Unsafe products easy to sell through online retailers

Unsafe products easy to sell through online retailers

It is very easy for external sellers to sell unsafe and defective products via the Bol.com and Amazon sales platforms. With a few simple tricks, it is possible to bypass the checks of the retailers—high time to take action. That is what the Consumers’ Association says, which registered as a drop shipper with the online sales platforms.

In this way, employees circumvented the retailers’ control.

The consumer interest organization was looking for an answer to the question of how easy it is to offer unsafe products for sale on Bol.com and Amazon. To this end, employees offered nine articles that were listed on the Safety Gate, a European alarm system where member states exchange information about dangerous products. Seven of the nine products the Consumers’ Association offered passed Bol.com’s inspection, including a flammable mobile air conditioner, a voltage meter that gives off shocks and a dangerous children’s swing. At Amazon, eight of the nine products managed to pass the check, including a dangerous construction lamp and unsafe children’s toys. The researchers used simple tricks to circumvent the control of the sales platforms. They replaced the EAN product codes with self-purchased codes that had nothing to do with the product. Another way to escape the inspection of Bol.com and Amazon was to use a photo of a CE marking of another product.

Consumers’ association calls for stricter control

Sandra Molenaar, director of the Consumer Association, is not pleased with this and wants the sales platforms to take measures. “It is appalling that it is so easy to fool the control systems of these major sales platforms. If they had looked closely at our webshop, they would have seen that it was dropshipping and that we did not meet Amazon’s requirements. That check is, therefore, a waste of money.”Molenaar says he was particularly shocked that the products they offered for sale were listed on a European list of dangerous products and were still accepted on the sales platforms. “That calls for action. Control needs to be greatly improved,” said the director.

‘EU must sharpen Cyber ​​Resilience Act considerably’

In 2024, the Cyber ​​Resilience Act will come into effect, and European legislation to ban unsafe devices in the EU. The main starting point is that manufacturers become responsible for the safety of the products they place on the market. The bill states, among other things, that manufacturers must provide support for at least five years, for example, by releasing software and security updates. In addition, consumers have the right to information about the security of devices. In the worst case, the European Commission may decide that a product may not be sold in the EU. Fines can amount to 15 million euros, or 2.5 per cent of global turnover, whichever is higher.”That’s a good start. But we think that sales platforms should check what they offer through their site much more strictly in advance. As far as we are concerned, the European rules on this point are being tightened up considerably”, says Molenaar.

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