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.