Amazon sued over recalls of hazardous products

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission alleges that the tech giant refused to remove hazardous products from its online retail listings.

David Priest Former editor
David Priest is an award-winning writer and editor who formerly covered home security for CNET.
David Priest
2 min read
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The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has filed a lawsuit against Amazon, saying the company failed to remove hazardous and defective products from its online retail listings. This comes after months of negotiations, in which federal safety regulators reportedly attempted to persuade Amazon to abide by CPSC rules.

Sales of both first- and third-party products on the site are subject to CPSC rules because Amazon's  handles most elements of its online transactions. The products at issue range from flammable children's sleepwear to faulty carbon monoxide detectors, according to the legal complaint.

The CPSC voted 3-1 to approve the complaint, which "seeks to force Amazon, as a distributor of the products, to stop selling these products, work with CPSC staff on a recall of the products and to directly notify consumers who purchased them about the recall and offer them a full refund," according to a release. The agency said Amazon has taken some actions related to some of the the products named in its complaint, but it charges that "those actions are insufficient."

This lawsuit comes amid increased scrutiny and pressure to regulate tech giants, including Amazon. With mixed levels of support from both sides of the aisle in Congress, Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan is leading antitrust investigations against Amazon and other Silicon Valley titans -- partly in response to Amazon's uniquely powerful position in online retail.

Amazon on Thursday said it has a robust recall program.

"As the CPSC's own complaint acknowledges, for the vast majority of the products in question, Amazon already immediately removed the products from our store, notified customers about potential safety concerns, advised customers to destroy the products, and provided customers with full refunds," said an Amazon spokesperson in an emailed statement. "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."

The spokesperson said the retail giant also offered to expand its capabilities to handle recalls for all products sold on its site, wether they're sold 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," the spokesperson added.