The Hidden Safety Risks of Your Amazon Order | WSJ

The Hidden Safety Risks of Your Amazon Order | WSJ

(curious music) – First off, Magformers are fun. It’s magnetic construction. I’m the CEO fro Magformers. We’re a toy company. On December 27th, we
had a lot of work to do in closing out our year. A lot of happiness early in the morning. Some of our toys received awards and excitement of seeing
2018 come to an end. It was mid-morning when all of a sudden we had two of our employees race from different
directions in the office. They both were bringing
the same communication, and that is that a child
had swallowed Magformers. – Jennifer White thought
this small piece of plastic was a unique Christmas gift. Instead, the magnets inside of it left hols throughout her son’s stomach. – They were doing what magnets do, and try to get to each other
through his intestines, and it created holes in the lining. – [Narrator] The toy
that caused the injury was purchased on Amazon. The Wall Street Journal
set out to investigate how many unsafe products like this are on Amazon’s massive Marketplace. The toy gifted to the White family wasn’t actually Magformers; rather, it was one of the
many similar-looking products for sale on Amazon by a third party. – 300,000 social media hits later, the father of the child
identified the product, called IMDEN. It was taken off Amazon’s site. It should’ve been. Unsafe. (curious music) – [Narrator] When Amazon CEO
Jeff Bezos started the company, he decided to sell books
for a simple reason. There are a lot of books. – Books were great, because books are incredibly unusual in one respect, and that is that there are
more items in the book category than there are items in
any other category by far. – [Narrator] As Amazon has grown, Bezos and other top Amazon
executives have emphasized selection as a key aspect of
Amazon’s business philosophy. – If you can focus obsessively enough on customer experience: selection. We keep pursuing that notion
of Earth’s biggest selection. It’s selection. The three big ideas are low prices, fast delivery, and vast selection. – [Narrator] Search
“magnetic toy” on Amazon and you’re presented with
an avalanche of choices: colors, shapes, number of pieces, price. In 2001, Jeff Bezos came up with his theory of the virtuous cycle. According to Amazon executives, Bezos originally sketched it on a napkin, and it has since become an
important part of Amazon’s story. – So our virtuous cycle starts with a terrific customer experience. – [Narrator] It uses the
concept of a flywheel, a heavy wheel that’s
hard to turn initially but generates its own momentum and becomes self-reinforcing
once it gets going. In Amazon’s case it goes like this: greater selection and lower prices lead to greater customer satisfaction, which leads to more site visits, which makes it more attractive
for third-party sellers, which increases selection
and simultaneously leads to lower overhead for
Amazon, which lowers prices, and round and round it goes. This theory was one of the
reasons why Amazon built its Marketplace, which
has grown to include millions of third-party sellers. In the view of its
executives, more sellers means more selection driving
their virtuous cycle. – They bring selection that is really hard for us to get ourselves, and that adds to the customer experience. – What’s probably the most
surprising to most consumers is the fact that most
products sold on Amazon are not sold by Amazon itself. What best describes Amazon
is it’s a company of systems. Most of the large businesses we build not only have flywheels,
but they also have systems, which means they can be scaled, usually without any limit. – [Narrator] An Amazon spokeswoman
said the company’s goals of unbeatable price,
selection, and convenience don’t come at the expense
of customer safety. Since Jeff Bezos made his napkin drawing, third-party sales have
grown from 6% of sales on Amazon to nearly 60%. And as this Marketplace
has exploded in size, so too has the need to balance
selection and product safety. The Wall Street Journal conducted
a search of Amazon’s site for items declared unsafe
by government agencies or that are deceptively labeled, products that big-box
retailers won’t sell. The journal’s investigation
found about 4,100 such products for sale on Amazon, and an
additional 6,700 balloons that lacked federally-mandated
warning labels. 83% of the listings
were updates or removed after the journal sent Amazon
the products it identified. The Food and Drug Administration warns this sort of sleeping mat
can suffocate infants. Amazon bans them from their Marketplace, but the journal found 80
for sale on the site anyway. Amazon removed all of the
infant sleep positioners the journal identified. – The challenge for Amazon is that what built the Amazon Marketplace, it being so open and so
welcoming to new sellers, it has also meant that, today, Amazon is really having a hard time enforcing many of its own rules, because it just physically cannot allocate enough human power to
police many of these rules. – [Narrator] Within two
weeks of Amazon’s removing or altering problematic listings, 130 items with the same
policy violations reappeared, some sold by the same vendors. An Amazon spokeswoman said
it removed these items and refined its tools for catching them. She added that the company’s tools prevent most non-compliant listings from ever appearing on the site. And when sellers manage
to evade its systems, Amazon acts quickly to remove items and penalize the offending seller. Additionally, she said the company provides resources to
sellers about proper labeling and other compliance obligations. (intriguing music) – The Marketplace was very clearly set up to be an independent entity where people could use the
technology that Amazon had built but not necessarily be part of Amazon. My name is Rachel Johnson Grier, and I’ve been working in
this consultant business that I started four years ago. We help sellers on Amazon Marketplace. I worked at Amazon for about eight years, and my first role in
compliance was handling all of recalls and product
safety for North America. I got very familiar with how
Amazon enforced on sellers, how they communicated with sellers. We can say that we’re
not going to interfere in the Marketplace, but as
soon as customers are upset or someone could get hurt,
