Many AmazonBasics products have had reports of being dangerous but the company has decided not to recall them. As reported by CNN, many items have had reports of melting, exploding or bursting into flames.
The most worrying element of this story is that Amazon, thus far, has not decided to recall the products. Some of these incidents go back to 2017 making this an even more concerning piece of news.
AmazonBasics products reported as dangerous
Back in 2017, a housefire in Wethersfield, Connecticut was put down to a USB charging cord produced by Amazon. It was part of the AmazonBasics range which first launched in 2009 and now offers more than 5,000 products.
The aim of the AmazonBasics is to source and produce products at a similar or higher quality and lower price point compared to competitors.
The range itself has been extremely successful. Many of its items have become bestsellers almost overnight due to their low prices. During the pandemic, this success has soared further as more and more people have stayed at home.
However, over recent years many reviews have expressed concerns about the safety of these products. Since 2016, at least 1,500 reviews, covering more than 70 items, have described products exploding, catching on fire, smoking, melting, causing electrical malfunctions.
These reviews do only represent a small fraction of the overall purchases of the products. Fires related to consumer electrics are also not unique to Amazon products as well. However, this is a big worry for the company.
Amazon slow to recall any dangerous products
Engineers interviewed on the topic said that products such as these should rarely pose any sort of danger. Of the products complained about, 30 had three or more reviews of this type and remain on sale today.
Just 11 of the products concerned are no longer for sale at the time of publication. This number is expected to increase as this story gains more traction.
Amazon's communication of this issue has also come in for criticism. As complaints and reviews of this nature mounted the company provided little or no information to consumers about how it handled the issues.
A number of horror stories have been found with regards to AmazonBasics products. These include USB cords resting into flames with a toddler in the vicinity and surge protector turned into a "blowtorch".
AmazonBasics products tested
As part of the investigation, a series of dangerous products were tested. They found that a USB cord was too burned to determine what had gone wrong.
However, testing the microwave revealed some issues. Engineers found that the design of the panel covering the heating device inside the microwave could result in the machine catching on fire.
Michael Pecht, an engineering professor, concluded that "there's a risk in using this machine for sure". Amazon has not commented on whether the microwave has had any improvement made to it. Although the retailer did say that "safety was a top priority".
Amazon has come under scrutiny in the past for allowing third-party sellers to distribute dangerous products. However, having this pressure piled onto themselves brings with it bigger concerns.
The investigation found that you could explain some of these reports through user error or other external factors. However, the number of reports suggests there were some fundamental flaws in the products themselves.
In theory, reviews using words like "fire" and "hazard" should automatically prompt the retailer to take action. The company, however, declined to provide specific details of thresholds for a review to take place.
By law, Amazon must immediately report "potentially hazardous" items to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This is so the agency can determine whether an official recall is necessary.
Amazon losing consumers' trust
Issues such as this may have the result of losing their customers trust. Especially if Amazon continues to sell potentially dangerous products.
These reviews tend to only represent about 1 or 2 per cent of all reviews on the products. However, the overall numbers still hold quite of a lot of concerns for Amazon and many feel they should have taken more action.
Amazon has declined to comment as to why certain products have been removed from the website after investigation and which ones have not. This lack of communication and notification to customers is what worries them the most.
How this effects Amazon going forward will be interesting. After this news has surfaced the company will likely have to respond publicly in order to maintain public trust. Just how they go about this will be worth taking note of.