Amazon sold more than 420,000 dangerous hairdryers, carbon monoxide detectors, and children’s pajamas, a US safety agency said

Hairdryer
Hairdryers were on the list of dangerous items the CPSC found on Amazon. JackF/iStock
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) filed a lawsuit against Amazon.
  • The CPSC says Amazon failed to take enough action to get dangerous products off its platform.
  • Amazon said it took all appropriate steps to remove dangerous items identified by the CPSC.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US consumer products safety agency has accused Amazon of failing to protect its customers from more than 400,000 dangerous products that were posted for sale on its platform.

A lawsuit from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found children’s sleepwear that was too flammable, hairdryers that weren’t properly insulated and could shock people, and carbon monoxide detectors that failed to sound the alarm when carbon monoxide was present. All the items were being sold by third-party sellers.

The CPSC said in its suit that Amazon had sold roughly 24,600 of the carbon monoxide detectors and 398,000 hairdryers. It did not give an estimate for how many units of children’s sleepwear had been sold.

A CPSC spokesperson told Bloomberg it’s highly unusual for the agency to file a suit with a company rather than just working with it to issue a recall. CPSC spokesman Joe Martyak said the agency notified Amazon to the products before the suit was filed, and while it removed some product listings and alerted customers, it didn’t do enough.

Martyak said Amazon “did not want to have this be called a recall, and they did not want to be considered legally responsible for these products.”

Read more: 
Amazon Web Services salaries revealed: How much the $54 billion cloud giant pays software engineers, marketers, business analysts and more in 2021

An anonymous CPSC official told the Washington Post the lawsuit was filed after a back-and-forth between Amazon and the agency in which the CPSC tried to get Amazon to follow its rules on recalls.

An Amazon spokeswoman told Insider the CPSC hadn’t provided Amazon with enough information to take down all the items it named in the suit.

“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. 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,” said.

“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 spokeswoman added.

Amazon’s role as a marketplace for third-party sellers sometimes makes it hard for regulators to pin down whether it counts as a “seller,” and therefore whether it’s liable for the products on its platform.