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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

UK plugs without fuses can be found online and are a fire risk if a fault develops. Here is an example of from the Amazon UK website:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Extension-Charging-Protection-Appliences-Travelling/product-reviews/B073ZDVWB6/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_hist_1?ie=UTF8&filterByStar=one_star&reviewerType=all_reviews#reviews-filter-bar

Looking at the one star reviews shows that one person has spotted the unfused plug and the other had a bang and flash.

There are 22 five star reviews. I wonder if anyone has noticed that the three sockets differ from the BS 1363 sockets we are all familiar with.

The sockets in the photo look as if they are designed to take a variety of plugs, probably including a two-pin Europlug. Without a fuse in the plug of the extension cable, the only protection will be the 32 amp circuit breaker or 30 amp fuse in the distribution board (fuse box). The Europlug is designed for a current of 2.5 amps. It will work but if there is a fault there could well be a fire.

I posted a link about a suspect laptop charger that was apparently sold by Dell, according to the Amazon website: https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/amazon-safety-brexit/#comment-1503350

Looking at the other “Dell” products I wonder if they are genuine Dell products.

I have my concerns about other websites too but I’m focusing on Amazon because it is relevant to our topic.

We are in agreement (?). Can we not persuade Which? to buy a number of suspect products from the Amazon site and check whether they are genuine and safe (or not). Chargers, batteries, plugs and socket strips as examples. Any other suggestions?

You would think if manufacturers like Samsung, Apple, Dell say saw counterfeit products being advertised they would want to take action themselves. Or is Amazon too “important” to challenge? The two-pin plug saga has gone on and on without any effective action taken, it seems.

I’m sure that manufacturers are very well aware of counterfeit products. Back in 2013, Apple offered free iPhone chargers in exchange for counterfeit and third party adapters, albeit for a limited period of time and maybe as a publicity stunt: https://www.apple.com/uk/support/usbadapter-takeback/ Counterfeit Dyson fans feature in a recent ‘Fake Britain’ programme. It’s very difficult to know whether a product is a third party product that complies with safety requirement or a dangerous counterfeit. We don’t know to what extent manufacturers do take action to alert the authorities to dangerous counterfeit products.

Which? could buy suspect chargers etc, but from what I have seen over the years, Which? generally identifies problems (sometimes using undercover investigation) or is informed of them, and then passes its concerns to all the relevant organisations. Here it would be relevant to contact Trading Standards, both over the potentially dangerous products and the failure of Amazon to ensure products on its website are safe. I would like it confirmed that since money goes into Amazon’s account it must have overall responsibility and cannot simply leave it up to Marketplace traders to behave responsibly. Even if Which? was to buy some products that look as if they may be unsafe, that would not help with those products that look OK but might be a fire risk or could electrocute.

Since Which? raised concerns about two-pin plugs years ago, I’m deeply disappointed that Amazon and others are still selling them. I believe that it is probably seen as a convenience issue and the dangers are not recognised. That would fit in with us being assured by Patrick Steen that Amazon will exchange goods with the wrong plug.

I don’t want to be prescriptive about how the problem is addressed but will keep pushing for an effective solution.

It bothers me that nothing has been done. The business seems to just go on as normal. Which? is there to protect consumers. I’d like it to tell us what action it can take or, if none, why not.

“Spot checks” by Which? could identify if Amazon is failing in its responsibilities to allow the sale of safe and genuine products through its portal. If that were widely publicised then maybe Amazon would think harder about its policy.

Would it be fair for Which? to target Amazon when other retailers are also selling dodgy products? Imagine if Which? had targeted Marks & Spencer a few years ago for selling chicken that was significantly more contaminated than that sold by Tesco. Many people love Amazon and would not want to see it singled out.

Which? does focus on particular companies when there is an obvious reason – for example VW over the emissions problems, Whirlpool over fire risk, and Dixons over their supplementary charges for laptops.

As with the problem of many being overcharged for energy, I want something done about companies selling dangerous counterfeit goods online but I’m happy to leave it up to Which? to decide on the best strategy.

Maybe a service like ActionFraud could be used by the public to report obvious concerns but that could allow many dangerous items to go undetected.

