At the urging of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), two of the Internet’s largest auction houses, Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) and eBay, Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY), have agreed to assist consumers by including CPSC product recall information on their sites.
The CPSC says it has the power to order retail stores to remove hazardous or defective products from their shelves, but does not exercise similar control over person-to-person sales. Therefore, the commission is asking online auction sites — which facilitate thousands of person-to-person sales each day — to voluntarily help consumers protect themselves.
Though it has not named any other targets for its effort, the CPSC is urging all online auction sites to join the effort.
Dangerous and Deadly Products
“Hundreds of hazardous products have been banned or recalled by CPSC over the years because a defect or hidden hazard made them dangerous and sometimes deadly to consumers,” CPSC Chairman Ann Brown said.
“CPSC can get these products off of store shelves,” Brown added, “but it is more difficult to get them out of people’s homes. Many of these items can end up for sale by individuals online on the increasingly popular auction Web sites.”
The commission’s auction site initiative focuses on the sale of tools, exercise equipment, household items and children’s products, especially toys. “CPSC urges consumers to do a ‘Recall Double Check’ when using online auctions,” the commission said.
Easy to Check
Both buyers and sellers should check to ensure that products are safe before concluding online deals, the CPSC said.
Along with basic product recall information, Amazon and eBay are providing links to CPSC’s site for further details. The eBay page on product safety is accessible through links on both the bidder and seller forms as well as on the page called “Is my item allowed on eBay?”
Amazon.com said it plans to add a link to CPSC’s Web site in the confirmation e-mails it sends to bidders and sellers of tools, toys, exercise equipment and other products. Amazon.com also added links to CPSC from its “Prohibited Content” and “Asking Questions About an Item” pages.
The company said it will monitor its site for recalled products and remove them when necessary.
Site Monitoring for Safety
The auction site links are part of a larger effort by the CPSC to help protect online shoppers. CPSC began monitoring auction sites and other Internet sites in December through its Operation Safe Online Shopping, or SOS, project.
The commission monitors Web sites for recalled, illegal and potentially hazardous consumer products. The project is similar to a recently announced effort by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to detect fraudulent practices through automated Web site sweeps.