|Mon Feb 17 2014 22:28:32|
What You Don't Know about Hazmat Could Cost You
By: Ina Steiner
Many people would feel it necessary to don full body suits and respirators before being in the same room as hazardous materials, but they might be surprised to learn that Amazon.com considers many common household items to be in the same class as dangerous chemicals or gasses. The USPS and shipping carriers also have restrictions on what can be shipped by air thanks to hazmat regulations - including certain curling irons, of all things.
Many sellers have learned the hard way that even products that seem harmless, like plug-in air fresheners, can be banned by Amazon's FBA fulfillment service - discussion boards are full of such stories. But some believe Amazon do a better job of handling the issue. An EcommerceBytes reader sent a letter they received warning them of a product (a battery) Amazon deemed hazardous. The letter stated in part:
"Amazon will move the inventory found to be Hazmat to a Hazmat area in accordance with local and federal regulations. Amazon will then hire an outside 3rd party company to come into our warehouse to process the destruction of hazmat inventory per local and federal guidelines. You will be charged disposal fees in accordance with the FBA Service Terms.
"I cannot authorize any credit, reimbursement or concession related to the disposal of any hazmat items that are found to be stored within our fulfillment network."
The seller wrote, "Amazon should stop you from even allowing it to be sent in by prompts." In a followup letter from Amazon, the company explained, "It's extremely important that you understand that the Seller Central system is not designed to recognize Hazmat until items have been manually reviewed by our Product Compliance department."
And it warned that it was vitally important that sellers identify regulated hazardous products before shipping because there are "very significant fines associated with shipping hazmat undeclared (often a $60,000 minimum fine)."
And that's a good point that all sellers should understand. As the USPS explains:
"Many common household and consumer products cannot be mailed through the US Postal Service. These materials may not be dangerous on your shelf at home, but they may become a hazard when shaken or when exposed to temperature or pressure changes. Additional rules and restrictions apply for items being mailed internationally."
Some examples of items that may be mailable but have specific restrictions include Aerosols, Lithium Batteries, Nail Polish, Perfumes containing alcohol and Certain Glues.
This discussion thread started in December demonstrates the frustration sellers experience when shipments are held up over hazmat concerns. It seems hazardous materials is one of those issues that's not going to go away, whether you sell through Amazon FBA or elsewhere.