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Couple fires sueball at Amazon over faulty solar eclipse-viewing goggles

Site for sore eyes.

Amazon seem very happy to profit (tax free) from all kinds of counterfeit goods openly sold on their site. Replacement smartphone batteries spring to mind, but I'm sure the list is near endless. I'd certainly not trust Amazon with my eyesight.

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Re: Site for sore eyes.

I see the same stuff on eBay, any shop which allows other people to sell things are easily targetted (Do you think they will be bothered to test items?)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Site for sore eyes.

I'd certainly not trust Amazon with my eyesight.

I did, and my glasses worked great. You see, I learned about the eclipse in November 2016 and bought my glasses the following February. I took it upon myself to buy a reputable product long before it sold out.

I sympathize with what has happened to this couple. I do not, however, think that Amazon can be liable for failures of every single product they sell, especially since much of what they sell is listed by third-party resellers through the Amazon Marketplace.

Just for the sake of argument, has an automobile dealer ever been successfully sued for selling a car with manufacturing defects it had no knowledge of?

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Thumb Down

Re: Site for sore eyes.

Amazon are useless at clearing out the obviously fake stuff from their site, even if you report it. For example, how much would you expect to pay for a 512 GB capacity USB stick? Around £150 to £200? Amazon has several vendors selling them for between £10 and £20. The comments are telling:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/512GB-Black-Silver-FLASH-MEMORY/dp/B01CJVSPR2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504189185&sr=8-1&keywords=512gb+usb+memory+stick

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Re: Site for sore eyes.

"I do not, however, think that Amazon can be liable for failures of every single product they sell, especially since much of what they sell is listed by third-party resellers through the Amazon Marketplace."

This is starting to become a bit of a theme, trying to dodge consumer law because it's only a marketplace. Is a department store responsible for what it sells? Yes. In the UK, certainly, you take defects up with the retailer, and then they can sort it out with the manufacturer. I guess the US doesn't have very much in the way of consumer law, but here the person that sold you it is legally responsible, and that person is Amazon. You bought it from Amazon, they can write 'sold by somebody else' on it, but that, I would guess, is bullshit from a legal point of view. Amazon takes my money, the contract is formed with Amazon.

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Re: Site for sore eyes.

Just for the sake of argument, has an automobile dealer ever been successfully sued for selling a car with manufacturing defects it had no knowledge of?

But they do handle recalls.

VW can't say that a faulty car is nothing to do with them because they are VW Retail Ltd and are merely reselling a car built by VW Manufacturing GMBH and anyway they aren't talking to you because you are actually a customer of VW Financial Services SA.

(actually BMW did try this and got a mild wrist slap)

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Re: Site for sore eyes.

You're only buying something from Amazon if it says "Sold by Amazon" in the listing. Otherwise you aren't. Actually in a lot of department stores these days many of the counters are actually concessions, so again the store owner isn't the seller.

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Re: Site for sore eyes.

Amazon shouldn't be liable for every single product sold on the site, however their liability should kick in once somebody (and just one person) makes them aware that something is not legit.

For what it is worth: https://www.amazon.fr/gp/aw/d/B0196H3BSA/

It calls itself a JYE DSO138 oscilloscope kit. It's not great, being basically the ADC of an STM32 microcontroller, but for poking around video signals and low frequency stuff, it will suffice. Besides, I wanted to have fun putting it together. Notice all the JYE photos, the serial number, etc. Well what arrived was very obviously a fake. I contacted Amazon, "we take this seriously" and "we checked our stock" and so on. The usual bollocks. I was invited to return my kit and they would send me a proper one. I'll give them credit, they sent the replacement straight away so I could open up both and check that I had all the right components (the kits had incorrect values but of different things so between them I got all the right bits). Why bother? Well you've probably guessed that the replacement kit was equally fake. At this point I forwarded my emails to JYE and told them to add Amazon to the list of companies selling fakes, and then I gave up. I wanted to build the kit, not run around in Kafkaesque circles. As it happens it worked first time for me (perhaps having all the right bits helps? ;-) ) and is what I wanted. Maybe this coming winter I'll try the DSO Shell, now I know I can get an original from Banggood.

Notice that this fake kit is still being sold, and is still paying itself off as a proper JYE kit. Notice also that my review pointing out it's a fake isn't there. I'll need to write it again and this time take a screenshot.

tl;dr: There are fakes on Amazon and when it is brought to their attention, bugger all happens...

