sent emails to consumers who purchased the removed seats.

    They said: "The product you received from a third-party seller may not be compliant with applicable child restraint standards.

    "If you still have this product, please stop using it immediately, cut the straps to ensure it cannot be used, and dispose of the item."

    Fair enough, it is something they have to do really.


    Amazon's UK chief said the company took proactive steps to ensure the products it sold were safe.

    "Automated algorithms [survey] over five billion product pages every day and we monitors tens of millions of customer reviews," Doug Gurr said.

    So it is up to US to leave reviews so they know iffy items are being sold through their store? Doesn't sound good enough to me, especially as I have reported items to them in the past with detailed explanations to how they have been illegal for sale in the UK and yet those products remain today. 



    In a follow-up statement, the firm added: "Safety is extremely important to us and we regret that these products were available from third-party sellers using our stores.

    Again, sloping shoulders. I can go on right now and find numerous unsafe goods for sale.



    "After a thorough investigation, we identified the issue and are removing these products, and we're also contacting each customer who purchased one of these products to explain the situation and issue a refund.

    Well actually, it was the BBCs Panorama program that did the investigation so Amazon really were left without a choice.


    "We will continue to leverage and improve our tools and technology to ensure only safe and compliant car seats are available worldwide."

    So what about the hundreds of other unsafe products that are being sold? Do governments need to introduce legislation to make online sales portals liable for products sold through their platforms? Certainly we are coming to a time where action needs to be taken. Not sure though that should be up to governments but time will tell.



    Amazon: What They Know About Us will be broadcast on BBC One at 20:30GMT

    I am sure it will be a bit sensationalist but I bet it will also be interesting. 

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