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Senate Democrats urge Amazon to recall, stop sales of explosive products

Senate Democrats urge Amazon to recall, stop sales of explosive products
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Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWatchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Kasie Hunt to host lead-in show for MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Senators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report MORE (N.J.) and Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenate Republicans offer constitutional amendment to block Supreme Court packing Time to honor the 'ghosts' of WWII OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Federal officials press concerns about proposed mine near Georgia swamp, documents show | Trump falsely claims Green New Deal calls for 'tiny little windows' | Interior appeals migratory bird ruling MORE (Mass.) on Friday called on Amazon to stop the sale of products that have reportedly caused explosions and other electrical malfunctions. 

The senators announced in a press release that they had written a joint letter to Amazon CEO and Chairman Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosBlue Origin takes one small step toward being a competitor to SpaceX Democrats question Amazon over reported interference of workers' rights to organize Hillicon Valley: Twitter lacked adequate cybersecurity protection ahead of July hacks, regulator says | Twitter, Facebook clamp down on New York Post article about Hunter Biden | YouTube bans COVID-19 vaccine misinformation MORE calling on the company to “immediately stop the sale of dangerous and defective AmazonBasics products, recall them, and effectively and immediately notify consumers of potential risks.”

The letter comes after CNN reported on Thursday that dozens of Amazon products sold under its AmazonBasics line have exploded and started fires. The outlet referenced at least 1,500 customer reviews, covering more than 70 items, with descriptions of products exploding, catching on fire, smoking or posing other risks. 

CNN reported that about 30 items with three or more of those reviews remained for sale on Amazon’s website as of Thursday. 

The press release from the senators mentioned the case of Austin Parra of Connecticut, who was hospitalized with second-degree burns and throat injuries from smoke inhalation after his AmazonBasics USB cord set fire to an office chair while he was sleeping.

Phone chargers were said to have caused burns on people's limbs, and exploding batteries reportedly sprayed chemicals, according to CNN

“Amazon must prioritize consumer safety over sales, particularly as consumers turn to online marketplaces during the coronavirus pandemic,” the senators wrote in their letter to Bezos. 

The lawmakers added, “As the manufacturer and retailer of AmazonBasics products—Amazon’s private and popular budget label line—Amazon must immediately stop selling any AmazonBasics products that are defective, notify consumers that are in possession of these products, and work with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to conduct swift and thorough recalls to remove these dangerous products from homes.”

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The senators also called Amazon’s consumer notification and recall notice process “inadequate and underutilized,” demanding a “more vigilant safety response” system. 

The senators asked that Amazon provide customers additional information on the safety of AmazonBasics products at the time of sale, including which safety certifications the products have received. 

In response to the CNN report on Thursday, an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill that “safety is a top priority at Amazon.” 

“We take several steps to ensure our products are safe including rigorous testing by our safety teams and third party labs. The appliance continues to meet or exceed all certification requirements established by the FDA, UL, FCC, Prop 65, and others for safety and functionality,” the spokesperson added.

Blumenthal, Menendez and Markey previously wrote a letter to Amazon in August 2019 after an investigation by The Wall Street Journal found more than 4,000 products for sale on Amazon that were “unsafe, deceptively labeled or banned.”