Seems to be a failure of logic surely. Ignoring the biggest seller of fake dangerous goods on the basis of “fairness” is absurd.

Amazon and fairness anyway would seem an odd concept given the extreme lengths they have gone to in order to drive out or weaken competitors so they can buy them.

Of course Amazon are popular given the seamier side is hidden in a welter of favourable media inches. However Which? surely needs only look at the dangerous stuff and consider what it’s mandate is and whether a judicial review of TSO’s not enforcing the law in respect of dangerous articles being in the “marketplace”.

People may have forgotten that through Amazon many dangerous motorised toys with lithium batteries were imported to the UK.

When they started burning in people’s homes Amazon refunded the money and said dump the dangerous goods at the recycling.
So there was no effective recall at all, and the clearing up of the duff appliances was a cost to the respective Councils.

How many people pocketed the refund and then sold the machine at a boot fair or are still using them?

AND as for drugs unsafe and fake
blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2014/05/is-it-illegal-to-buy-drugs-on-amazon.html
eimed.com/2013/11/amazon-sells-fake-counterfeit-nutritional-products-to-unsuspecting-customers/

I completely agree with you, Patrick, but I strongly doubt that Which? would focus on a single company selling counterfeit goods when others are doing the same. I also agree that it would be worth considering a judicial review, as Which? did with Peterborough Trading Standards, the primary authority in the Whirlpool problems.

In my opinion, Amazon has been allowed to become too large and powerful, but that’s capitalism for you. I have bought little more than books from Amazon and don’t do that now.

You may remember that ‘Socketman’ reported that Amazon UK was selling pepper spray, which is illegal in this country. Searching for pepper spray shows products that state they are legal in the UK. He seems to have succeeded there. Let’s all pull together and try and get Which? to take action to put an end to dangerous electrical goods sold online.

The more examples we can find the better.

Patrick – Are you referring to hoverboards when you mentioned dangerous toys?

Why should Which? not pursue an individual company if it has good reason. If it benefits consumers then it is worth doing. “Many people love Amazon…” What relevance has that got? Does it exempt Amazon from meeting its legal obligations – if it were to be found not to? If unsafe products are on the market I would hope a rejuvenated Trading Standards would deal with the perpetrators, and I would like Which? to press for their reinstatement as a force to deal with illegal trading matters. But at the moment Which? could use their resources for our benefit perhaps.

You mention Whirlpool. I had hoped Which? might get hold of one or two defective Indesit dryers and check whether they would have met the European safety standard – as far as I know no one was reported as doing this.

The Whirlpool judicial review came 18 months after the event was disclosed. Simply being advised to turn off the supply to your machine was of no help to the hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of owners still waiting for their potentially dangerous machines to be repaired, refunded or replaced. I’d hardly regard that as a success. It should have been properly dealt with far sooner, so owners did not suffer “unreasonable inconvenience” when the Sale of Goods Act quite clearly states the buyers rights when they have been sold an unsafe product.

How come all the links you have posted involve Amazon, wavechange, and yet you then seem reticent about singling them out? They are a major seller and distributor of products and if they include unsafe ones it seem perfectly reasonable to investigate them.

I’m not reticent at all, Malcolm, and this topic relates to Amazon. I expect that if I was to look at eBay I would find some of the larger traders have some dodgy products. Many years ago I wanted a charger for an antiquated Apple laptop in order to remove photos that I had not included in my backups. I thought I was buying new surplus Apple stock but what I received was a third party product which may or may not have been safe.

If Which? decides to take on Amazon over two-pin plugs or dodgy electrical goods I will be very pleased but for reasons I’ve explained I would be surprised if it happens. Do join me in an Amazon boycott.

I had commented on the Whirlpool situation but deleted my comment because it was a bit off-topic. I think BSI should be asked to test used dryers such as the Whirlpool brands that appear to accumulate lint.

I absolutely agree that the advice from Whirlpool should have been challenged much earlier. If I had my way, Whirlpool would have lost their licence to trade and maybe we could take such extreme measures when we are no longer part of the EU.

Is Amazon just too big for anyone to do anything about like all multinational companies ?

