AmazonBasics products are going up in flames, but not enough to stop Amazon from selling them


According to an extensive investigation by CNN, several AmazonBasics products that have been reported as fire hazards are still for sale on Amazon.

Some stories about hazardous products are harsh. In one, a man went to the hospital after setting fire to his chair while he was sleeping, apparently due to a molten USB cord. AmazonBasics’ microwave caught fire when an eight-year-old macaroni and cheese cup was heated. A man saw a fire coming from the AmazonBasics surge protector, while only one phone charger was plugged into it – as his child slept in a nearby room.

The reports have apparently been pending for years. CNN counted at least 1,500 reviews for more than 70 items since 2016, describing “products exploding, catching on fire, smoking, melting, causing electrical malfunction or otherwise being at risk.”

Amazon has taken some items that customers have reported to be dangerous, such as USB cables and surge protectors, though many still remain on the site, CNN says:

Within more than 1,500 reviews, many consumers have explicitly called the item potentially dangerous – using terms such as “hazard” or “fire” or should the product be recalled. Approximately 30 items with three or more such reviews remain for sale on Amazon.com today. At least 11 other products that fit this criteria were not for sale at the time of publication. Some became unavailable after CNN began its reporting, and at least four product pages were removed from the retailer’s site altogether – dead URLs known by employees as “dog pages”. Amazon confirmed that at least eight of these products were under investigation, but the company said they determined they all met their safety standards.

Despite several perceived security issues, however, according to CNN, Amazon has only released two official recall of AmazonBasics products. The Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has received at least 10 reports in just eight years, citing an AmazonBasics product that is similar to those reviewed in the CNN analysis.

When confronted by CNN, Amazon pointed to specific reasons why some products met their safety standards or – in some cases – how to remove it after the report. (The USB cable apparently met Amazon’s standards but was also removed at some point.)

Amazon has come under constant scrutiny for selling defective products in the past – The ledge A January report counted more than 60 federal lawsuits on Amazon’s product liability in the past decade.

The CNN investigation is well worth a read, including interviews with former Amazon employees discussing measures taken to test for security issues in AmazonBasics products.