now we have a problem. – [Narrator] In 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, issued recalls for many drop-side cribs as
the news media and public grew increasingly concerned
about their safety. – [Reporter] The largest
baby crib recall in history involves more than two
million drop-side cribs. – The CPSC was trying to
redesign their crib regulations, and all cribs had to
meet the new regulation, I believe it was by June 2011. Working with recalls,
normally what we would do is we would remove everything from Amazon. I was like, “Then let’s
remove all the cribs, “and then anything that comes back “is guaranteed to be compliant.” I was told that they didn’t
want to take things down, because it would limit selection. That’s what they’re incentivized to do: more selection, more sales. As a compliance person,
you’re incentivized to either meet the law
or protect customers, and those two did not go together. At the time, I was about
six months pregnant, and what I argued to
them was that no mother, no mother ever wants selection that’s going to hurt her child, ever. And I lost the argument. And that has … That has been painful ever since. – [Narrator] An Amazon
spokeswoman said the company executes recalls as soon
as it is aware of them, and requires sellers to
meet any new requirements the CPSC introduces. (intriguing string music) What does it take to ensure
a safe children’s product? The Wall Street Journal
ordered a selection of children’s toys that
are popular on Amazon and sent them to a
federally-certified lab for testing. They were subjected to drop tests, torque tests, chemical tests, and more. Of the 10 toys the journal
sent for testing, four failed. One of those was this xylophone from the AILUKI toddler
musical instruments set, which was found to contain four times the federal limit of lead for children. The company disputed the
results and sent a test report from a different laboratory
showing a passing result. The journal spoke to safety
and compliance experts who said this discrepancy should trigger a halt to sales and more testing. And Amazon removed these
items from their marketplace. Government officials are
also turning their attentions to the dangers posed by some
products sold on Amazon. – So we’re here to announce
today that Amazon will commit to legally-binding,
nationwide corporate reforms after my office found dozens
of children’s school supplies and jewelry sold on its Marketplace had illegal levels of toxic metals. We just had some suspicions
that there were products out there for sale that
had not adequately tested and were not compliant with the law and not safe for children. We tested about a hundred Amazon products. More than half had illegal
amounts of lead and cadmium. That’s not a great track
record to start with. Kids with their toys, with
their school supplies, if they’re anything like my
kids when they were young, they’re chewing on those things,
they’re sleeping with them, they are in close proximity,
often for many hours a day. Across the country, consumers made more than 15,000 purchases
of these products. So it led to a settlement. Amazon in this case has to see the state, make consumers hold for what they pay for, and most importantly change
the corporate practices and detail what that looks like. – [Narrator] An Amazon
spokeswoman said the company welcomes ongoing collaboration
with the Attorney General to promote customer safety. – The only real way to know, as Amazon, that the products that are
being sold on the website are compliant is to pull it
from the fulfillment center, send it to a lab themselves,
and get it tested. Because otherwise, paperwork is paperwork. You could just make up whatever you want. – [Narrator] Not only are
there a lot of unsafe products on Amazon; many of them
sold by third parties imitate safe, popular items. – Amazon Marketplace means
anyone can sell anything, which also means, if you’re a bad actor trying to sell an unsafe
product, a counterfeit product, a wrongly-named product … you can. – [Narrator] A lot of the work rooting out bad sellers on Amazon’s Marketplace is done not by Amazon
but by other sellers. – Our binder against counterfeit has been going on since 2012. I mean, how many times
have some of these changed from one name to another on Amazon? – Oh, they tend to change very quickly, or they’re sold under various names. – [Chris Tidwell] Which one is ours? – These two are ours. These two are counterfeit. There’s almost no real
distinction between the packaging. So when mom and dad get it home, they won’t know that something’s amiss. And that’s our biggest concern. We are showing you how … easy it is to break one of the knockoffs. (snapping) And these magnets are not
something you want laying around your house if you
have small children or pets. – [Narrator] An Amazon
spokeswoman said the company investigates claims and takes
action against bad actors. She said Amazon also gives sellers tools to remove unsafe selection
and counterfeit items. She added that, in the case
of IMDEN magnetic toy blocks, Amazon removed the item as soon as it became aware of the safety incident. The manufacturer of IMDEN
magnetic building blocks declined to comment. Amazon has gotten so big
and does so many things that many ask, what is Amazon? Bezos himself has been
asked this question. – What is Amazon? I would say really it’s a
collection of principles, and it’s an approach that we deploy. – [Narrator] But if these
principles conflict with safety, will they have to change? – The things that they
claim to be possible are just ultimately unprofitable. You could argue that many of these issues can and will be solved by Amazon, but they will probably
require fundamentally changing the building blocks. – I believe Amazon has the
ability to do anything they want. They’re the strongest and
most powerful retailer at this point in the world. – I in fact don’t buy from
third-party sellers for my son, because I know that there’s a risk there. I typically will buy
from well-known brands, and I will bay the extra, because I know what I’m paying for. A lot of consumers don’t, or they don’t have the
resources to make that choice. – I’m under no illusion that somehow our agreement with Amazon
is solving the problem by any stretch of the imagination. But do want to communicate to
Amazon, “Hey, we’re watching”? Yes. You don’t get a pass
because you’re really big and it’s really complicated. (soft electronic music)

