> In Wednesday’s opinion, Circuit Judge Jane Richards Roth, writing for a 2-1 majority of a three-judge panel, said Amazon may be liable in part because its business model “enables third-party vendors to conceal themselves from the customer, leaving customers injured by defective products with no direct recourse to the third-party vendor.”
Seems like Amazon can just force third-party vendors to reveal their full legal identity to the customer then?
I don't care who's liable as long as someone's liable and it's fully enforceable within the US court system.
And, if Amazon's entire supply chain is filled with counterfeits, all the more reason why Amazon should 1) reveal who the seller really is, or 2) be liable for the counterfeits.
Given this, customers should already have been wary of purchasing from Amazon, enough that finding out that they're often purchasing from third-parties shouldn't further affect their opinion (i.e. they should already have as low an opinion of Amazon as if they had already known that, because of the other supply-chain problems.)
I've also always been a bit curious if amazon might be liable for defective products shipped through their warehouse by virtue of the transfer of custody alone. This sort of business model is quite new (it's worlds different from a flea market) and there are several interesting commercial responsibility questions around it.
What exactly am I missing here?
In both cases, Amazon loses business.
If you're selling in the US, I need to be able to effectively sue you and win in the US if you sell harmful or illegal products, full stop. So you should have to put up some kind of financial bond and a law firm to represent you. Because mom and pop businesses can't do this themselves, this should be provided as a kind of insurance policy that's just part of the cost of doing business. Heck, Amazon can be that insurance policy if they want.
But right -- if I can't sue you, you should under no circumstances be allowed to sell within the US on a US platform.
So any US corporation or LLC should meet the "US legal and financial presence" requirement that you describe.
Minimizing the prominence of seller identity and maximizing that of the Amazon brand has been a key Amazon business strategy; they very much want sellers not to matter.
I suspect, though, that even were that problem cured, their commingling practice would leave them liable unless they also allowed buyers access to the identity of and the ability to reject transactions based on the original product source (which may not be the seller, due to commingling) with FBA products.
I bought a defective sever power supply from a 3rd party seller at Amazon in Europe. Amazon claims they don't know the identity/address/email of this seller. Wrote it off as a loss.
Edit: I mean, Amazon must have given this guy my money. They must have something from him. Bank account, Email etc.
If Amazon wants to conceal information about the seller, then they have to deal with the things that the seller would usually deal with.
On the flip side for Amazon,it feels unfair that the seller has my contact details and can use it to send me emails asking for reviews and to market their other products even when I've opted out of marketing emails. I've had a few counterfeit products where the seller just hasn't responded and I've been refunded but left with the counterfeit item, which doesn't sit well with me. The comingling is an awful problem, and if there were another site that offered next day delivery on a variety of goods with guaranteed wualotythat was more expensive, id swap in a heartbeat.
But. If you arrange the transaction between the two sellers and hold payment+device in escrow, then that's clearly "arranged between two sellers" and wouldn't be the target of this ruling.
(Escrow insurance isn't cheap, though. And without escrow, you have nothing but risk.)
They already do. You have their data on invoice.
When I order from a third-party seller, there's no guarantee there's any invoice?
If they ship directly, sometimes it comes with a kind of paper receipt, sometimes it doesn't.
If they fulfill via Amazon, it definitely doesn't. I don't think I've gotten a receipt/invoice with any Amazon package in years... (I remember it used to come with them.)
And I click through my online order and click on the name of the seller, it just has tabs with things like generic shipping and return policies. I can't find any legal or contact info whatsoever beyond the name.
For example, try to track down this seller (Amazon Germany)
Is this not accurate?
That's not actually relevant for this case, however. In this case it sounds like the item in question was not fulfilled by Amazon but was directly shipped by a seller who is no longer active and cannot be reached using whatever contact information Amazon has.
I'm actually kind of surprised by this ruling because it seems like it is requiring Amazon to maintain current contact information for former sellers for some indeterminate amount of time. I guess the closest thing that I'm thinking of in terms of another business working like this is dropshipping where you sell items without maintaining an inventory but instead have the order shipped directly from a manufacturer or wholesaler to your customer. That's actually fairly common with a lot of computer equipment, where you'll see on a website a mention of "ships directly from manufacturer"
Even with books, there are many copyright-violating counterfeits, alongside many “printed on demand” copies at horrible quality (but not advertised as such) under some kind of shady deal Amazon forced down publishers’ throats.
Unfortunately Amazon has driven many alternative vendors out of the market, so it’s sometimes hard to find things elsewhere online.
I think the Fire tablets have severely undermined people's opinions of what a non-Apple tablet is.
I was a legitimate seller about 10 years ago and I had a competitor buy one of my products and complained to Amazon that it was a counterfeit. My account was suspended and I had no recourse. To this day, I can't be attached to any seller account without it being put under review and eventually banned.
At this point I had 100% positive feedback and I spent lots of time to please all of my customers. My money was held for 90 days and it nearly bankrupted me.
I learned two things from this:
1) Don't base your entire business on a third-party platform. They become your boss and a single point of failure.
2) Fuck Amazon. I hope they get broken up and destroyed by the US government. They abused their third-party sellers for years and then when they couldn't extract enough profit anymore, they were systematically put out of business and pushed out.
