While it’s no secret that Amazon has a story host unsecure third party products on its platform, a recent CNN investigation noted that the company’s own AmazonBasics line could be just as dangerous based on customer reviews.
Since 2016, CNN reporters identified more than 1,500 reviews of AmazonBasics electronics and devices from U.S. customers complaining about products going up in flames, melting, causing electrical interference, and other safety-related issues. The reviews included more than 70 articles and described horrific scenes in which batteries exploded, car chargers set off electrical fires, and in at least one case a paper shredder mysteriously turned itself on and exploded in a “ball of fire”.
More than 10% of the reviews CNN analyzed were of products that caught fire and nearly 200 customers described damage to their homes or possessions. Almost all of them were “verified purchases” – which means that Amazon has confirmed that the customer actually bought the product in their market – and some contained disturbing photos of the charred consequences.
Amazon originally launched AmazonBasics in 2009 and sells more than 5,000 items under this line, from furniture to kitchen utensils to electronics. Shortly after the investigation went live, Amazon became has published a blog post Detailed description of the review and quality control processes for its AmazonBasics products, including annual reviews and collaboration with ISO / IEC 17025 accredited third-party companies to develop and maintain test protocols.
“We only work with suppliers who meet our supply chain standards, and these suppliers are additionally verified by Amazon through a series of manufacturing and quality audits, including factory quality management system reviews and product quality controls,” the company said Thursday.
But that didn’t stop reports of products melting, sparking, or other safety risks piling up for years, and some of the affected items are still on sale on Amazon to this day. According to CNN, there are still around 30 articles with three or more reviews of this type on the Amazon marketplace.
In a particularly alarming case, a language is activated AmazonBasics Microwave that one customer said a caught fire “started sparking and smoking” as soon as it was turned on by researchers who included the point of sale in their investigation. Their tests found that a flaw in the design of the microwave could cause dirt to build up behind a panel covering the internal heater and possibly ignite. That said, and dozens of similar complaints about the microwave’s fire hazard, you can’t buy it on Amazon right now. When Amazon reached out for comment, it told Gizmodo that it was “confident that the AmazonBasics microwave is safe to use”.
“The device continues to meet or exceed all certification requirements set by the FDA, UL, FCC, Prop 65 and others for safety and functionality,” a company spokesman said via email Thursday, adding that “security is a top priority at Amazon Has. ”
In the past eight years, the Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has received at least 10 reports of AmazonBasics products that mention issues similar to those in the reviews that CNN analyzed. Still, Amazon has only released two official recalls of AmazonBasics products, one in 2018 after 53 reports from Overheating of the portable power banks (and cause burns in at least one case) and one in 2019 after 25 reports of overheating, burning or sparking from space heaters. On several occasions, CNN came across items with multiple reviews complaining about safety issues and were silently discontinued without notifying customers who may have already purchased the item.