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State Investigation of Amazon to Expand to Other Retailers

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State Investigation of Amazon to Expand to Other Retailers

Now we know why Amazon notified sellers it would require safety documentation for all children’s school supplies by February 13, 2019 – it was due to pressure from its home state.

Washington State’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson said an investigation it began in 2017 found that “dozens of children’s school supplies sold on (Amazon’s) online marketplace had illegal levels of toxic metals lead and cadmium.”

In addition, the Washington AG’s office said it would continue its investigation and expand it to include other retailers.

The Attorney General’s press release issued on Thursday included the following information:

“Ferguson’s investigation revealed that individuals in Washington and across the country made at least 15,188 purchases of products with illegal levels of lead and cadmium from Amazon.com. When it learned of the results of the investigation, Amazon contacted the purchasers in early 2019 encouraging the disposal of the toxic items and provided more than $200,000 in refunds.

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“To resolve the investigation without a lawsuit, Amazon entered into a nationwide legally binding agreement to block the sale of children’s schools supplies and jewelry on Amazon.com without lab reports and other proof from the sellers that the products are not toxic.

“In addition, Amazon will pay the Attorney General’s Office $700,000, which will be used to fund future environmental protection efforts, including future investigations into toxic children’s products.”

In a press conference about the agreement it entered into with Amazon, the Attorney General said his office had investigated items specifically marketed to children, including pencil pouches, backpacks, lunchboxes, and book covers.

The AG’s office said that Amazon will require all current sellers of such products to provide certifications and lab testing from an accredited lab showing that their products are safe. Amazon “identified approximately 18,000 sellers on its marketplace that offer around 900,000 individual children’s school supplies and jewelry products,” according to the AG.

The reforms apply nationwide and impact products sourced from retail vendors (where Amazon is the seller of record) or sold by third-party marketplace sellers (where Amazon is not the seller of record). Any future sellers must provide this certification before listing their products for sale, it stated.

“Moreover, if the Attorney General or Washington Department of Ecology advise Amazon of any children’s school supplies or jewelry that exceed safe levels, Amazon must remove the product from its online marketplace within two business days,” the AG said.

During the press conference, Assistant Attorney General Kelly Wood said the office would continue its investigations – “this work is not done,” he said – including looking at other retailers, “because frankly, we think that this problem is replicated across the market.”

SOURCE: Washington State Attorney General Press Release

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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.

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