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Would you trust a safety system based on Amazon reviews?

Amazon

A leaked government email has revealed a strange suggestion to replace the European standards mark that indicates if a product is considered safe by the manufacturer. Instead, it suggests using Amazon reviews – what do you think of this idea?

According to news reports, it seems that government officials are seeking ideas to change the UK safety system post-Brexit. And it looks like these ideas could weaken protections for consumers, in agreement with industry.

The news suggests that government officials have been approaching industry groups and asking for volunteers that would no longer have to demonstrate that they comply with existing product standards.

We can probably agree that the current safety regime hasn’t been working all that well – recent debacles with Whirlpool owned fire-risk tumble-dryers are a case-in-point. But is relying on Amazon’s customer reviews to show that a product is safe and conforming to safety standards really the answer?

Amazon reviews

At first, I thought this was a spoof from the Daily Mash. However, last night’s Evening Standard confirmed the leaked proposal.

The leaked messaged stated:

‘I actually wonder, given the UK consumer penchant for internet shopping, the extent to which an Amazon review will supersede any mark to demonstrate conformity with safety requirements’

In case you aren’t familiar with Amazon’s reviews, they’re created by registered Amazon members, and, according to Amazon’s website, you have to have been ‘successfully charged for the purchase of the physical or digital item’ in order to submit a review.

As a previous Amazon customer, I’ve found reviews helpful when deciding which boxset of Friends to buy, or if the Lord of the Rings extended edition Blu-ray is really worth the extra money (FYI, it is).

However, I’m not sure these reviews are really capable of setting the safety regime of the country. While there are some helpful reviews in there to help decide which DVD to buy, I personally wouldn’t solely rely on these reviews. After all, these customers are probably unlikely to be testing these products with safety criteria in mind.

I mean, we are referring to the same site where reviews like this appear:

Safety regime

As many of you will know, we’re pushing for the government to reform the UK’s product safety regime as it’s clear it’s not doing enough to protect us all. So news of a government department tasked with protecting consumers exploring such wild ideas is worrying.

In our opinion, it flies in the face of Ministerial commitments to not weaken key consumer protections through Brexit.

What do you think of this leaked suggestion to change the UK’s safety system? How would you improve safety as we leave the EU?

Comments
Member

OMG Lauren this is one country that goes by rules+regulations -it lives it ! I think all the regulars will be “up in arms ” about this . If TM wanted some way of losing the next election then this is one major reason . What,s going on in TM,s mind ?? she is Libra she should know better. Amazon reviews ?? to me this is an extreme insult to every citizen in this country I keep saying HMG are pulling this country down to Third World Status well if this goes through ALL my predictions of US big business running Britain will come true. This can only come from the Donald ,s America First policy . After all lost lives lost in that fire in London and she purposes this ? gunpowder please and a map of the House of Commons – Guy Fawkes where are you when we need you . Britain ?? the laughing stock of this world can you imagine what the Germans will say ?

Member

We were pretty surprised too, Duncan. I was very much hoping it was a Daily Mash spoof http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/

Member

I’ll wait until that august journal Private Eye tells us the truth 😛

Member

I think this Conversation should have been kept for April Fools day.

However, I am seriously concerned that our government will allow companies to take more responsibility for compliance with regulations. I recently met an Environmental Health Officer, who shared my concern about the current campylobacter problem, where our Food Standards Agency continues to warn the public not to wash chicken because of the extent of contamination with campylobacter. He suggested that I looked up the FSA document ‘Regulating Our Future’, which will effectively mean that we are reliant on the companies behaving responsibly.

Member

I couldn’t agree more, Wavechange… we share your concerns and we’re keeping a close eye on what’s being said.

Member

I would doubt there would be any departure from using international standards as the basis for safety – largely BS EN ones in the case of the UK. Anything we in the UK manufacture will have to comply with these standards if we are to have international business.

What we need is a campaign to get compulsory registration of safety-dependent products at the point of sale, and proper resourcing of Trading Standards to police the system.

Perhaps Which? would publish the leaked email in full, including the source. I’d like to identify the nutcase who proposed such a stupid idea.

Member

I wish we had the leaked email – the best I can offer at the moment is the Evening Standard article: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/the-latest-idea-from-a-brexit-official-replace-eu-safety-checks-with-amazon-reviews-a3650231.html

Member
bishbut says:
6 October 2017

The government is trying to pass on all it’s responsibilities to everyone else ,it does not want to be responsible for anything at all .Why are MPs elected ? are they just a waste of time and money ? do any of them want to do anything at all think they all are !