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JLV
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Re: Site for sore eyes.

I am a happy customer of Amazon's.

However...there are way too many dodgy products being sold. From invalid license key Windows disks to obviously faked book reviews. I've reported the latter and saw no action. Forcing Amazon to exercise more due diligence on products it sells, even via 3rd party, does not seem unreasonable hardship. Especially when they've previously been notified of issues.

A brick and mortar would be liable if they knowingly sold dodgy crap from dodgy sources. No one would say "dumb customer didn't research". Why should Amazon be any different?

Esp when it comes to products with health impact. In the case of your eyes getting screwed up, I can't think of too many things with a worse outcome for people in our line of work, this ain't frivolous. In the specific case of eclipse glasses, I can see where Amazon might struggle to establish the bona fides of sellers of such temporary products though.

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Tax free?

"Amazon seem very happy to profit (tax free)..." How so?

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Re: Site for sore eyes.

"Amazon are useless at clearing out the obviously fake stuff from their site, even if you report it.... The comments are telling..."
" Obviously some purchasers have shit for brains. I always read the comments before deciding whether to purchase, not after!

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Boffin

@AC Re: Site for sore eyes.

I sympathize with what has happened to this couple. I do not, however, think that Amazon can be liable for failures of every single product they sell, especially since much of what they sell is listed by third-party resellers through the Amazon Marketplace.

Yes, Amazon can and will be held liable for selling defective products.

There is an amount of liability that Amazon has when they make a marketplace for third party resellers to sell products under the Amazon Brand.

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

As a class action, expect Amazon to settle where those affected will get nothing and the lawyers get a large chunk of the settlement.

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Boffin

Re: Site for sore eyes.

"You're only buying something from Amazon if it says "Sold by Amazon" in the listing."

No.

Amazon is making their brand available to third parties where Amazon is housing product for the third party and is managing the sale/transaction of the product. Amazon will have a certain amount of liability.

I do expect that Amazon will raise this issue, but they will lose.

Think of it this way... would you buy a product from Ma and Pa Kettle if they just put up a website on GoDaddy or Network Solutions? Or did you find the product on Amazon and they had the lowest price?

It gets complicated because Network Solutions and GoDaddy offer site space and handling the electronic payments, and I think some level of fraud protection... But they don't hold stock or manage fulfillment.

The mom and pop shops are not at 'arms length' and IMHO, Amazon will lose if this goes to trial.

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Boffin

Re: Tax free?

Because its mail order if you order from Amazon and Amazon doesn't have a physical plant in your state, you are not charged sales tax and the burden of reporting the sale is on you.

So if you buy your expensive IT hardware from a site in California but you live in NY or IL, you save $$$ because they don't report the sale to your state and they don't collect sales tax so the state doesn't see the loss of tax revenue.

Amazon has since changed their rules and AFAIK, they will now charge sales tax in most if not all states.

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Re: Site for sore eyes.

"A brick and mortar would be liable if they knowingly sold dodgy crap from dodgy sources. No one would say "dumb customer didn't research". Why should Amazon be any different?"

I can see the point that some are making. If you buy something off a market stall you don't complain to the market site manager. You complain to the market stall holder. If they do nothing, complaining to the market site manager may get them evicted but the manager still can't do much to help you.

In Amazons case, it's not always obvious who you are buying from. Sometimes it's Amazon. Sometimes it's "fulfilled by Amazon", other times, Amazon are just the site manager for a 3rd party "shop". It can be confusing for many and I personally think Amazon have a responsibility as well as their own business reputation management obligation to make things much clearer to the customers.

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Obligatory The Simpsons quote "My Eyes! The Goggles Do Nothing!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juFZh92MUOY

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Coat

I didn't see that coming.

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Childcatcher

the BOFH angle

"changes in perception of color, and distorted vision"

didn't the BOFH warn us about that effect not long ago?

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/07/07/bofh_2017_episode_9/

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Sungazing should never be taken lightly!!

I cannot verify if the plaintiffs' eyes are really damaged, but it is certainly possible (hopefully it is only temporary damage, no worse). This is why I (and all others I know doing solar astronomy outreach) always warn people to buy directly from a reputable astronomy store (as I did for the family). Only during totality is it safe to watch the sun without protection. That view can be stunning, however, as can be seen in the diamond ring and corona shots I managed to take with a 400mm telephoto.

