Amazon Liable for Third-Party Sellers’ Products, Says Federal Appeals Court

Tsing

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Amazon isn't responsible for what its third-party vendors sell, but that could be changing. A federal appeals court has ruled that the company could be held liable for defective goods sold by third-party vendors.

The decision stems from a case involving a dog leash that retracted unexpectedly and blinded its buyer. Amazon critics are hoping the ruling will result in fewer counterfeits and dangerous items.

“Amazon fails to account for the fact that under the Agreement, third-party vendors can communicate with the customers only through Amazon,” the ruling states. “This enables third-party vendors to conceal themselves from the customer, leaving customers injured by defective products with no direct recourse to the third-party vendor.”
 

Amorius

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I realize this ruling may open up a Pandora's Box if they are basing the ruling on the fact that the consumer is unable to have recourse for failed products. This ruling, depending on the basis for it, could have implications with any online purchasing system such as eBay or even Newegg or Walmart's 3rd party system.

I have recently had an interest in some power outlets on Amazon that also have USB charging ports, but in further inspection, most fail to list U/L certification. What if a product like that overheats due to improper wiring and burns my house down? All of them are 3rd party sold, but fulfilled by Amazon. Because Amazon isn't the actual seller, there's no recourse for me other than to file with my home owner's insurance and that seller is off the hook. Shouldn't U/L certification be something required to have listed in product specs such as stating Yes or No for that spec with electrical appliances? I guess it really comes down to Amazon does need to consider product safety in a product listing.

More to the issue of recourse, Amazon does seem to provide quite a bit of anonymity to 3rd party sellers. If I view a 3rd party seller's % rating to view customer's reviews of the seller, I've seen several complaints that go unanswered or Amazon will take the heat for it, but we don't know that the customer got it resolved or if the seller was even disciplined.
 

Azrak

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3rd party sellers need to be held accountable for defective goods. Amazon is just the storefront, IMO, so the liability should not stop with them. We need to stop 3rd party sellers from selling total garbage to consumers that have no recourse when the product is defective or just total junk.

I have recently had an interest in some power outlets on Amazon that also have USB charging ports
Unless things have changed in recent years, in general those things are garbage. Terrible smoothing and voltage regulation, and most cannot supply more than 0.5 to 0.8 A before dropping below 4.9V and then dropping off a cliff after that. They are made as cheap as possible and it shows.
 

Brian_B

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I tend to agree with the ruling: Even if Amazon isn't the first party, they are providing the storefront and should accept some responsibility for what they sell.

They can't just claim they didn't sell it, absolve themselves of all liability, and still take a cut of the sale.

Maybe it will force Amazon to start cracking down on cheap Chinese imports, counterfeits, and like Amorius says, non-certified crap.

Also, same thing to Newegg.
 

raz-0

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I'll bet this gets overturned on appeal.

Try to contact a lot of product manufacturers for stuff purchased at wal-mart, target, or your local supermarket. Good luck.

Even if you can find contact information, you can't just walk in to their place of business and deal with them. You talk through your phone carrier, or USPS, or your email provider. How is Amazon any different there except for possibly being more effective because they can threaten the supplier? How are they any different than wal-mart?
 

Nanobot

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Well, considering that we don't have recourse on most of the things we buy due to binding arbitration clauses attached to everything, I don't see this being a problem for Amazon to work around. For non-Prime members: New tou will have 3rd party responsibility and loss of anonymity, but ultimately won't help them when trying to work out problems with oversea sellers. So, caveat emptor for non-Prime members. For Prime members: New tou will have binding arbitration set up in such a way that you will only be able to discover the 3rd party seller once arbitration has begun. Amazon will bury this in the fine print and charge more to 3rd party sellers that want access to Prime. Pay to play, everyone Amazon wins.
 

Grimlakin

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Something needs to be done to stop the counterfit crap products being sold to consumers through amazon. Ebay I expect it. Amazon I don't.
 
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Something needs to be done to stop the counterfit crap products being sold to consumers through amazon. Ebay I expect it. Amazon I don't.
Yep. The practice of comingled inventory is absurd. Even shipped/sold by Amazon doesn't matter now that third party is mixed into their inventory. You can buy and get a counterfeit easily due to this. It should be illegal as fraud.
 

alxlwson

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I realize this ruling may open up a Pandora's Box if they are basing the ruling on the fact that the consumer is unable to have recourse for failed products. This ruling, depending on the basis for it, could have implications with any online purchasing system such as eBay or even Newegg or Walmart's 3rd party system.

I have recently had an interest in some power outlets on Amazon that also have USB charging ports, but in further inspection, most fail to list U/L certification. What if a product like that overheats due to improper wiring and burns my house down? All of them are 3rd party sold, but fulfilled by Amazon. Because Amazon isn't the actual seller, there's no recourse for me other than to file with my home owner's insurance and that seller is off the hook. Shouldn't U/L certification be something required to have listed in product specs such as stating Yes or No for that spec with electrical appliances? I guess it really comes down to Amazon does need to consider product safety in a product listing.

More to the issue of recourse, Amazon does seem to provide quite a bit of anonymity to 3rd party sellers. If I view a 3rd party seller's % rating to view customer's reviews of the seller, I've seen several complaints that go unanswered or Amazon will take the heat for it, but we don't know that the customer got it resolved or if the seller was even disciplined.

UL cert isn't a government/legal requirement. Amazon could require all electrical products to have a UL/CE certificate, but it's not a legal requirement.
 
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