The consumer group, Which?, has become the latest to throw its weight behind the call for better regulations upon online marketplaces that allow the sale of unsafe or untested toys upon their platforms.
In its most recent spotlight on online marketplaces, Which? found a number of products for sale on online marketplaces Amazon and eBay that it believed posed a risk to children. In the wake, eBay removed 12 flagged products, while Amazon removed five.
The group looked at toys which had been registered as dangerous by the EU’s safety gate system since 2017 in a scheme that flags products being sold online that have been recalled, withdrawn from sale or stopped at the border over safety concerns.
Safety risks posed by some of the products that have been flagged – encompassing some slime, a magnetic building set, inflatable swim ring and a remote controlled car – included high levels of chemicals, too much lead and the risk of intestinal blockage from loose parts.
Which? Has now asked that the next government takes steps to make online marketplaces legally responsible for stopping dangerous products from being listed. The move is an echo of the toy industry’s own BTHA which raised the same concerns earlier this year.
The BTHA previously warned that one in five toys it found sold on Amazon and eBay were dangerous for children. Both the industry body and consumer group Which? Are looking to change legislation that exonerates online marketplaces of the responsibility of ensuring products sold via their platforms are safe.
Caroline Norman, director of advocacy at Which?, said: “It’s clear that consumer protections have not kept pace with the changes to the retail industry, and it is not acceptable for marketplaces to pass the buck for the responsibility of the items sold on their sites by simply pointing the finger at sellers.
“The next government must make marketplaces legally responsible for preventing unsafe products from being sold on their sites, establish clearer requirements for taking down dangerous products and ensure better enforcement is in place to keep consumers safe.”
Both Amazon and eBay issued their responses to Which?. eBay stated that ‘sellers aren’t permitted to list dangerous products, or items that have been recalled’, and that the listings flagged ‘have been removed and requests have been sent to the sellers that they contact customers with a safety notice and their refunds policy.’
Amazon said: “All sellers must follow our selling guidelines, and those who do not will be subject to action including potential removal of their account. The products in question are no longer available.”
Amazon also said its first objective is to block suspicious, unsafe, or non-compliant products from being listed.