According to an exhaustively reported piece from The Wall Street Journal, a deeply unsettling number of dangerous, fraudulently labeled, or otherwise unregulated products are available for purchase from Amazon.
Searching through the site, the Journal found 4,152 items for sale that had been “declared unsafe by federal agencies, are deceptively labeled or are banned by federal regulators,” another 2,000 or so that failed to provide sufficient health risk warnings, and “at least 157 items” that Amazon claimed to have already banned.
For each product discovered, WSJ reached out to Amazon for a comment, and almost every time Amazon did not reply, but they did either remove the products are add warnings to the product webpages.
The offending products ranged from infant sleeping mats to motorcycle helmets to cosmetic products to toys to dietary supplements to electronics to an objectively absurd number of balloons.
As for just how unsafe the products were: toxic amounts of lead and cadmium were found in four different kids toys; 116 products were falsely listed as FDA-approved, including products the FDA literally doesn’t review; over 1,400 electronics listings falsely claimed to be UL Certified, and 80 different infant sleeping wedges “matched the description of [those] the FDA has warned can cause suffocation.”
As the story said, the company “evolved like a flea market,” but one that “millions of people” see as yet another trustworthy big box store even though they’ve either “proven unable or unwilling to police third-party sellers.”
And considering Amazon’s unwieldily size, the federal government’s inability (or lack of desire) to regulate anything online, and the mechanics of e-comm in general, a fix doesn’t seem to be imminent. So maybe don’t go there for toys.
You can read more about it at The Wall Street Journal.