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Re: Sungazing should never be taken lightly!!

I suspect their eyes are permanently damaged unfortunately. Their brain will make up for the damaged parts filling it in as best it can, but they will have destroyed part of their retina and now have blind spots.

Unfortunately due to branding people think anything sold on Amazon is quality, but really it's no better than buying something off a street market or eBay.

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Windows

Re: Sungazing should never be taken lightly!!

"Unfortunately due to branding people think anything sold on Amazon is quality, but really it's no better than buying something off a street market or eBay out of some stranger's trunk in a video store parking lot."

FTFY

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Re: Sungazing should never be taken lightly!!

@Michael H.F. Wilkinson

Beautiful shots! Nice job.

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@ Peter 26 Re: Sungazing should never be taken lightly!!

"I suspect their eyes are permanently damaged unfortunately. "

It depends a bit on the duration and level of exposure. Most people return to normal vision within 1 - 6 months, fortunately. In many cases the damage to the retina appears to be reversible (more-or-less like a sunburn to the retina). Only in fairly rare cases is the damage permanent. As you correctly state, in those cases the brain can help "work around" the damaged bits, but if the damage to the foveal area is severe in both eyes, permanent loss of visual acuity may well result.

Let's hope they fall into the larger, first category

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Re: Sungazing should never be taken lightly!!

1. Buy ultra cheap sun-glasses from Amazon.

2. When the eclipse happens, hide in the cellar to be absolutely safe.

3. Sue Amazon anyway, PROFIT!

Of course I don't know really if they even have a cellar.

But "someone in America sues someone else" generally isn't news even you are the one suing or being sued.

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Re: Sungazing should never be taken lightly!!

"Unfortunately due to branding people think anything sold on Amazon is quality, but really it's no better than buying something off a street market or eBay out of some stranger's trunk in a video store former Blockbuster parking lot."

FTFTFY

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Re: Sungazing should never be taken lightly!!

Hey at least buying from a trunk you know it's fake and you might even be able to inspect the goods . I got nice knock off leather jacket that way.

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Re: Sungazing should never be taken lightly!!

I'm still waiting for the story of someone buying fake stuff from someone's trunk only to learn the buyer had paid with counterfeit money.

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Re: Sungazing should never be taken lightly!!

Stop reading my diary .

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sungazing should never be taken lightly!!

I cant help thinking that you get what you pay for, like those who buy bargain basement broadband services and then complain bitterly that they don't get full speed 24/7.

A colleague of mine says *buy cheap - buy twice" and to some extent he is right, I'm not saying that a high price is always a sign of quality - but many seem to be guided by price rather than doing some real research into products - including a look at any reviews or recommendations from those who already tried the products.

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Re: Sungazing should never be taken lightly!!

"Hey at least buying from a trunk you know it's fake and you might even be able to inspect the goods . I got nice knock off leather jacket that way."

Unless they pull a fast switch and that nice "iPad" you inspected turns into an empty box with a couple of potatoes in it :-)

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Get out the popcorn

This will be fun. Did the manufacturers say in their blurb that the shades were 'approved'? If so, it's a bit much to expect a retailer to check the standards of every single product they sell. Should the corner shop run their own tests on a tin of Heinz beans?

And if the manufacturer did say they were approved, why sue Amazon and not the manufacturer? Oh, of course, Amazon are rich, the manufacturer is probably in China.

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Re: Get out the popcorn

You go after Amazon because your contract (the purchase) is with them so it is up to them to ensure their products are fit for purpose. The manufacturer for instance will not be able to give you a refund, because you didn't buy it from them, you bought it from Amazon who are the company you deal with.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Get out the popcorn

Amazon whilst a retailer, is also a market place. If they were sold by a 3rd party on Amazon, then I don't believe they can be held liable - Its akin to buying something from a market stool, then sueing the location owner.

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Optional

It's like suing The Trafford Centre/Metro Centre/Bluewater for buying something dodgy from an independent shop inside. Obviously if you bought them from a big name shop then there's money to be bled so you would be better off going for them than Amazon. Doubtful in this case.

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Re: Get out the popcorn

Customers can sue Amazon, and Amazon can hunt down the manafacturers to recoup its court losses, but won't get anything from fly-by-night scammers in China.

Reputable companies will refuse to do business with dodgy companies - or distribute dodgy products - that expose them to massive liability, reputational damage, or criminal prosecution. If Amazon routinely turns a blind eye (d'oh) it deserves to be DESTROYED.

