Dangerous Fake Products For Kids Are Showing Up On Amazon

December 20, 2019

Counterfeit kids products are being listed on Amazon by third-party sellers, CNN reports. Although fake products are a common problem for many ecommerce platforms, a greater number have been popping up on Amazon because the tech giant makes up 37.7% of the nation’s ecommerce sales.

Just a few of the identified counterfeit kids products include baby strollers and car seats from the popular brand Doona, baby swaddles from Love to Dream, and Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty.

The dangers of counterfeit kids products

One counterfeit baby car seat and stroller listing on Amazon featured stolen images of the brand Doona. The counterfeit Doona car seat was tested at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in a months-long investigation into counterfeit children’s products.

In a 30 mph crash test, the car seat failed to meet the basic standards set by U.S. regulators. This is a major problem for car safety because of the high number of accidents on U.S. roads. Compared to the 1 million Americans injured on stairs every year, 6 million car accidents occur on U.S. roads annually with July 4 being the worst day of the year for crashes.

What’s more the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 10 million crashes go unreported every year, and vehicular manslaughter and other types of homicide are considered one of the leading causes of death among women and infants.

A video of the counterfeit car seat crash test shows the toddler dummy twisting and the car seat fracturing while sliding forward on the seat. An authentic Doona car seat in an identical crash test scenario met federal requirements; the car seat remained in place and in one piece around the toddler dummy.

Dr. Alisa Baer, a nationally certified child passenger safety instructor and pediatrician, reviewed the test results of the counterfeit Doona crash. In a real crash, she said, the child would have been in grave danger with injuries to the chest, neck, head, and brain.

Third-party sellers struggle to remove counterfeit listings

Approximately 91% of today’s consumers don’t remember the last time they made a purchase without reading online reviews first. But online reviews might not be enough to keep counterfeit products off Amazon.

It can be incredibly difficult for sellers to locate and remove counterfeit postings of their products. Some businesses have compared the removal of counterfeit postings to a game of “whack-a-mole.” New listings appear almost as soon as flagged listings are taken down.

Aaron Muderick, founder of Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, says his receptionist spends 15 to 20 hours a week submitting forms asking ecommerce sites like Amazon to remove product listings that are falsely using the company’s trademarks.

Amazon isn’t liable like other retailers

Under current U.S. case law, Amazon isn’t liable when third-party products sold on their website have safety defects or infringe on intellectual property. The third-party seller is liable for counterfeit or defective products.

This isn’t the same for physical retailers like Walmart and Target. Physical retailers are considered liable for defective and counterfeit products even if the retailer didn’t make the product.

Many courts have upheld that liability doesn’t apply to ecommerce sites the way it does with a physical store. Amazon has argued that they’re protected against liability by section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and say they’re just a platform providing a virtual meeting place for buyers and sellers to interact.

Courts are beginning to question Amazon’s liability

Some courts have begun to question Amazon’s liability for third-party sellers because of their extensive control over the ecommerce marketplace. Third-party companies selling illegal products through Amazon might not be able to be found once customers file personal injury claims, 96% of which are resolved through negotiation.

In one case involving a Philadelphia woman who was injured by a defective dog leash that snapped and injured her eye, the third-party seller of the leash couldn’t be found. The court ruled that Amazon was liable for the woman’s injuries because the ecommerce marketplace exerts substantial control over its vendors and was the only party available to the injured plaintiff for redress.

In just the first quarter of 2019, Amazon earned $11 billion in revenue from the services they provide for third-party sellers. Half of the items sold on Amazon are from third-party companies.

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