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Amazon sued by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission over defective products

(GeekWire File Photo)

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on Wednesday sued Amazon in an attempt to force the retailer to accept legal responsibility for recalling defective products sold on its marketplace by third-party sellers.

The complaint alleges that Amazon sold children’s sleepwear, carbon monoxide detectors, and hair dryers that posed risk of serious injury or death to consumers. Amazon has removed most of the products, but CPSC says that its actions are “insufficient” and demands an official recall.

“Today’s vote to file an administrative complaint against Amazon was a huge step forward for this small agency,” CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler said in a statement. “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.”

This is the latest legal case to hold Amazon responsible for dangerous items sold on Amazon.com by third-party sellers, which make up a majority of the the company’s total online retail sales.

In a statement, Amazon said it already removed the products, 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,” a spokesperson said. “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.”

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