Starting September 1, Amazon will pay customers who suffer injury or damages caused by products sold by its third-party sellers. It will not admit liability and will limit claims to $1,000.
The policy is intended to head off lawsuits that consumers have filed over the years that seek to hold the multi-billion dollar company responsible for damages or injuries caused by small businesses that use its platform. Amazon’s position has been that the third-party seller is responsible, and the courts have generally agreed.
To a casual consumer, everything for sale on Amazon may look like it is an Amazon product, but the number of third-party sellers on the platform has been increasing over the years. By some estimates, more than 50% of products sold on the platform are now offered through third-party sellers.
Consumers have sometimes complained about the quality and safety of these products. Recently Tim, of Schenectady, N.Y., posted a ConsumerAffairs review about a fold-away football goal for his son that was purchased from a third-party Amazon seller.
“It came folded in a thin fabric bag, as we opened it snapped open, the plastic/composite bars that were folded in tension burst out, all them were snapped from the metal bars that held them together and so their spiked edges flew out almost catching me in the eye,” Tim wrote.
Going after counterfeiters
Amazon’s third-party marketplace has often been accused of being riddled with unsafe and counterfeit products. Along with the new policy on claims, Amazon said it is launching a crackdown on counterfeiters.
The company joined GoPro in a lawsuit against seven individuals and two entities on Tuesday, accusing them of counterfeiting GoPro’s popular camera accessories, including the floating hand grip, “The Handler,” and the “3-Way” grip, extension arm, and tripod mount.
The suit claims that the defendants attempted to offer the infringing products on Amazon’s platform, violating the company’s policies, infringing on GoPro’s trademarks, and breaking the law.
"When counterfeiters attempt to sell in our store, they not only violate the intellectual property rights of companies like GoPro, they also mislead consumers and harm Amazon's reputation as a place to buy authentic goods,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit.
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. It claims that nine defendants used GoPro’s registered trademarks without authorization “to deceive customers about the authenticity and origin of the products and create a false affiliation with GoPro.”
Amazon said it has closed the defendants’ selling accounts and has refunded affected customers.