US sues Amazon for selling dangerous products

New York (CNN Business)The US Consumer Product Safety Commission says Amazon is selling hazardous products to its customers. The federal safety watchdog is suing Amazon to stop.Among the products cited in the suit are carbon monoxide detectors that fail to alarm, numerous children’s pajamas that could catch fire and nearly 400,000 hair dryers that could electrocute people if dropped in water.The action is another sign of a far more aggressive stance by the CPSC this year. In the past the agency has often pulled its punches rather than push a court fight with companies it believes sell dangerous products.The products cited are not sold directly by Amazon (AMZN) — they’re sold by third parties using Amazon’s platform. Many of those companies that sold the dangerous products cited by CPSC are foreign, and the CPSC has limited ability to force a recall of their products if they are found to be hazardous.The CPSC said cracking down on Amazon is the only way to keep consumers safe from these products.”Today’s vote to file an administrative complaint against Amazon was a huge step forward for this small agency,” says Acting Chairman Robert Adler. “But 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.”

Third-party sellers account for more than half the physical goods sold on Amazon. The company collected $80 billion in commissions and other payments by third-party sellers last year.The complaint concedes that Amazon did stop selling the products when notified by CPSC staff, and that it notified buyers of the products of the hazard and offered them cash refunds. But the complaint says “Amazon’s unilateral actions are insufficient to remediate the hazards posed by the … products.”

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