Amazon
TECHNOLOGY

Amazon denies reports of unsafe products

BY Dan Berthiaume

The e-tail giant is defending what it says is an industry-leading product safety and compliance program.

A widely reported Wall Street Journal article released on Friday, Aug. 23 said an investigation revealed that more than 4,000 items for sale on Amazon, many of them provided by third-party sellers, have been declared unsafe or banned by federal agencies, or feature misleading labeling. The article cited specific examples such as toys and medications that do not include necessary warnings for children and banned infant sleeping mats. According to the WSJ, Amazon has removed or changed more than 2,000 of the listings since the article was first posted.

In a corporate blog post also dated Friday, Aug. 23, Amazon issued a direct response to the article which mentioned the Wall Street Journal by name. “In 2018 alone, we invested over $400 million to protect our store and our customers and built robust programs to ensure products offered are safe, compliant, and authentic,” Amazon said in the post.

According to Amazon, its new seller account vetting includes a number of verifications and uses proprietary machine learning technology to help prevent unethical sellers from registering or listing products. The e-tailer also says products offered in Amazon stores must comply with applicable laws and regulations, as well as Amazon’s policies.

“For example, we require toys to be tested to relevant safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” Amazon said in the post. “We have a dedicated global team of compliance specialists that review submitted safety documentation, and we have additional qualification requirements that sellers must meet to offer products.”

In 2018, Amazon says its teams and technologies proactively blocked more than 3 billion suspect listings for various forms of abuse, including non-compliance, before they were listed. Once a product is available in an Amazon store, the e-tailer says it continuously scans listings and updates to find products that might present a concern.

“Every few minutes, our tools review the hundreds of millions of products, scan the more than 5 billion daily changes to product detail pages, and analyze the tens of millions of customer reviews that are submitted weekly for signs of a concern and investigate accordingly,” Amazon said in the post. “Our tools use natural language processing and machine learning, which means new information is fed into our tools daily so they can learn and constantly get better at proactively blocking suspicious products.”

Other steps Amazon says it takes to ensure product safety and compliance include enabling regulatory agencies, industry organizations, brands, customers, and customer service teams to report safety issues. Amazon also says it is able to trace and directly notify customers who purchased a particular product online and alert them to a potential safety issue. In addition, Amazon cites work with agencies including the Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Product Safety Commission, as well as industry working groups and committees.

To read the full WSJ article, click here

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