100 thoughts on “The Hidden Safety Risks of Your Amazon Order | WSJ

  1. I ordered from Amazon for the first time a couple weeks ago and my cell phone got blowed up with messages for surveys for days

  2. Sorry you could say amazon ships their boxes 📦 filled with plutonium and we would still shop at Amazon. You’re propaganda garbage isn’t going to short this stock. Go pound sand WSJ

  3. In today's World, Amazon must spend more on compliance and safety of their Customers. They have an unlimited offer in the marketplace, the good, the bad and the deadly, and like any other shop owner they must take responsibility and be held liable for what they sell. It might be about time to reverse the flywheel momentum.

  4. Amazon sent me a used razor and a waterpick with no factory sealed components even though I bought the items “new”. I took the razor out of the box and cut it on- blonde and black hairs came out of it. I haven’t bought any personal items from Amazon since then and I wonder about the personal items I bought prior. Gross!!!

  5. Amazon sent me a used razor and a waterpick with no factory sealed components even though I bought the items “new”. I took the razor out of the box and cut it on- blonde and black hairs came out of it. I haven’t bought any personal items from Amazon since then and I wonder about the personal items I bought prior. Gross!!!

  6. "I wanted to remove every crib we sold until they all passed the new compliance rules." Yeah, good luck with that one.

    The CPSA mandates that manufacturers and importers of products must get them tested, which is the responsibility of the third-party sellers. Amazon only does retail, shipping and recalls for such products. Buyers should be aware that products from Chinese sellers are unlikely to pass US consumer guidelines.

    It's not a very good case. It's like blaming Google or YouTube for copyright infringement. They have to take it down, but it's not their responsibility.

  7. Don’t you love American propaganda. Trying to kill the competition through regulations. This is original lol NOT.

  8. What a joke of a video…this is not information. We are pretending that all this story is an Amazon problem and not a parenting one?

