On July 14 the CPSC voted to file an administrative complaint. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission say that the e-commerce giant was legally responsible to recall the products. They posed a serious risk of injury or death to consumers. Amongst these products were carbon monoxide detectors that failed to go off. Hair dryers that lacked required protection against electrocution and children’s sleepwear garments that could catch fire. The federal safety watchdog CPSC sues Amazon for selling dangerous products in order them to stop.
Each of the products was sold by one of Amazon’s millions of third-party merchants. They all used Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA). This allows Amazon to store and distribute things on behalf of its sellers. CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler said: “We must grapple with how to deal with these massive third-party platforms more efficiently. How best to protect the American consumers who rely on them”. Amazon has taken unspecified actions for some of the products, according to the authority, but it was not enough.
Amazon statement about CPSC suing them
In a statement to The Verge Amazon says:
“Customer safety is a top priority and we take prompt action to protect customers when we are aware of a safety concern. 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. Amazon has an industry-leading recalls program and we have further offered to expand our capabilities to handle recalls for all products sold in our store, regardless of whether those products were sold or fulfilled by Amazon or third-party sellers. 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 complaint asks for a determination that Amazon is a consumer product distributor under the Consumer Product Safety Act. It also asks for an order requiring the corporation to engage with the government to remove the risk of defective items to customers. Furthermore it seems that the CPSC’s action is about finding the authority to compel recalls on large online seller marketplaces like Amazon. The e-commerce platforms weren’t around when the regulations were enacted. It wouldn’t have to rely on Amazon’s willingness to cooperate. That is why now the federal safety watchdog CPSC sues Amazon for selling dangerous products in order them to stop.
CPSC’s administrative complaint is just the latest indication of the pressure on Amazon to ensure the safety of the products the platform hosts. These federal agency and Congressional efforts will almost certainly cause more pressure on product manufacturers to ensure the products they offer for sale on Amazon are compliant with the relevant regulations.
We continue to follow this case that potentially can have a big impact on Amazon’s business model and of the sellers that are using the Amazon platform.