An appeal court in California ruled that Amazon is liable for bad products on its platform. Whether these products are from third-party sellers or directly from the company, the e-commerce giant is responsible. This is the second major ruling from a Californian regarding Amazon’s involvement with bad products from third-party sellers. The court of appeal rejected Amazon’s long-standing claim that Amazon is only an intermediate service platform between buyers and third-party sellers. Amazon has always insisted that it only provides a bazaar. The third-party sellers on this bazaar platform are independent and they are not a part of Amazon itself.
In 2015, a woman bought a hoverboard sold by a third-party seller on the e-commerce platform. Later, the hoverboard caught fire and she was burned. In response to this incident, the company believes that it is only a connection platform between consumers and sellers. However, the Court of Appeal held that “according to California’s strict liability principle, in such a vertical distribution chain, there is a direct connection between (Amazon and the product in question)”.
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The plaintiff of the hoverboard case, Christopher Dolan said in a statement that the ruling is a major victory for consumers. Dolan said, “Amazon’s argument that it is not involved in the marketing, sales, and distribution of products but is only an advertiser is evading its responsibility to consumers due to defective products.”
Amazon has had multiple issues with bad products from third-party sellers
In August last year, California’s Fourth District Court of Appeals overturned a ruling made by a court of first instance in 2019 in support of a woman’s allegations. The woman’s allegation stated that she purchased a laptop from a third-party seller on Amazon. Then the laptop battery caught fire, and the fire caused her third-degree burns.
Regarding this report, there is no official statement from the e-commerce giant. However, its spokesperson claims that “For the safety and authenticity of all products sold on its platform, it has invested a lot of money and work. This includes auditing third-party sellers and selling products to sellers. The company carries out serious reviews before listing. At the same time, it also continuously monitor key sellers on the platform”.
Amazon does a lot to keep its third-party sellers in check. However, the court believes that it should be culpable for any mishap(s) on its platform. Many people buy from these third-party sellers because they “trust” Amazon. Thus, Amazon should be responsible.