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Amazon reportedly lists thousands of unsafe or banned products

Amazon is reportedly selling thousands of products that are misidentified, banned or declared unsafe by federal agencies, according to a Wall Street Journal survey. It found that no fewer than 4,152 items that met the criteria were freely available to buy at Amazon's store.

The list of unlabelled, banned and unsafe products found by Journal is shocking, including "FDA-approved" products the agency has never tried, medicines that lacked child safety warnings, banned sleeping bags for babies, illegally imported prescription drugs, electronics that incorrectly claim UL-certified safety assessments, toys with unsafe amounts of lead or potential choking hazard and more. Many of the products found had the company's Amazon Choice label, which is not something you should automatically rely on. Perhaps worst of all, the survey found at least 1

57 items that Amazon said were explicitly prohibited.

The question here is Amazon's huge network of third-party sellers who sell freely on Amazon and even ship from the company's warehouse if they participate in the "Fulfilled by Amazon" program . Product pages for third-party sellers can be hard to see apart from “Sold by Amazon.com” articles. A small line of text is the only thing that indicates who the actual seller is.

But there is a big difference between buying from Amazon and buying from another place to Amazon. Amazon does not take legal responsibility for unsafe products because technically it is not the one selling it. Any disputes must be settled with the third party seller.

It used to not be that way, but as market sellers have exploded on stage through Amazon, the company's moderation of these listings (made by a combination of human workers and machine learning flags) simply couldn't keep up with the volume of products. Contrary to a major shift in policy toward Amazon's end, it appears that customers will continue to be on their own when it comes to making smart purchases from the electronic retail giant, especially when it comes to third-party sellers. The Journal & # 39; s Joanna Stern has some suggestions on how to avoid unsafe or other iffy purchases.

Amazon has since responded to WSJ its survey with a blog post, in which the company shared more information on how it approves third-party sellers and the tools it uses to try to weed out problematic listings. In the post, "We invest significant resources to protect our customers and have built robust programs designed to ensure that products offered for sale in our store are safe and compatible."

Update August 23 at 1 p.m. 15.25 : Added statement from Amazon regarding preventive measures for problematic products.

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