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Malcolm – Here is a questionable extension lead on sale by an eBay shop: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2-Way-3M-Meter-13amp-Extension-Lead-Switched-UK-Mains-Plug-Socket-2-USB-Port-/322571739539?epid=23004277512&hash=item4b1ac62193:g:G1EAAOSwPK1ZVGnP

Note the shape of the tips of the brass pins is not as specified in the standard or simply compare with a normal plug. The colour coding of the insulation is unusual.

Many of the plugs shown on eBay are photographed with the pins not visible. This is sometimes done to hide a problem.

Patrick: in your post earlier about the evils of Amazon you conflated three quite separate issues. Selling faulty or illegal goods: the seller’s fault. However, to support your contentions you added “How many people pocketed the refund and then sold the machine at a boot fair or are still using them? “ but that’s noting to do with Amazon. That’s criminality on behalf of individual customers, for which there are separate remedies.

And discussing fairness in the context of a major corporation eliminating its competition is akin to teaching baby wolves to become vegetarians. We live in a capitalist society and if enough people feel Amazon is being nasty and unfair then the answer is to stop patronising them. Although, frankly, any company that wants to compete only has to offer next day delivery, free postage, unimpeachable customer services and finally, lower prices than Amazon. Then they’ll be the bad guys, I imagine.

You can’t enjoy the advantages of a capitalist society then complain about any company that’s actually extremely good at it. But then – the British do seem to have a penchant for attacking any organisation or individual that becomes successful.

I am very happy with Amazon: it has the best customer service I’ve ever encountered, the best ‘phone service, it delivers goods quickly, and – in short – treats its customers as paying customers should be treated. On those rare occasions it makes an error it goes the extra mile to make up for that,

I also review on Amazon and Amazon identifies me as having bought the product or having used it.

Yes. However for the life of me I could not recall the name : (

Some of the hoverboards had chargers that went on fire too. If our government manages to set up a proper registration and recall system, it’s important that there is a means of collecting and disposing of dangerous goods so that they are not simply passed on.

I realise that you are strongly in favour of Amazon Ian but you gloss over the downsides in your rush to defend them. If I recall correctly are you not on an Amazon scheme?

If you can find me a firm in the UK that has received so many generous handouts I will be surprised. And how does this happen – Govts and Councils falling over themselves to provide cheap land and build road networks for the sake of a few hundred low paid jobs. Incidentally jobs custom made for replacement by robots cementing even further the stupidity.

Collectively we are destroying the local infrastructure of employment , shops and taxes in our eagerness for convenience and saving pennies. This will come back to bite us as we view hollowed out towns with no shops, reliant on deliveries from giant warehouses, and wondering why there are so many unemployed and how we are to pay the benefit.

The obvious error is that warehouses and transport are not taxed correctly giving them an immense advantage over most shops.

The average consumer is not made aware of the long term effects until in the smaller towns and villages lose their shops which becomes inconvenient, and then when they lose their jobs they then realise what is happening and has happened.

Perhaps taxing warehoused goods to pay for the unemployed would bring home the direct correlation.

Amazon…. gotta love ’em.
Widely reported about so they have a commercial advantage there. Only because they’re so big, global.

They essentially operate virtually, as one employee at a distribution centre told me, for distribution paying as little as possible that has also been widely reported. So sure, you can do free delivery if you don’t pay for it but for most businesses, that’s not an option.

Most small businesses would be morally challenged to even try that.

So a fair marketplace… no. Not at all. To say that it is would not be true, Amazon get away with a lot simply due to the sheer size of the business.

Then, rumour has it, that if small retailers that sell through Amazon do sell enough of a product then it has to be on Amazon Prime and warehoused at the retailer’s cost, that’s not cheap.

All the while paying Amazon Tax on each transaction etc, etc so all told the cost of selling on Amazon for many is simply not a sustainable proposition.

So yeah you can get great service and prices as spoken of but, at what cost?

Frankly, Amazon is great for some things but for a lot, you can find cheaper with easily as good or better service elsewhere.

As to using reviews from consumers for safety… are they mad? Has someoene or a whole department finally completely and totally lost the plot in the civil service?

