- A new investigation found a selection of “potentially deadly” items being sold on Amazon, eBay, and Wish’s marketplaces.
- The investigation, which was conducted by UK non-profit Electrical Safety First, found that of the 15 items that were tested, 14 failed UK safety tests.
- In the most extreme example, a hairdryer purchased on Wish’s site set alight after Electrical Safety First tested what would happen if it restricted the airflow on the machine.
- Electrical Safety First believes that these examples are “snapshot of a much wider problem,” caused by the lack of effective policing on these three sites.
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Amazon, Wish, and eBay have been referred to as the “Wild West” of the web after a new investigation uncovered a series of “potentially deadly” items sold on their marketplaces.
The investigation, which was conducted by UK non-profit Electrical Safety First, found that of the 15 items that were tested, 14 failed UK safety tests. These items were purchased from Amazon’s third-party marketplace, Wish, and eBay.
In the most extreme example, a hairdryer purchased on Wish’s site set alight after Electrical Safety First tested what would happen if it restricted the airflow on the machine.
Other items, including hair removers and fake GHD hair straighteners, were also deemed unsafe for the customer to use after tests showed that they were at risk of giving the user an electric shock.
Electrical Safety First believes that these examples are a “snapshot of a much wider problem,” caused by the lack of effective policing on these three sites.
Amazon has been strongly criticized for this in the past, especially as its marketplace – its network of third-party sellers which sell and distribute items through the Amazon network – continues to grow at a rapid rate. These sellers accounted for 58% of Amazon’s gross merchandise revenue in 2018.
There are numerous examples of previous issues with faulty and dangerous products being listed on its site.
In September, a Wall Street Journal report revealed that thousands of items including children’s toys and medication for adults were being sold on the site but were not deemed safe by regulators. In October, a CNBC investigation found that third-party sellers were also shipping expired food items to customers.
In a statement emailed to Business Insider, a spokesperson for Amazon said that “safety is a top priority at Amazon.”
He continued: “We require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from being listed in our stores.”
The spokesperson confirmed that the products mentioned in this new investigation have now been removed from its site.
Both Wish and eBay have encountered similar issues. UK consumer watchdog Which? found examples of unsafe toys being sold on eBay earlier this month and earlier in the year, faulty smoke machines were found to be listed on both eBay and Wish.
Wish was not immediately available to comment when contacted by Business Insider.
In a statement emailed to Business Insider, a spokesperson for eBay said that it “proactively” enforces its product safety policy and uses algorithms to stop unsafe products from being listed.
“Our security team continuously patrols our marketplaces and will remove items and take appropriate action against sellers who breach our policies,” the spokesperson said. She added that 5 million listings were blocked by its algorithms between October 2018 and October 2019.
“Marketplaces are swiftly becoming the Wild West of the web, with serious regulation now needed to tackle the issue,” Electrical Safety First wrote in a statement to the press on Tuesday.
The agency is now calling for the UK government to take action and introduce legislation that would require these marketplaces to adequately police their sites for dangerous goods. It also called on the government to beef up enforcement at ports and airports to prevent items from entering the country in the first place.