  9. It’s so unethical that there’s no announcement about bias or conflicts of interest. Amazon and WSJ are sister companies

  10. I have been buying almost everything from Amazon for my child – from formula to toy. I tried to buy the most expensive ones – from seller = brand name. Now, I have no comfort at all if the toys that brought are even genuinely actual manufacturers… not counterfeit… how would I know? How can I tell? Where is Amazon’s corporate social responsibility to keep our children safe????


  12. How big are the magnets in the real product? I would like to see how hard it is to break the real product or if the magnetic is inside the entire product and made of a tougher plastic.

  13. Fortunately in Europe we test products before they can sell them , as an American I think that is a shame for a developed country like USA 🇺🇸 to don't have a prevention program like in EU 🇪🇺

  14. Seriously, this ceo chris tidwell just delivered the best response i have ever seen to an outbreak about malfunktioning toy and his emphasis on testing and resulting trust i have seen about anything ever. This is the kind of response every outlet should deliver if confronted with a problem! Thats why companies who refuse reporters inquiries have already failed in my opinion!
    Verry adequat and professional aproach! Good guy!

  15. This really scares me because even though I do my research, but my husband uses price as his sole determinate when buying anything so I can see him buying these knockoffs that are dangerous for our children.

  16. "Unsafe" lol. How bout you guys worry about all the toxic toys coming from China with lead in the paint and other toxins affecting many more kids than 1 3 or 4 year old who doesn't know not to swallow his toys. Dont blame the business in this one when your 3 year old does what a 1 year old still does.

  17. Fallen Angels run Amazon and they are not about safety of toy's for children.🙁😞😢😭💔

    These are the facts and the Truth.

  18. LOL, the WSJ is the last hope for neurotic losers that are still trying to push the US as being #1. The harder you try, the more you prove otherwise, but you're not exactly known for your intelligence are you?

    No wonder why you tried to reinvent yourselves in two years. You wacky little weirdos. LOL.

  19. This is an utter hitpiece. Sounds like in every instance an issue was brought to Amazon's attention – they removed the bad items and better amended corporate policy.

    How much responsibility do you put on the consumer? I didnt hear anything in this video. Amazon has a fantastic review system. I don't buy anything under 4 stars or without 100 reviews. A three star product with two reviews is suspicious.

  20. Look, you can walk into a 99cent store, dollar general, or other similar discount stores and find unsafe products for sale. Why aren't those stores being scrutinized? This is BS. Consumers are supposed to educate themselves prior to making a purchase, it is not the responsibility of the store. If you have a food allergy does the grocery store get blamed for your lack of competence if you failed to read the ingredients on the side of the box and eat said food that your allergic to? NO!

  21. Liberals and conservatives are getting fed up with this company and it's about time. Both sides have a common enemy and hopefully will take action.

  22. Lol, the video starts off with a knock off brand dragging the “responsible” brand through the dirt, then the “responsible” brand’s CEO knocks the off brand. Yet somehow the blame is being shifted to Amazon, so now Amazon is the culprit out of all of this. I will never use Amazon unless I have to, but the moral of the story should be this—consumer awareness. People buy what they wanna buy, and it’s their responsibility to research/ensure that they are responsible with the product.

  23. People choose the cheaper product over a well known brand. People need to learn that they compromise on the reliability, safety, and quality they get when choosing. Amazon gives the selection and it's up to consumers to choose.

  24. They are misusing the word 'vitreous', virtue is about balance of good and evil, not racing to extremes like amazon's "virtuous cycle" aims to… smh

  25. I think that if you are selling one of those products you should be fined and that money can be use to find other offenders.

  26. I know this video is about copycats selling cheap knock off products on amazon often unsafe versions (which isn’t okay) but I really hate when they try and use examples like the kids swallowing the magnets. That’s not the companies fault that’s because of stupid negligent parenting. Things like that are why toys I played with as a kid like the original Polly Pocket or Littlest Pet Shop were totally changed because some lazy parents couldn’t watch their kids and blamed the company. I never would have swallowed the small toys or been given them if I was still young enough that I didn’t know better. Parents are just not expected to have any common sense any more. If you can’t watch your kids or know when they’re old enough to have certain toys you don’t belong having them.

  27. Unsafe products are taken down off the store shelves at your local market and big retail and pet food stores all the time. You just don't hear about it in the news. goto the government site that list the recent recalls you will see just how many products there are that you didn't even know had been recalled.