I hope this will help crack down on fraudulent product listings as well. There are a lot of bad actors. Youtube and facebook aren't the only major players with moderation issues
She needed to upload her passport to prove who she was. She had to have a credit card with her name on it. Plus she needed to prove she had access to the bank account (needed to have it show her name on the account). As well as the usual social security number being used at sign up.
Way more than I thought, but she had some identity theft issues. So that may have impacted or triggered something.
The penalty is just no longer being able to sell, nothing will happen with the products you have already sold unless a customer complains.
Thanks god I payed with my US CC. Disputed the charge, got an angry email from Amazon, closed my Amazon account and never heard anything again.
- Sent them a video of me opening the 2nd delivery to find playing cards (Literally from opening the Amazon box through to finding the playing cards inside the Samsung SSD box)
- Reported the matter to my local police, who phoned Action Fraud on my behalf. I've got me a crime reference number from Action Fraud.
- Signed 2 affidavits declaring what I did / did not receive
I've phoned them numerous times, and twice now that has involved speaking to someone, being put on hold, and then redirected to my own voice mail.
If I was the only person to have received card and a deck of playing cards I could understand their reaction, however they've removed the item from sale because a number of other people in recent days have received the same things .
When I spoke to my local police they were extremely confused by Amazon's behaviour. I gave Amazon the details of the officer I spoke to and the crime reference number, but that got me nowhere other that the same boilerplate email.
At this stage, I fear I'm going to end up taking Amazon to the small claims court here in the UK just to get my money back.
Phone the card you used and walk them through what happened - they should reverse the payment. They're equally liable with Amazon. Edit: There's no guarantee Amazon will keep your account open after this - then again nor is that guaranteed after a CCJ.
Inform your local trading standards office and offer the same evidence.
I'm not sure there is any case where Amazon should not be liable. You buy something "fulfilled by Amazon" and at no point in the transaction is any sort of third party involved.
IMO, amazon would be better off moderating their platform.
> Our decision, guided by Pennsylvania law, is limited to the question of whether Amazon is a “seller” based on its role in effectuating sales of physical products offered by third-party vendors. We express no view, for example, on whether other companies providing online marketplaces are considered “sellers.”
There were four factors the court used to help determine that Amazon was a “seller” (starting on page 12 of the opinion) and they all went against Amazon.
In its opinion, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made clear that courts later tasked with determining whether an actor is a “seller” should consider whether the following four factors apply:
(1) Whether the actor is the “only member of the marketing chain available to the injured plaintiff for redress”;
(2) Whether “imposition of strict liability upon the [actor] serves as an incentive to safety”;
(3) Whether the actor is “in a better position than the consumer to prevent the circulation of defective products”; and
(4) Whether “[t]he [actor] can distribute the cost of compensating for injuries resulting from defects by charging for it in his business, i.e., by adjustment of the rental terms.”
In Wednesday’s opinion, Circuit Judge Jane Richards Roth, writing for a 2-1 majority of a three-judge panel, said Amazon may be liable in part because its business model “enables third-party vendors to conceal themselves from the customer, leaving customers injured by defective products with no direct recourse to the third-party vendor.”
For context, concealment is bad here because co-mingling means Amazon doesn't even know which vendor shipped the defective product (and as mentioned in past posts on HN, they also blame the wrong vendor sometimes.) The fact that in this case the bad actor up and vanished is just unacceptable.
Case in point: you couldn't buy an Apple product from Amazon without getting a fake, even though the listing said "Apple".
Why it took this long to get Amazon to be liable bewilders me.
That is not true.
From Amazon documentation on commingling:
> Note: Amazon ensures that the initial source of the commingled units can be traced throughout the fulfilment process.
> How does Amazon track my commingled inventory?
> Even though your inventory does not have additional labels, Amazon will assign a virtual trackable label to your units once they have been received. Virtual trackable labels allow Amazon to keep a track of your inventory at all the times.
> Important: Amazon ensures that the exact same units from two sellers, participating in the commingling programme, are always physically segregated. This means that Amazon storage logic does not allow same ASINs of different sellers to be stored in the same bin in our warehouse if they are commingled.
Another thing is if Amazon actually fulfill one buyer's sell through another's supply how is this not a fraud by amazon and how they are not sued out of business even without any fake item issue? This is one thing I never understood.
> What does it mean that they track it but don't ensure that proper items are delivered
It means Amazon can send an item originally supplied by any seller, but Amazon will know who the original seller was.
> and what's the advantage of amazon to commingle.
Reduced fulfillment cost by e.g. having the stock closer to the buyer and reducing the need to ship orders from multiple warehouses (due to orders containing various different products and/or different sellers), as they have more inventory of that product to distribute throughout their warehouses.
> Another thing is if Amazon actually fulfill one buyer's sell through another's supply how is this not a fraud by amazon and how they are not sued out of business even without any fake item issue?
Both sellers have agreed to commingling. When you buy from seller A but seller B has stock closer, sellers A and B will perform a trade (automatically) where A gets one item of B's stock and B gets one item of A's stock. And then the now A's item will be shipped to customer. So at the time of shipping it is A's item, as the customer ordered.
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I’d be happy if they simply stopped commingling inventory.
I guess they could argue the "Platform" angle, but I'm not sure that would hold water for them.
I get so frustrated every time I forget to add the "available in store" filter while searching. The results are useless otherwise.
Would like to see some law firms file class actions against Bezos operation.