CNN report documents safety concerns with AmazonBasics items

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CNN report documents safety concerns with AmazonBasics items

By David Salazar - 09/11/2020

A new investigative report from CNN is taking a look at potential safety issues with products sold under Amazon’s AmazonBasics private label. It notes that since 2016, some 1,500 reviews across 70 AmazonBasics products have mentioned items have exploded, caught fire, smoked, melted or seen electrical malfunctions, among other risks. 

Among the allegedly hazardous products that CNN was given access to were a USB cord that the owner said caught fire and melted and a microwave that the owner said caught fire. Though the USB cord was damaged too extensively to allow researchers to assess defects, tests at the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering found that turning on the microwave sparked and smoked, and that the panel covering the heating device was secured in a way that “could allow debris such as food or grease to collect behind it and possibly ignite." 

Amazon told CNN that “safety is a top priority” and the report also includes interviews with several former Amazon employees, including a former manager who worked in compliance before departing in 2015, during which time she said there was close oversight of Amazon’s suppliers, many of whom are located in China and Asia, to ensure cost-cutting efforts didn’t impact product safety.

CNN also notes, however, that the reviews only constitute a small percentage of total product purchases, and that AmazonBasics products are not the only consumer electronics that cause fires. Additionally, such factors as being used with a defective product, faulty or old wiring in the home and user error also factor into product fires. 

CNN said that 11 products whose reviews included the three or more reviews with words like “fire” or “hazard” no longer are for sale by Amazon, with some being removed as CNN was reporting the story. Additionally, Amazon has previously recalled two AmazonBasics items — a power bank and a space heater after receiving 53 reports on the power banks overheating and 25 regarding versions of the space heater overheating, sparking or burning. One product, an AmazonBasics battery charger, currently has more than 20 reviews out of 2,000 that mention melting, overheating and burning and still is for sale on the site, though Amazon said it had conducted an investigation that found “there were no broader design or safety concerns.”

To read the full report, click here