Fires and explosions: Amazon’s own brand products under fire

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In hundreds of reviews of Amazon basics products, Amazon customers describe how the items they bought caught fire, exploded, melted or had some other malfunction, according to an analysis by the US news broadcaster CNN. However, many of these products are still for sale.

According to the report, CNN found more than 1,500 customer reviews for over 70 Amazon Basics products that reported electrical defects that caused the item to explode, burn, melt, or suddenly start smoking. None of these articles were offers from third-party sellers, but rather products from Amazon itself. Some reviews were written as early as 2016, while others were published this month. Microwaves, USB cables, chargers, paper shredders and surge protectors – all of these items were rated as defective by customers.

About 30 products that received three or more fire incident reviews were still for sale at the time the CNN report was published. Some products with similar ratings had already been removed from the Amazon store and others were no longer for sale, according to the CNN report.

However, the news channel CNN also noted that the cautionary reviews only apply to some of the Amazon basics products. And that defects in electrical devices are generally not uncommon and by no means only occur with Amazon products. However, experts told CNN that reports of defective electronics being sold by Amazon were still a cause for concern.

The report also posted screenshots of the reviews, which included photos of items that burned. For example, in a June 2019 review, an Amazon Basics car charger “caused a mini-explosion and sparks flew everywhere” when the customer plugged it into their car.

Another customer wrote that an Amazon microwave caught fire when her eight-year-old daughter tried to warm up a bowl of macaroni. A power strip also caught fire, according to a 2016 report. The reviewer commented, “After all the fire reports, why are these items still selling?”

CNN bought two of those Amazon basics, according to reviews, on fire – a USB cable and a microwave – and asked the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering to test them. According to the researchers at the failure analysis lab, the USB cable was too damaged for investigation. However, according to them, the microwave actually posed a security risk, as it “heated up so much that it could cause a fire,” as engineer Michael Pecht told the news channel. “This is more than a reliability problem. It is a potential security problem ”. However, Amazon assured that the microwave is safe to use.

A company spokesperson wrote in an email to “Security is a top priority at Amazon because we know that customers expect our products to be safe and of high quality. We take proactive steps to ensure this: For example, we work with independent laboratories to set safety and control standards for our products; we select experienced manufacturers who meet our quality, safety and social responsibility criteria; we test products to make sure they meet safety and quality standards; we monitor customer feedback for signs of safety or quality issues; and we regularly test the private label products available from us. “

The company also said it would look into any complaint made by customers. In response to the CNN report, Amazon published a blog post describing the steps Amazon is taking to ensure the safety of its products.

Some customer reviews on Amazon products that caught fire have been filed with the U.S. Consumer Protection Commission. This authority in the USA decides whether companies have to officially recall certain products. After dozens of reviews of overheated power strips and sparking fan heaters, Amazon already had to recall two Amazon basics products in 2018 and 2019.

Amazon launched the Basics product line in 2009. The products are marketed as cheaper alternatives to branded items. As a rule, these articles are advertised on their own website and often given the label “Amazon’s Choice”.

This article was translated from English and edited by Ilona Tomić. You can read the original here.


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