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Senators request more information on Amazon’s safety efforts

A group of senators are calling on Jeff Bezos to launch a ‘sweeping internal investigation’ into the issue of unsafe listings

Photo (c) Andrei Stanescu - Getty Images
On the heels of a recent Wall Street Journal investigation which found that Amazon had more than 4,000 listings for items that had been declared unsafe by federal regulators, three U.S. senators are calling on Jeff Bezos to launch an internal investigation into the issue. 

“Unquestionably, Amazon is falling short of its commitment to keeping safe those consumers who use its massive platform,” wrote Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sen. Bob Menendez, (D-N.J.), and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass) in a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo.

“We call on you to immediately remove from the platform all the problematic products examined in the recent WSJ report; explain how you are going about this process; conduct a sweeping internal investigation of your enforcement and consumer safety policies; and institute changes that will continue to keep unsafe products off your platform.”

Senators want answers from Amazon

Last week, the Journal found that thousands of items listed on Amazon’s marketplace had either been “declared unsafe” or outright banned by federal agencies. About half of these items were toys or medications without proper risk warnings; at least 157 items were items Amazon had said it banned; and some items were even labeled as “Amazon’s choice.” 

Earlier this month, Menendez and Blumenthal sent a separate letter to Bezos asking for more information about the “Amazon’s Choice” program. Specifically, the senators wanted to find out if consumers are being duped into buying “products of inferior quality.” 

“We are concerned the badge is assigned in an arbitrary manner, or worse, based on fraudulent product reviews,” Menendez and Blumenthal said in the letter.

In their most recent letter, the two senators -- joined by Ed Markey -- asked Amazon to shed light on why its current safety protocols allowed numerous unsafe products to slip through the cracks and end up for sale on the site. Additionally, the senators want to know what Amazon plans to do to keep problematic listings from infiltrating the marketplace in the future.

Amazon says ‘safety is a top priority’

Following the WSJ report, Amazon quickly removed or changed the wording of more than half of the listings in question. 

“Safety is a top priority at Amazon,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “When a concern arises, we move quickly to protect customers and work directly with sellers, brands and government agencies.”

"Amazon offers customers hundreds of millions of items, and we have developed, and continuously refine and improve our tools that prevent suspicious, unsafe, or noncompliant products from being listed in our store," the company said in a blog post

In the post, the e-commerce giant didn’t mention anything about changing its existing safety policies to address the problem. The senators have given Bezos a deadline of September 29 to respond to their inquiries. 

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