Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Dec 14 2015 00:39:46

Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

By: Ina Steiner

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Overstock.com has banned them, Amazon has restricted them, and eBay continues to promote them at least for now. We're talking about hoverboards, which are all over the news thanks to reports of them catching fire. Even airlines are banning them from planes over concerns about their safety.

Monday's Newsflash has details about how concerns over hoverboards are impacting marketplaces and online merchants. The article includes a copy of a letter EcommerceBytes obtained that Amazon sent to merchants on Friday warning them that Amazon approval was now required to sell hoverboards and battery powered, self-balancing scooters.

Just how bad can things get? A report from a Louisiana station said a hoverboard caught fire and burned down the owner's home in late November. It reported that the hoverboard had been purchased on Amazon.com from a company called "Fit Turbo." As of right now, there are three products sold by a company called Fiturbo on Amazon, none of which are hoverboards. However, cached pages show Fiturbo self balancing scooters had been for sale on Amazon this month.

The website Fiturbo.com links to an error page on Magento, but a cached version of the site from December 11,2015 shows it had listed products for sale including a "Fiturbo F1 Two Wheel Self Balancing Electric Scooter" for $399.99.

eBay continues to make hoverboards available for sale (the image shown above is a widget promoting the products to visitors), and a seller called Fiturbo has numerous hoverboards available. On its eBay page, it states, "Based in China, fiturbo has been an eBay member since Dec 11, 2012."

It's not clear if the Fiturbo accounts are related to each other or to the "Fit Turbo" hoverboard that allegedly caused a house to catch fire.

Interestingly, we found a review for a Fiturbo hoverboard on Amazon (again using cached pages) that was left on November 7, 2015, that said the item had started smoking while her son was riding it. "When I contacted the seller their response was to take it to a repair shop. I paid $300 for this item and used it for less than a week. Not only is the product defective but my son could have been seriously hurt, take it to repair shop?"

Today, an online merchant who said they were new to Amazon wondered why the marketplace had restricted their account on Friday and was holding their funds. They explained that they had used a scanner app that had allowed them to list a hoverboard with no restrictions and that the customer had already received the product, well before restrictions that Amazon put in place on December 11th.

The seller appeared to be unaware of such issues as product liability insurance. The issue of hoverboards is a reminder to sellers to be careful about items they for resale and from whom they purchase inventory.

Overstock.com banned hoverboards and is being proactive, reaching out to customers and allowing them to return hoverboards for a refund. It will be interesting to see if other marketplaces and retailers follow suit.




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 14 05:53:21 2015

Ebay doesn't care. Its the bottom line people. Only the bottom line.

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Dec 14 06:50:15 2015

You mean we haven't heard from Chinabay yet? Responsible, ethical Chinabay hasn't spoken?

Perhaps they'll be sued when one of those things injures someone.

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 14 08:53:53 2015

ebay will certainly FLIP to the '' We are Just a Venue'' side of their business model on this issue.

The hoverboard is just one small item of the many thousands of dangerous items ebay makes money on everyday, it's nothing in comparison.

 

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

This user has validated their user name. by: White Rabbit

Mon Dec 14 10:51:01 2015

of course you can buy a HANDMADE one on Etsy for $720 :-)

https://goo.gl/m1Oyp6

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This user has validated their user name. by: White Rabbit

Mon Dec 14 10:54:31 2015

a few more HANDMADE ones on Etsy :-)

https://www.etsy.com/search?q=hoverboard&order=price_desc

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 14 10:58:42 2015

eh ... seems like its not about "customer safety" but more like a threat from Razor.

For more information about Razor’s patent claim, please contact Razor’s counsel:

Mr. John Cochrane
Razor USA LLC
General Counsel, Razor USA LLC

While there may be real issues with product safety, it seems here its simply the bottom line for Amazon that counts.

Note the info thats being requested - one Razor has the certification numbers, they can subpoena the labs to find out whos making them.

I call BS on this whole thing - follow the money and the buzzards and you will know what the truth is.

As for eBay? they are innocent on this one (for once). WHile they are usually the guilty party - their hunger for money knows no bounds legal or not - THIS time - until the Fed Safety Commission or other government agency says something - they should keep on selling them - and why not?  

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Dec 14 10:59:01 2015

The nearest Westfield Mall has a kiosk selling hoverboards for $50 each. The seller is probably one of eBay's finest.

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Mon Dec 14 11:22:11 2015

Yea, buy one from ''Fiturbo'' in China, get it shipped for free (with shipping paid for by our government), and try and return it when it breaks or catches on fire.

