Amazon Counterfeit Destroys $1 Million Home, Injures Children
Amazon’s unvetted sellers risky for consumers.
March 15, 2017 - Los Angeles, CA – Amazon has a counterfeit problem, and it has proven dangerous and potentially deadly for consumers. The problem is that anybody, anywhere, can open a shop on Amazon and sell just about anything on the website.
Amazon lends its brand and marketing which aid the sale of counterfeit products from unvetted global sellers. The products appear right next to authentic items and convey Amazon’s endorsement and the illusion they are from Amazon. Many counterfeit items are indistinguishable from their authentic counterparts and consumers often don't know items are offered from unknown global sellers.
A Tennessee family is suing Amazon for $30 million after a counterfeit FITURBO® FI hoverboard caught fire and completely destroyed their $1 million Nashville home in 2016, injuring two of the family’s four children. The plaintiffs contend the hoverboard is counterfeit and claim the product was sold through Amazon Fulfillment according to the lawsuit obtained by The Counterfeit Report.
The incident, injuries, complete destruction of the family’s home and lifetime possessions, and near death of their children, highlight the substantial risk of buying products from unvetted Amazon sellers. This product was dangerous, primarily because of the poorly manufactured lithium batteries which posed a significant risk of fire and personal injury, or death.
According to the complaint and circumstances of the sale and delivery, indications are that that the hoverboard sold on Amazon was not a FITURBO® F1 as advertised, but rather was a counterfeit product from China with a counterfeit Samsung lithium battery.
Samsung officials inspected the hoverboard battery purchased by the family as well as an intact battery from an identical product sold through Amazon's website. Samsung confirmed that it did not manufacture the lithium battery in the product purchased by the family, and the battery was not manufactured in a manner consistent with Samsung practices and procedures, concluding the battery represented as an "Original Samsung Advanced Battery" on the Amazon listing is counterfeit.
A lawyer for the family, Steve Anderson, speaking with the Tennessean identified the listed seller of the hoverboard, "W-Deals," as a sham business registered to a New York City apartment and hasn't responded to lawyers. "We've spent months investigating it and to this day I don't know who manufactured this product, and it doesn't appear that Amazon does," added Mr. Anderson.
Tennessee product liability law holds a seller responsible if the manufacturer cannot be found.
An investigation led fire department investigators to determine the fire was caused by a "FITURBO F1" hoverboard. A subsequent investigation revealed friends of the family had experienced a small fire when their "FITURBO F1" hoverboard caught fire in its battery compartment.
(Image: Nashville Fire Department)
A total of eight manufacturers and two retailers have issued a recall of more than 500,000 hoverboards in the U.S. The recall was coordinated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission following months of safety warnings and reports of the devices self-combusting. "We are urging consumers to act quickly," CPSC chairman Elliot Kaye told ABC News. "We've concluded pretty definitively that these are not safe products the way they were designed."
The recall includes popular hoverboard brands such as Swagway, Razor, Airwalk and iMoto. Retailers that are also recalling hoverboards include Overstock.com and Boscov's (a store in Pennsylvania). (NY daily news)
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating dozens of fires across the United States thought to be caused by hoverboards, said Tennessee State Fire Marshalls. The Plaintiff’s Radcliff Drive fire is among those being investigated.
Amazon has asserted that they "did not in any way handle, package or mail the product" but ceased hoverboard sales entirely in 2016.
Hoverboards are not the only dangerous products offered on Amazon. For example; Apple recently claimed that 90% of Apple Chargers it purchased directly from Amazon were fake. Counterfeit Apple iPhone USB chargers have caused one death, fires, injuries and equipment damage.
The Counterfeit Report, a consumer advocate and watchdog, sent formal infringement notices, authorized by the trademark holders, to Amazon for 32,626 infringing items offered on Amazon in just the past year. The Counterfeit Report also conducted dozens of name-brand test purchases from Amazon Fulfillment and Amazon Marketplace sellers, but never received an authentic item.
“In Amazon's quest to be the low-cost provider of everything on the planet, the website has morphed into the world's largest flea market — a chaotic, somewhat lawless, bazaar with unlimited inventory” says a recent CNBC Report.
Web platforms that facilitate criminal activity and benefit from the proceeds of dishonest actions which impact jobs, consumer safety and public trust create a public perception of deception and impunity. However, reputation damage is only a small part of the problem: counterfeits costs U.S. manufacturers over $250 billion, and U.S. workers over 750,000 jobs, and this family their home.