In a letter from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, US Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. and Jan Schakowsky told Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos that CNN’s recent reporting on AmazonBasics products had revealed “alarming product safety issues.”
“Amazon’s oversight of its own products has been grossly inadequate,” the letter from the two Democrats stated. “Despite starkly worded reviews and even photographs posted by consumers warning of the grave safety dangers experienced while using AmazonBasics products, it appears that Amazon has turned a blind eye to these problems, prioritizing sales at the expense of safety.”
AmazonBasics is one of the retailer’s popular private label lines, and CNN’s investigation found that dozens of AmazonBasics electronics remained for sale despite customers reporting the products had melted, exploded or burst into flames.
At least 1,500 reviews on the Amazon website, covering more than 70 items, described safety risks. Within those reviews, many consumers explicitly called out items as potentially dangerous — using terms such as “hazard” or “fire” or saying the product should be recalled.
Around 30 items with three or more reviews like this remained for sale on Amazon.com. Some became unavailable after CNN began its reporting, and at least four product pages were removed from the retailer’s site entirely — leaving behind dead URLs known by employees as “dog pages.”
“Especially troubling is Amazon’s habit of simply deleting product listings, with nothing more than ‘SORRY we couldn’t find that page,’ when it decides to take down a product — burying bad reviews and leaving no way for consumers to verify past purchases or to even learn that the product was deliberately taken down,” the lawmakers wrote.
“An untold number of AmazonBasics product listings have reportedly been surreptitiously removed. We are concerned that this practice may make it more difficult for safety regulators to investigate product hazards.”
Amazon did not comment directly on the letter but reiterated that “safety is a top priority.” The company said it takes a number of steps to ensure all AmazonBasics products are safe and high quality, such as selecting experienced manufacturers, monitoring customer feedback and testing items to ensure they pass safety and compliance standards both before and after they are available.
The retailer also said it thoroughly investigates safety concerns. “The outcome of the investigation varies on a case by case basis and may include removing the product from the store, adjusting the design of the product, notifying customers to stop using the product, or other appropriate action,” Amazon said. “We want customers to shop with confidence and if ever a customer has a concern, they can contact customer service and we will investigate.”
Pallone and Schakowsky included a list of detailed questions in their letter, asking for answers and additional information by October 21.
The lawmakers joined three US senators who expressed similar concerns in a letter to Bezos last month, writing that “Amazon must immediately stop the sale of dangerous and defective AmazonBasics products, recall them, and effectively and immediately notify consumers of potential risks.”
The only two recalls of AmazonBasics products were in 2018 and 2019. Other than these, the company has never publicly acknowledged any safety issues with the AmazonBasics brand.
This story has been updated to include a comment from Amazon.
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