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U.S. Court Rules Amazon Can Be Held Liable For Third-Party Seller Defective Products

     
3:33 pm on Jul 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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A U.S. Federal court has ruled that Amazon can be held liable for defective third party seller products.

In Wednesday’s opinion, Circuit Judge Jane Richards Roth, writing for a 2-1 majority of a three-judge panel, said Amazon may be liable in part because its business model “enables third-party vendors to conceal themselves from the customer, leaving customers injured by defective products with no direct recourse to the third-party vendor.”


[reuters.com...]

This may result in other similar businesses becoming liable for defective products from third-party.
6:07 pm on July 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It is about time.
8:04 pm on July 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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In today's headlines, Amazon dot com is introducted to a basic legal principle: liability goes to the party you had a contract with, whether or not they're the ones who provided the service. Yawn.
8:34 pm on July 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It's one of the main reasons I don't buy from third-party resellers on Amazon. Been there, done that, been burnt with crappy rubbish.

It does seem odd it's taken this long, and I think it's great move.
2:55 am on July 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The option was always there ... Amazon managed to dodge a few bullets in the past over defective/injury inducing lawsuits by simply having more money to stall legal action than the plaintiff. This time the plaintiff managed to carry through and henceforth the mega company is on notice that products sold through their permit will be ON THEM.

A win for consumers.
9:10 am on July 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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This ruling only applies to the laws of one US state, right? How similar are other states laws?

Does it affect the likes of ebay which make it much clearer who the seller is?

I buy a fair bit on Ebay, but always only UK sellers.
9:58 am on July 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@graeme_p i thought this already applied in the uk ... i'm pretty sure that under the consumer rights act 2015, that the retailer is always liable - eg. they cannot refer the customer to the manufacturer for instance .... i'm not a lawyer all my knowledge comes from listening to the consumer hour on LBC radio!

i'm not sure about ebay though, because they don't claim to be a retailer and you are paying the seller directly when you buy something, whereas on amazon you pay amazon whoever you buy off.
9:56 pm on July 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I can see why this makes sense because a lot of consumers simply don't understand how Amazon works and just think they are buying from Amazon.

Mack.
12:39 am on July 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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consumers simply don't understand
If you give your money to Amazon, you are buying from Amazon. When the roof of your new house caves in, the contractor can’t tell you to take it up with the roofer; that’s not who you had your contract with.
7:01 am on July 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I bet the terms of Amazon are armored about all of this , and that, by placing an order, consumers accept xxx, yyy, and not to zzz :)
8:46 am on July 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I bet the terms of Amazon are armored about all of this , and that, by placing an order, consumers accept xxx, yyy, and not to zzz :)

The court can rule that a contract term is contrary to law and thus invalid. I haven't read the judgement but I would guess that is the case here.
3:21 pm on July 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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In this case the original dealer of the product was not able to be contacted (false info). The court ruled that in that case it must be Amazon.

While interesting and inspiring, I gotta think this ruling will get overturned and tossed by a higher court
5:46 pm on July 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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In this case the original dealer of the product was not able to be contacted (false info)

:)

In a way, it's also a failure from Amazon, for having let someone register his product with false information. I wonder how he proceeded, if he did create fake things to pass the verification process, or if it's Amazon's verification process which is not good.

When I do buy things at Amazon, I carefully verify this is sold and expedited by Amazon itself, the information is presented, but more or less lost in the mass. also, I am sure that lot of people are not paying attention, too happy to get something cheaper than the "normal" price.

I wonder what is the percentage of scammers sellers at Amazon . Because, selling a defective / disappointing product, having bad or inexistent customer support is one thing, but registering with false information shows a true intention to scam buyers...
5:22 am on July 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I've never had a problem with Amazon in nearly 20 years, nor with the odd third party seller.

For that matter I've only had three minor [amicably resolved] problems with eBay.au out of 366 transactions in over 10+ years which represents less that 1% of those transactions. Never had a problem with PayPal either.

As an Associate of Amazon for 20 years on the other side of the fence, as well as all other affiliate programs over 20 years I haven't had problems with them either. AdSense also no real problems as such.

I always have to wonder when I hear complaints - especially when we drill right down through the facts to eventually later find out that...Most of you know as well as I do.
7:14 am on July 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@topr8, the retailer is always liable, but who is the retailer? If a site is a marketplace they can argue that the (third party) seller is the retailer.

You do pay Ebay if you buy on Ebay (at least I always have). Its still very different from Amazon because they do not sell anything themselves, they do not ship products for sellers, and that is very clear to customers. As @mack says consumers are likely to think they are buying from Amazon even when it is a third party seller, whereas its much clearer on Ebay. Amazon does have the the information but its not very prominent and it may be misunderstood even if seen.
9:08 pm on July 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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>>You do pay Ebay if you buy on Ebay (at least I always have).

really, when i buy on ebay with PayPal, my bank statement shows the sellers name ... i assumed it was going directly to them. is it actually going to ebay?
12:10 am on July 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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eBay and Amazon are two different critters. Conflating the two is erroneous.
12:45 pm on July 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@topr8, I was mistaken, and you are correct. I just checked my credit card it the statement shows "Paypal *selles name"

So although I pay on the Ebay site their involvement is limited to being a payment handler, not a retailer.

@tangor, Yes, but Amazon' defence in the case is that as far as third party sellers are concerned they are playing a similar role to Ebay therefore should not be liable.
5:38 pm on July 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Seems pretty straight forward, if you pay Amazon then Amazon is liable, period. What or who they source is not your concern.

I'm seeing a whole lot of videos recently of Amazon employees defacating and urinating on people's properties. I wonder if that's a smear campaign.