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eBay Promotes Hoverboards as USPS Restricts Shipping

The Federal government is investigating the safety of hoverboards and the USPS is restricting how they can be shipped, but retailers continue to sell them. In fact, eBay continues to promote them prominently on its website. On the top of the main category page for Sporting Goods eBay advertises “Hoverboards for the Holidays with free shipping.”

The US government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a strongly worded statement on Wednesday stating it was urgently looking to determine why certain hoverboards have caught fire.

The CPSC is also concerned about the fall hazard the hoverboards may pose, saying it’s hearing from hospital Emergency Rooms about reports of serious injuries, warning consumers to “Always wear a proper helmet and padding while using this product.”

The US Postal Service is also concerned about hoverboards and on Wednesday, it issued a restriction on shipping them:

“Out of an abundance of caution and in line with major retailers and the airline industry, the Postal Service is limiting the domestic shipping of mailable motorized balance boards, or hover boards, that contain lithium batteries.

“Effective immediately and until further notice, USPS will ship hover boards using only Standard Post/Parcel Select. This product travels on ground transportation, due to the potential safety hazards of lithium batteries.

“Also effective immediately, mailable motorized balance boards, or hover boards, will not be sent in international mail shipments, and are also prohibited in shipments to or from APO, FPO, and DPO destinations.

“The Postal Service has long-time established rules and regulations regarding the mailing of lithium batteries both domestically and internationally.”

eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore told EcommerceBytes that consumer safety was important to eBay and said the company adheres to all safety requirements from regulators for products sold on its marketplace. “Regarding the sale of hoverboards, we have followed and will continue to abide by all actions taken by appropriate regulatory agencies as they relate to product safety issues, and will take appropriate action related to specific models as necessary. While we are closely monitoring this issue, we are not currently aware of any widespread reports from eBay customers about unsafe hoverboards.”

Beyond concerns of possible fire hazards, sellers should keep in mind liability issues. Chairman Elliot F. Kaye said in his advisory on Wednesday, “CPSC has received dozens of reports of injuries from hospital ERs that we have contracts with and they continue to feed us real-time data. Some of these injuries have been serious, including concussions, fractures, contusions/abrasions, and internal organ injuries. Always wear a proper helmet and padding while using this product.”

And as we noted in a previous report, a letter Amazon sent sellers raises the question of possible patent litigation in the future.

Online sellers should keep these advisories and risks in mind and should consider how they will ship any hoverboards they sell going forward.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.