Dangerous products takedown agreement with EU signed by four marketplaces

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Four marketplaces have signed a Product Safety Pledge with the EU to remove dangerous products from their sites as soon as they’re notified of them. The marketplaces are Alibaba (for AliExpress), Amazon, eBay and Rakuten France (Priceminister).

The marketplaces have undertaken to respond to notifications on dangerous products from EU Member State authorities within 2 working days and take action on notices from customers within 5 working days.

“More and more people in the EU are shopping online. E-commerce has opened up new possibilities for consumers, offering them more choice at lower prices. Consumers should be just as safe when they buy online, as when they buy in a shop. I welcome the Product Safety Pledge which will further improve consumer safety. I call also on other online marketplaces to join this initiative, so that the internet becomes a safer place for EU consumers.”
– Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality

In recent years there have been a couple of high profile instances in the US where Amazon banned sales of a product and refunded buyers telling them to destroy the products they’d purchased. There was the hoverboard incident and more recently the solar eclipse glasses. Both of these instances were devastating for the sellers involved and sadly some who even had the correct safety certification for their products were caught up in the issue as they couldn’t get their documentation to the marketplace before the damage of refunds and cancelled sales took place.

There are two issues here – one for dangerous goods which simply should never be sold in the EU in the first place and the second for legitimate goods for which there may be a product recall or safety alert. For retailers selling into the EU (whether domestic seller or from outside the EU) you should always ensure that your products are correctly certified and be ready to prove – for electronic products this probably indicates CE approval (and if you’re sourcing from China make sure the products really are ‘Conformité Européenne’ and not ‘China Export’ which factories often use to try and fool retailers and consumers alike!).

Online sales represented 20% of the total sales in 2016 in the EU and it has been noticed that more and more of the dangerous products notified in the Rapid Alert System are sold online. This shows the need for all online marketplaces to continue and further step up their efforts when it comes to removing dangerous products. The EU Ecommerce Directive introduces notice and take-down procedures for problematic content online, but it does not regulate them in detail. Now, the four major online marketplaces have agreed to a series of commitments to ensure EU consumers are well protected in a dangerous products takedown agreement.

Alibaba Group (for AliExpress), Amazon, eBay and Rakuten-France commit to taking the following measures:

  • React within two working days to authorities’ notices made to the companies’ contact points to remove listings offering unsafe products. Companies should follow-up and inform the authorities on the action taken.
  • Provide a clear way for customers to notify dangerous product listings. Such notices are treated expeditiously and appropriate response is given within five working days.
  • Consult information on recalled/dangerous products available on the EU Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products and also from other sources, such as from enforcement authorities and take appropriate action with respect to the products concerned, when they can be identified.
  • Provide specific single contact points for EU Member State authorities for the notifications on dangerous products and for the facilitation of communication on product safety issues.
  • Take measures aimed at preventing the reappearance of dangerous product listings already removed.
  • Provide information/training to sellers on compliance with EU product safety legislation, require sellers to comply with the law, and provide sellers with the link to the list of EU product safety legislation.

“The European Commission encourages other online marketplaces to follow the good example of the four companies taking the lead today and sign up and contribute to improving product safety online for consumers in the EU.”
– European Commission


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