Amazon Marketplace it little better than Ebay and, about as regulated is also. Which I can sum up in two words, Wild West!

To trust reviews from that source in such an environment, especially when they are flaky at times to downright untrue is, in my view, a very, very bad idea.

And the notion of adding legitimacy to a business by way of this type of endorsement given Amazon operating as it does, for me, is an abhorrent notion.

K.

[Sorry Kenneth, your comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

Hi Kenneth, we’ve made a tweak to your comment, this is to protect you as a commenter. Please be mindful about the comments made about organisations/businesses/other people. Check out our community guidelines for extra information, or you can drop us an email.

Taking away the final sentence, which is not really in dispute, everything else you say about them can be achieved in two simple ways: people stop buying on principle, and workers refuse to work there because it’s too hard. The simple fact is they don’t – do either, and blaming a TransNat for doing things it simply can is illogical.

And I agree with much of what you say: the marketplace is decidedly dodgy at best, and I casn’t ever see reviews from Amazon being used as standards. But, then – where has anyone with any authority ever suggested otherwise?

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Patrick: your phrase you gloss over the downsides in your rush to defend them. is factually wrong, quite apart from demonstrating your bias.

Let’s look at what you say and compare it with reality:

1. I’m not sure what you mean by an ‘Amazon scheme’, but I do write reviews of products for them and my reviews are scrupulously fair.

2. Govts and Councils falling over themselves to provide cheap land and build road networks for the sake of a few hundred low paid jobs. That makes some assumptions which I doubt you can defend. The base work rate will be minimum wage and promotion prospects within Amazon can be very good. But you conveniently overlook two crucial factors: they provide an excellent opportunity for consumers to compare prices and products in one place. Would you rather we did as in days of yore, when you took a bus or train to the city centre, visited numerous shops to find a product and still couldn’t locate what you wanted? Dealt with rain, other people, wind, cold, sore feet and frustration? You’re welcome to it, mate. Me – I prefer convenience, warmth, comfort and excellent service. And you also overlook their scrupulously fair policy with regard to prices.

3. we are destroying the local infrastructure of employment , shops and taxes Heard this numerous times, heard it in the ’60s as a child when supermarkets moved into town. The exact words and sentences you use could come straight out of a ’60s magazine or newspaper. It never happened. So how you can be so sure it will this time around defeats me.

4. Tax payment. Now, this time you haven’t touched on that because the simple fact is that Amazon do pay taxes. They pay taxes on their distribution centres, they pay Salary taxes for their employees, they pay VAT on good and services they provide, and they pay tax wherever they’re legally so obliged.

All this overlooks the fact that Amazon hasn’t got rid of ’employment, shops or taxes’. They moved them, indeed, but parcel delivery companies, distribution systems, software writers, the Post Office, Airline carriers, Vehicle service centres, cleaners, cardboard box manufacturers, cardboard material producers, laser ink suppliers, laser printer manufacturers and many more I can’t be bothered to list have never had it so good.

But your main point until in the smaller towns and villages lose their shops which becomes inconvenient, and then when they lose their jobs fails to note how society has changed and continues to change. Is Amazon responsible for the closure of Village Banks? No – because that started happening a long time before Amazon existed and yet there’s a very strong argument that the banks have led the way in the deterioration of services in tiny villages.

What I suspect you hark back to is a time that never existed: tiny hamlets, children skipping along the village green, church bells tolling in the background, horses meandering through the quaint tracks, pulling hay-filled carts, while poppy seeds waft through the barmy summer air, tiny village shops where the farmer’s wife produced her own butter and where everyone was served with everything they needed at a moment’s notice.

Never happened. Doesn’t happen now, although I live relatively near the sort of village about which you dream. The largest shop is a Coop, and the remainder are all butchers, greengrocers, tiny electrical stores and tourist traps. Need something not utterly run-of-the-mill? Forget it.

Amazon may not be perfect but it has kept pressure on prices, has outstanding customer service and that’s a rare commodity. Apart from Amazon, only John Lewis, the Coop, Boots (in some situations),Waitrose and Sainsbury come close.