Ebay, Newegg, Steam, Apple, Google, and many others have entered the "3rd-party marketplace" business. They seem all too happy to take a hefty cut of 3rd-party sales while doing precious little to earn it. Some of them obscure the fact that the seller is a 3rd party, and most of them fail to identify and remove bad actors in a timely fashion. Time to face the consequences.

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Re: Get out the popcorn

"Amazon whilst a retailer, is also a market place. If they were sold by a 3rd party on Amazon, then I don't believe they can be held liable - Its akin to buying something from a market stool, then sueing the location owner."

No it isn't, as the money is given to Amazon, who then pay someone else. It's more like a subcontractor, and you don't have to sue the guy the construction company brought in to do the painting, you sue your construction company.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Get out the popcorn

Who took the money and who supplied the goods?

Sure, you could argue that fleabay do the same but they are advertised as a re-seller/second hand goods, Amazon on the other hand are a retailer, in fact they also have physical stores.

It'll be interesting to see what happens.

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Re: Get out the popcorn

"Amazon whilst a retailer, is also a market place. If they were sold by a 3rd party on Amazon, then I don't believe they can be held liable"

You can't turn a profit without accepting liability, or are you proposing a risk-free business model?

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Re: Optional

If I'd paid my money to the Bluewater Metro Centre then YES, I would consider them to be responsible. When Amazon stops taking payment and directs customers directly to a retailer for payment they can be absolved from some of the responsibility. But even then not all, if they are publishing the claims for the product.

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Re: Get out the popcorn

If the glasses were brought from a third party vendor are Amazon responsible for any refunds requested? I'm not sure that they are, any more that a towns market operator would be responsible for refunding a faulty product brought from one of the market stalls.

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Re: Get out the popcorn

Should the corner shop run their own tests on a tin of Heinz beans?

If they decided to buy unlabeled cans from a bloke in the pub - yes.

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Re: Get out the popcorn

If the glasses were brought from a third party vendor are Amazon responsible for any refunds requested?

Your contract was with Amazon, you paid Amazon, you went to Amazon because of their trusted name.

Otherwise every store would have a small print saying that they, Tesco, are merely a marketplace and the real seller is Tesco Trading Bahamas LTD

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Get out the popcorn

No it isn't, as the money is given to Amazon, who then pay someone else. It's more like a subcontractor, and you don't have to sue the guy the construction company brought in to do the painting, you sue your construction company.

Ah, by that logic I should be suing my credit card company, as they gave the money to Amazon, who then gave it to someone else.

It's not a subcontractor thing at all, especially if it's the third party who physically packages and sends the item.

After all, I can't sue Expedia if my plane trip breaks my leg, I sue the airline providing the flight.

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Re: Get out the popcorn

In the case of your CC company - they are ultimately responsible for at least the refund. Obviously it gets murkier with Amazon - but they have listed the goods. If they don’t have validation on quality and it fails and hurts someone then yes, they should be responsible. Otherwise they are taking all of the advantages of size, tax breaks etc.. with none of the responsibility

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JLV
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Facepalm

Re: Get out the popcorn

A market stool with a $470B stock market valuation then ;-)

I don't mean that in the sense "deep pockets, go after them". Though maybe the plaintiffs do.

I mean that as "reputable".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Get out the popcorn

@pleb

between Government bailouts and tax loopholes really big business is nearly risk-free.

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Re: Get out the popcorn

I can and have asked my credit card company to refund me after the shop I bought a thing from refused to make good.

In accordance with the Consumer Credit Act, the credit card company refunded me with very little hassle.

They may or may not have gone after the original seller, but I was quite happy to leave them to decide on that.

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Boffin

I've been wondering whether this would end up blowing up - certainly seems like a lot in the nerd community have been chomping popcorn in anticipation of Amazon finally getting its comeuppance where fake products are concerned. I've heard numbers like 150k fake glasses sales being bandied around, which isn't a small number where potential sueballs involving physical bodily-harm comes in to play.

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Windows

This is why

I stuck to telling folks that if they couldn't be absolutely certain where the glasses came from to use a goddamn pinhole camera.

Oddly, had about 4 of the neighbours ask how to do this .. ended up with about 12 variations on the idea, and several of us compared results.

Hopefully this is just Darwinism in action, not greedy twats.

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