Does eBay require their valued Chinese sellers to pay shipping both ways when a SNAD item is returned? And how about liability issues??

As maxmad stated, eBay will claim that they are ''only a venue'' when the lawsuits begin to roll in, and not take responsibility.

They sure aren't just a venue when our businesses are micromanaged with many silly rules and fees that make no sense, and some in fact are illegal!!

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Dec 14 13:35:39 2015

Pace says "they should keep on selling them - and why not?"

Cause the lithium batteries are catching fire?

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 14 15:54:51 2015

I don't think it's the hoverboard itself that's the culprit, but the fact that (one of) its biggest manufacturers seems to be producing bad ones. Prolly someone over in China successfully guessed that the hoverboards were the next Big Thing, and quickly knocked together a production line to make them as fast as possible, without regard to how safe their charger components were. If next year's Big Thing is rechargeable buggy whips, people will quickly begin complaining about Chinese buggy whips causing their horses to catch fire.

(Oh, and that lawsuit about the woman's kid who could have been ''seriously hurt'' because the hoverboard started smoking while he was on it? Yeah, right. Kid, if smoke starts coming out, just step off it, okay?)

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Mon Dec 14 19:11:16 2015


Brings new meaning to the term ''Hot item''

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 14 23:52:14 2015

Rex - how many caught on fire - and how many brands are there and what are the total # of pieces sold.

If you read Ina's article - most of the complaint (s) were about Razor IP issues, only one line was about consumer safety.

Are these UL listed? Who is importing what? What brand(s) are they listing under?

Lots of other items have similar issues - yet you never hear of them - why? Is it 'cause Razor or another large IP rights holder DIDNT send a threatening letter?

NO ONE wants people to get hurt on any item, but Amazon still (for example) sells knives, chain saws and many "good, safe" items that can cause injury - none are banned or blocked by Amazon.

Its easier to get approved for kitchen knives then it is to get approved for a Pioneer car stereo.

I see these hover boards all over the place and none have been on fire. Family members have them too and none of those caught fire.

That of course doesnt mean it doesnt happen, it doesnt mean it WONT happen ... my point was - reading the article had Razors "imprint" about their IP ALL OVER IT, as apposed for a plea for safety and security.

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

This user has validated their user name. by: Siobhan

Tue Dec 15 00:36:13 2015

Reminds me of the Sedgwick devices (similar to the hoverboard, but had a center post and handle) of years ago that were all the rage, until the inventor of them got killed by it by it getting out of control and him mortally injuring himself.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 15 03:39:23 2015

a few more HANDMADE ones on Etsy :-)
^^
Notice the new name "segway" and not hoverboard.
Boy, folks will do anything to make a buck.

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Dec 15 13:26:45 2015

Product liability issues are another reason why online sellers should be incorporated.

LLC stands for Limited Liability Corporation. The ONLY thing my LLC owns is my inventory.

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 15 20:24:34 2015

Manufacturers should be liable not sellers.

Why not ban butter knife ot may cut someone

Of course stupi.china gotta make crappy dangerous version and anazon and ebay love china fakes

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by: lyon1967 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Dec 18 10:44:29 2015

Advantages Small Companies Have Over Large Companies..
Small businesses have many advantages over their larger competitors. Much like trying to turn an aircraft carrier, larger companies are not as nimble and swift as small businesses.
1- Quick to Change
As the owner of a small business, you have the distinct advantage of changing your plan or tactics much faster than your larger competitors. You can bring a product to market more quickly when you have only a few people involved in its creation
2-The Feeling of Family/Close to the Customer The feeling of being a part of a family is also an advantage that small businesses have over larger one
3-Lean Structure..A small business is, by nature, very leans. management makes decision times much quicker. Manage inventory.
I understand China gets a big break with postage and what not. The thing I don't get is why people continue to gripe about it? Accept and move on!!! Use the time to source niches you can grow in. What I'm really saying is if you are trying to sell the same junk that come out of China you'll keep hating life. What better time to do an evaluation of your business. Get rid of  old merch that doesn't sell. Just like its produce getting worse by the day. Recoup some of your money and you''ll have room to source some new merchandise. Your either moving forward of backwards. Ask yourself which direction you're going. Then get excited and make things happen. Blessings. -F

Perminate Link for Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability   Hoverboards Provide Sellers with Lessons on Product Liability

by: booklover27 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 19 08:08:42 2015

Hopefully they'll wind up with billions of dollars in lawsuits and will be forced to close up...



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