I ca(s)n’t ever see reviews from Amazon being used as standards. But, then – where has anyone with any authority ever suggested otherwise?” Which|? seem to give the source some credence.

The issue some have with Amazon is not their success as a seller – I use them – but whether they have responsibility for fake and unsafe items that they appear to sell, directly or indirectly, under their name through their portal. If we, as individuals, go on the net we can find all sorts of cheap but rubbish, unsafe, products and import them directly. That is our personal responsibility. But when we do that through a UK company many would expect them to ensure what we received was, at the very least, safe and met appropriate standards.

To my knowledge, Which? have never clarified Amazon’s legal position in this, only advised those of us who can identify a duff product to return it for a refund.

Yep; it would be good to know the precise position, I agree.

Ian – I have not the time currently to point out the fallacies in your response but here is something to be getting on with which amounts to unfair assistance.

” In 2012, Amazon was attacked by MPs on parliament’s public accounts committee for avoiding UK tax. Yet in the same period, the online retailer was awarded £16.5m in grants by the administrations of Scotland and Wales to help build distribution centres. To link the Wales plant to the transport network, the Welsh assembly built the mile-long “Ffordd Amazon road” at an additional cost of £3m.”

Very nice when you have that kind of assistance to help undercut other retailers.

And then how employees are they treated
nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-in-a-bruising-workplace.html

That story is about the permanently employed but the workhouse workers are primarily temporary. Humans are nice people working them as robots ought not to be encouraged even if it means waiting an extra couple of days for “fulfillment”.

And I refer you back to the comments I posted earlier. Two items there: Tax avoidance in the PAC was because they don’t pay corporation tax in the UK. They do, however, pay all the other forms of taxation, yet it seems the PAC feels that merely because they sell to UK citizens they should be headquartered here (as that’s the only way to get them to pay corporation tax). It’s not Amazon’s fault; unless you’re saying companies shuldn’t use the legal systems to maximise profit…

In terms of grants I really don’t see how they differ from any of the other major companies, all of whom get sweeteners to get them to move to their neck of the woods. Please don’t say it’s Amazon’s fault for accepting money paid to them to encourage them to set up somewhere. Or d’you simply not like that because they’re American? Perhaps you should turn your attention to our national media – such as the DFM, the Times, the Sun and all the other newspapers owned by foreigners or ex-pats. Interesting to read about the DFM’s tax history…

And I simply dson’t understand why you are always accusing Amazon of treating their workers badly. If the Government’s to be believed we currently have record low unemployment, so surely if the workers were being treated as slaves they’d have all been on strike or left?

This is about Amazon and safety, so how can we tackle that?

I reality, this is about a rumour and little more.

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Indeed. Some solid information needed to give it any sort of (in)credibility.

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I am referring to the foundations on which this convo is built – like the email – duncan.

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I’m sure you can find some dodgy electrical goods online, Duncan.

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I don’t really follow what happens in the US, although they continue to publish some good scientific papers. I also appreciate that many developments in the US are followed by the UK. Thanks to globalisation we are likely to lose more of our identity and I would not be surprised to see a move towards European electrical systems. Bayonet cap lamps are fast becoming replaced by ones with screw caps.

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If I was starting from scratch I’d have lamps with screw caps.

Globalisation (despite being so poorly defined) can be a force for good. It’s one reason why I suspect it’s a mistake to isolate countries like North Korea. It only increases their xenophobia. Welcome them with open arms, encourage them to export and before you know it they’ll be competing with S Korea, driving down prices and desperate not to start any wars that might threaten their profits. Funny old world.

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The popular reason for boycotting Amazon seems to be tax avoidance. I would be interested to know how many boycott them because of globalisation.

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Back on topic then, Amazon will sell you a book on basic first aid. That’s probably their most useful contribution to safety.

Boycotts don’t work. Most people cannot be bothered, don’t know the issues or don’t feel strongly enough.

That’s right. In short, people get the service they deserve.

Education is a wonderful thing but the media seems inclined to cover up most business errors and nastiness. Does the consumer body Which? have an article and history of cartels to educate people?

