Australian retailers are held to some of the highest standards  of product safety, and they invest substantial resources in making sure their products are safe.

However Australian consumers can unknowingly buy unsafe products from global online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.

The National Retail Association Technical Standards Committee has found numerous examples of products listed by third-party sellers on online marketplaces that do not meet Australian mandatory product safety standards.

The NRA believes more needs to be done to protect customer safety by ensuring all products sold on online marketplaces to Australian customers comply with Australian safety standards.

In a landmark ruling in the US, the risks could now be bourne by the online marketplaces, as seen in a recent legal case where a judge has deemed that Amazon may be held liable for an unsafe product.

As reported by Internet Retailing, a customer has claimed that she was blinded in one eye when a retractable dog leash she bought on Amazon broke and hit her in the face. The leash was purchased from a third-party seller, The Furry Gang. With neither the claimant nor Amazon being able to locate any representative from The Furry Gang, the claimant appealed the case on the grounds of company negligence.

In response, the Judge has deemed that Amazon may be held liable in part because its business model “enables third-party vendors to conceal themselves from the customer, leaving customers injured by defective products with no direct recourse to the third-party vendor.” The case has been sent back to the lower court to decide whether the leash was actually defective.

If the ruling stands, this could set a precedent for additional cases against Amazon and other online marketplaces around the world.

 


 

The National Retail Association Technical Standards Committee brings together product quality and compliance specialists from key retailers to proactively engage on issues of product safety and technical standards in an ever-changing regulatory environment. Members who are interested in being involved, please contact David Stout at policy@nra.net.au.