Amazon Sued by CPSC Over Hazardous Third-Party Products

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on Wednesday it has sued Amazon in efforts to force the Seattle-based retailer to recall hundreds of thousands of hazardous products that it had allowed third party sellers to distribute on its platform.

Amazon CPSCPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

The administrative complaint was filed following a 3-1 vote, with the regulating body finding the e-commerce giant was legally responsible to recall the products as they posed a serious risk of injury or death to consumers.

The allegedly hazardous products include around 24,000 defective carbon monoxide detectors, children’s sleepwear apparel that falls short of flammability standards, and approximately 400,000 hair dryers that lack the appropriate safety devices to prevent electrocution.

Under the Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) program, merchants store their inventory of products at an Amazon fulfillment center and allow the retailer to pack and ship the products for a fee. Amazon advertises the program as targeted toward assisting merchants scale their businesses to reach a broader base of consumers.

Merchants that participate in the FBA program still retain the legal titles to their products, but Wednesday’s complaint states that when a consumer returns a Fulfilled by Amazon product, it’s sent back to Amazon facilities instead of the merchant. Amazon then purportedly examines the product to see if it can be resold. If an item cannot be placed on the resale market, then the merchant can elect to have the product mailed to its own facility, the complaint says.

The CPSC is seeking to stop distribution of the products named in the complaint and to require Amazon to facilitate returns so that the retailer can destroy the hazardous products. The regulator is also requesting proof of the destruction through a certificate or other documentation, and wants monthly reports on the progress.

“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,” Acting CPSC Chairman Robert Adler said of the complaint.

Though Adler voted in favor of filing the complaint, he said that he did so “with great reluctance” and that more consideration is needed on how to better manage large third-party platforms while protecting American consumers.

“To continue product‐by‐product is like using an eyedropper to empty the ocean — ineffective, inefficient, and frustratingly insufficient to protect consumers. The best solution to this problem would be for CPSC and third‐party platforms to work together to craft agreements that establish a framework for dealing with these products,” he noted.

Read more articles from Haute Lawyer, visit