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The media is responsible for many things they promote the wrong things at the whim of an editor but very occasionally can do a little good but very rarely ALL MEDIA I ! I have given up with it all the rubbish it publishes EVERY DAY It controls what many people believe and do following everything like sheep or even Lemmings jumping off a cliff

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@ldeitz This is still about the Government, Amazon and CE marking. Have Which? had a response from the BEIS yet?

@ldeitz, thanks Lauren 🙂

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Well, FB et. al. are already publishers in the eyes of the law. So it’s probably a good job she has no idea what she’s talking about.

@ldeitz Hi Lauren – Thanks very much for having the counterfeit connecting lead removed promptly from the Amazon website. The link I gave in this post is now dead: https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/amazon-safety-brexit/#comment-1503298

Unfortunately, the extension cable with an unfused mains plug is still available from various suppliers: https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/amazon-safety-brexit/#comment-1503352

It’s Trading Standards that should be dealing with this sort of problem, but most of the public will not recognise dangerous electrical products otherwise the reviews would be full of warnings.

I wonder if Which? can help us get rid of dangerous and counterfeit products from the Amazon website. The company should be checking that goods sold by their Marketplace traders are at least not obviously dangerous.

We keep asking Which? to expose the extent of this problem, and to give a view on the (il)legality of this sort of trading portal and its responsibility to ensure unsafe products are not sold to unsuspecting UK customers. I’d like Which? to pursue this, but if not I’d like Which>? to tell us why it won’t.

Hey Malcolm, we’re trying to get a better understanding from the government on what their plans are for product safety. The Amazon reviews suggestion was deeply concerning to us but we have nothing to update you on, at the moment. Next Tuesday we will be in Parliament giving evidence on product safety, as the government collects views on the product safety system.

@awhittle, Thanks Alex. It’s good to get such quick responses! Frankly, the suggestion that Amazon become the provider of official safety measures I find ludicrous – not because of their quite inappropriate ability to do this, but because I do not see any reason why the present method should change. I would, though, be interested to hear what BEIS have to say.

No, this is about Amazon as a retailer and their responsibilities for the sale and distribution of unsafe and/or fake products. For several years examples of products shown to be non-compliant, unsafe and dangerous have been given that were sold either by Amazon, or through their marketplace that goes under the Amazon name; many people will believe this carries an assurance of legitimate goods. I (and I believe others) think that Amazon have a legal responsibility and should be penalised whenever unsafe products – particularly, but not only, those covered by the CE mark – are received by UK customers. Simply advising us to return the goods for a refund is totally inadequate; many (most) customers will not know they have a defective product until it causes a problem,

I don’t know, Malcolm. I believe that Amazon has legal responsibility because the products are offered for sale on the Amazon website and Amazon takes the customer’s money, even if it passes on most of it.

In the examples I have given, the problem is obvious but there may be many safety issues that could only be seen by dismantling and inspection of products.

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Thanks Duncan. I suppose that travel agents might be a similar case. I made a successful claim against our university travel agent when KLM lost my luggage.

duncan, in handling the transaction they are a beneficiary from the sale and should, therefore, in my view bear responsibility for what is sold. If you were an intermediary in selling drugs – by putting the addict in touch with the dealer, and taking money for that service, then I believe you would be liable at least as an accessory (duncan, I don’t imply you are either an accessory or an intermediary – just a for instance 🙂 )

We could do with some advice from the Which? Legal team. If Amazon can escape responsibility for having dangerous and counterfeit goods on sale on their website then new legislation is needed.

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All the more reason why we need legal advice relating to how the company conducts business with customers in the UK. Which? has a legal team that could help us.

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It is not what Amazon says it’s obligations are, it is what our laws say. A legal view would be handy.

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Amazon UK is registered here as far as I know and, if so, is subject to UK laws and regulations. It has been criticised for allowing overseas traders to avoid vat yet they are required to stock their products in the Amazon warehouse to allow next-day deliveries. Amazon are inextricably linked with such people, it seems to me, and should be responsible for the operation they are involved in. (HMRC have also been criticised for neglecting to seal with this vat problem).

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@ldeitz, did you ever get a response from BEIS to confirm “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”. Or was this all “fake news” (credit to Donald T).

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