Dozens of Amazon's private label products have racked up customer reports of exploding, melting, or catching fire since 2016 — but Amazon continues to sell many of them
- Customers have left hundreds of reviews on more than 70 AmazonBasics products detailing how the items caught fire, exploded, melted, or exhibited some other malfunction, CNN reported on Thursday.
- Many of the items, which include surge protectors, phone chargers, and microwaves, remain listed for sale on the marketplace.
- In a statement to Business Insider, Amazon said it takes a number of "proactive steps" to ensure that "safety is a top priority at Amazon."
Amazon customers have left hundreds of reviews on dozens of AmazonBasics products detailing how the items caught fire, exploded, melted, or exhibited some other malfunction, according to a new analysis conducted by CNN — and many of those products are still listed for sale.
CNN found more than 1,500 customer reviews for over 70 AmazonBasics products — not those listed by third-party sellers — that reported the items had exploded, melted, caught fire, began smoking, or exhibited some other electrical defect. The reviews dated back to 2016, and some were left as recently as this month. Microwaves, USB cords, phone chargers, paper shredders, and surge protectors are all items listed as exhibiting malfunctions.
About 30 products with three or more reviews that report fire hazards were still for sale at the time the report was published on Thursday. Some with such reviews had been delisted, and others were no longer for sale following CNN's report. At least four pages were completely removed by the site, per the outlet.
The reviews represent only a portion of AmazonBasics purchases, as CNN notes, and gadget-sparked fires are not uncommon, nor are they exclusive to Amazon products. But experts told CNN that reports of faulty electronics sold by Amazon still cause for concern.
The outlet published screenshots of the reviews, many of which include photos of the torched items. One review posted in June 2019 said that an AmazonBasics car charger caused "a mini explosion and sparks flew everywhere" when the customer plugged it into their car. Another wrote that an AmazonBasics microwave caught on fire when the customer's 8-year-old daughter heated up a dish of macaroni and cheese. And a 2016 review details how a power strip started a fire. The reviewer wrote: "Why are these still being sold after all the fire reviews?"
CNN obtained two of the burned AmazonBasics products — a USB cord and a microwave — and asked the University of Maryland's Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering to test them. The failure analysis lab researchers found the USB cord to be too damaged to study, but found the microwave to indeed pose safety risks since it "heated up to the extent a fire could occur," engineering professor Michael Pecht told CNN. "This is more than a reliability problem, this is a potential safety problem." Amazon told Business Insider that it is sure the microwave is safe to use.
A company spokesperson said in an email to Business Insider: "Safety is a top priority at Amazon and we know customers expect Amazon's products to be safe and high quality. We take a number of proactive steps to ensure this - for example, we work with third party labs to establish safety and compliance standards for our products; select experienced manufacturers that meet our quality, safety, and social responsibility bar; test products to ensure they pass safety and compliance standards; monitor customer feedback for any indicators of a safety or quality concern; and periodically test private brand products available in our store."
The company also said it would investigate any concern brought forth by a customer. The company shared a blog post in response to the CNN report detailing the steps it takes to ensure the safety of its products.
Some consumer reports of the company's products catching fire have been filed to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal agency that can conclude if a company needs to officially recall a certain product. Amazon has recalled two AmazonBasics items, in 2018 and 2019, after dozens of reports complained about power strips overheating and a space heater sparking, per CNN.
Amazon launched the Basics line in 2009, and its products are marketed as more budget-friendly alternatives to name brand items. These items are typically promoted within the marketplace, and often include an "Amazon's Choice" tag.