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Senators Are Calling For Recalls After A CNN Report Finds Amazon’s Products Flagged As Fire Hazards

In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday, Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Ed Markey of Massachusetts wrote that CNN reports on the AmazonBasics product line showed how the retailer ignored the serious problems. customer security regarding certain electronic devices: saying they may “continue to pose an ongoing threat to consumers who have already purchased these products until they are recalled.”
Amazon did not respond directly to the senators’ concerns, but said that “safety is a top priority” and that its products meet all applicable safety standards. The company said a number of steps are required to ensure AmazonBasics products are safe and of high quality, such as selecting expert manufacturers, monitoring customer feedback, and testing items to ensure they pass both safety and compliance standards. before and after their availability. He also directed CNN to a blog post published in response to the investigation.

“We want customers to buy with confidence, and if ever a customer has a problem, they can contact customer service and we̵

7;ll investigate,” the company said.

AmazonBasics is one of the retailer’s popular private label lines, offering over 5,000 affordable products ranging from cell phone chargers to kitchen appliances. CNN found at least 1,500 reviews on the Amazon website, covering more than 70 articles, describing the security risks. Within these reviews, many consumers have explicitly defined items as potentially dangerous, using terms such as “danger” or “fire” or saying the product should be recalled. About 30 items with three or more reviews like this one remained for sale on Amazon.com.

Some AmazonBasics products became unavailable after CNN began its referral and at least four product pages were completely removed from the retailer’s site, leaving behind dead URLs known to employees as “dog pages.”

An item highlighted by CNN and cited in the letter to Bezos, an AmazonBasics surge protector, continued to be sold for nearly two years after a concerned father reported that it had turned into a “blowtorch.” Eventually he received a payment of around $ 1,500 to cover damage to his home, but the surge protector remained available – even though more than 40 customers had reported the product was a fire hazard, it had caused damage to the their home or their belongings or described other dangers.

Amazon withdrew the surge protector from its site weeks after CNN began examining the device, but it doesn’t appear to be giving any notifications to customers, including reporters who bought it. And he didn’t post any messages on his site about why he was removed.

Matt Citro says he sent his charred surge protector back so it could be investigated by Amazon. He never received a reply, but he received payment to cover the damage to his home. (Courtesy Matt Citro)

“Amazon must immediately stop selling dangerous and defective AmazonBasics products, recall them, and immediately and effectively inform consumers of potential risks,” Democratic senators wrote in a letter. “It is simply not enough to delete a product’s retail listing page, leaving a dead URL behind and removing these consumer alerts from sight. There is no excuse for buyers of these products to not be immediately be informed about consumer safety issues “.

While reviews citing dangers represent a small fraction of overall product purchases and other factors may be at play in some cases such as user error or faulty wiring inside a home, electronics such as those sold The AmazonBasics name should rarely pose a danger when well done and used correctly, electrical engineers told CNN.

Senators wrote that, given the “series and frequency” of complaints exposed by CNN, “these setbacks cannot simply be linked to user error.”

Amazon previously told CNN that the thousands of products sold under the AmazonBasics line together have more than 1 million reviews and that concerns are being thoroughly investigated and the company is acting accordingly.

But the senators retorted that “if these products sufficiently met safety standards, these products would not explode and ignite.”

They sought detailed information from Amazon by October 11, asking the company to answer questions about its safety procedures and detail the steps it is taking to remove dangerous products from both its website and customers’ homes. The letter also states that the company should conduct “an internal review of the steps the company has taken so far to determine why the company has failed to protect consumers.”

The three lawmakers were already concerned about the dangerous products sold on Amazon, writing last year that the company needed to be more vigilant about what was being sold in its third-party market.

“We are shocked and appalled that Amazon has once again failed to prevent the sale of dangerous products,” they wrote on Friday, “this time as the AmazonBasics brand manufacturer taking full responsibility.”

What should we investigate next? Email us: watchdog@cnn.com.

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