  28. Also, how may of us own a car that has been recalled for a known issue that has lead to a death. How about whirlpools recall of stoves turning on by itself which can and has created fires. Didn't hear that in the news. People want to blame Amazon for it all but it's "buyer beware" Not the other way around. Take some responsibility before you buy something inead of acting like a bunch of children who " just want and need it now" acting incompetent is no excuse

  29. Eating the magnets is not the intended purpose of the toy. If the child was injured while playing with the toy as intended.. I would sympathize..

  30. While I realize everyone is saying it’s not the parents fault, as the parent of 5 children myself, children are individual, and you absolutely know if your child is the type of kid to put things in their mouth all the time, and not buying small toys that fit in their mouth, toys with parts that can easily break off, toys with magnets or watch batteries, is honestly a no brainer. Don’t buy any of these toys for your child if they put things in their mouth. Of course toy makers should be responsible enough to put on the box that it has small pieces, or magnets, but with that one…I feel like it’s kind of obvious…

  31. Fight the system that allows dangerous products to be created. Capitalism. Not Amazon per se.

    Not to mention that we must not just focus on abolishing creation of dangerous products, but unsustainable ones especially (a much faster category than dangerous ones).

  32. So this is China’s sun tzu way in bringing down U.S., selling counterfeit products, poison our kids of the next generation, stealing our intellectual proprietary property, shipping toxic drugs, hacking our financial system, and using bullying influence against the world. So yeah ** China! Aside from that, I hear it’s lovely country to visit! 😂

  33. They keep saying “Amazon’s products”. Unless it has Amazon name on it, these are somebody else’s products. Such sloppy reporting.

  34. i bet 80% of the unsafe product are created, and sold by a chinese bad actor,
    here we go guys, chinese again
    remove the chinese, and you remove 90% of the problem

  35. Too bad the largest selection category went over to Ali Express right now. And my biggest disappointment with Amazon? Counterfeit products. I ordered Nike shoes, which turned out a fake one. I ordered canvas material high quality grill cover, I received 2 dollar lousy, and plastic grill cover which didn't look like at all on the product information page, I ordered Chanel perfume, I received Chennel, a counterfeit. I also ordered one time, several CDs which they didn't say they were coming from overseas by SHIP. So, I ended up waiting for 3 months. Just out of spite, I kept ordering the same CD from different seller, two of them didn't show up, and finally one showed up, but damaged. I gave up returning.

    So, if you are shopping at Amazon, BE VERY CAREFUL. That place now is inundated with counterfeit products, and you don't even know if Amazon is selling the real stuffs. So, after 15 years of shopping online, I gave up. For expensive items, I usually go to department store now. For books and CDS, I now order online from that particular country where they sell the real stuff and real fast.

    Sayonara Amazon~


  37. Amazon India is very bad also. I've bought several products turned out to be fake, I told them but they took no action.

  38. We have a Congress lying to us day in and day out! We have a cabal spending millions upon millions investigating a presidential phone call! We have a MSM owned by six companies! We are lied to left and right, up and down. Who is sure of anything anymore?

  39. They aren't made to eat….if you give it to a child known to eat random items…it's your fault not the toy companies

  40. I left Linux Ubuntu when i noticed Amazon hijacked it. What did Jeff Bezos say in this video? "SELECTION". I couldn't uninstall the Amazon Software. Bezos is a Hypocrite and a Liar!

  41. We all grew up with these products…..are today's parents that stupid or incompetent……

    I don't need the Gov telling me what to buy or not….

  42. The problem here is that people take for granted the trustworthiness of vendors and the effectiveness of regulations… even with regulations, it is up to the consumers to scrutinize the things they consume especially when it's a non original product. The parents made the judgement that it was safe. The parents should never have relied on some arbitrary trust in the system without doing any of their own due diligence.

    There are plenty of greedy people on the world trying to make a quick buck at your expense, there is no way that regulations will reach all of them. It's foolish to think that someone out there has your back, if you don't protect yourself

  43. Why doesn't Amazon have a department that focuses on safety tests to bring more credibility to items listed on their platform? Even with a huge backlog, it'd make me feel better if products had a badge verifying they pass safety tests. Especially in a category so vulnerable as children's products. It's never good press that children are being harmed by products.

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