That anonymity, though, provides cover for fraudsters. It’s not uncommon to find counterfeit and potentially harmful items on marketplace sites. In 2018, the Government Accountability Office ordered 47 items, including shoes, travel mugs, cosmetics, and phone chargers, from third-party sellers on “popular consumer websites” and determined that 20 of them were counterfeit. Even non-counterfeit items bought from third-party sellers have been implicated in consumer harm. In April 2018, a 19-month-old in Texas was injured after ingesting a battery that fell out of a loose battery compartment in a third-party Apple TV remote. The parents asked Amazon to stop selling the defective product and requested contact information for Hu Xi Jie, who ran the Amazon store “USA Shopping 7693” that sold the remote. Hu Xi Jie never responded, and Amazon was not able to locate the individual. The parents sued Amazon in Texas state court, arguing that the retailer is liable for the defective product. Amazon, on the other hand, says it serves as a middleman and bears no liability. It’s that argument, among others, that has brick-and-mortar retailers pushing for changes. Consumer product laws hold businesses like Target and Home Depot liable for injuries if the stores do not take sufficient measures to keep defective products from reaching consumers. Online marketplaces haven’t been subject to those rules since they don’t control third-party sellers.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.