- A new investigation by Electrical Safety First, a UK nonprofit, found a selection of "potentially deadly" items sold on Amazon's, eBay's, and Wish's marketplaces.
- The nonprofit said that of the 15 items it tested, 14 failed safety tests under UK standards.
- In the most extreme example, a hairdryer purchased on Wish's site set alight when Electrical Safety First tested what would happen if it restricted its airflow.
- Electrical Safety First said that these examples were a "snapshot of a much wider problem" of a lack of effective policing on these sites.
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Amazon, Wish, and eBay were referred to as the "Wild West of the web" by a UK nonprofit whose new investigation uncovered "potentially deadly" items sold on the sites' marketplaces.
Electrical Safety First said that of the 15 items it tested, 14 failed safety tests under UK standards. These items were purchased from Wish, eBay, and Amazon's third-party marketplace.
In the most extreme example, a hairdryer purchased on Wish's site set alight when Electrical Safety First tested what would happen if it restricted its airflow.
Other items, including laser hair removers and hair straighteners, were also deemed unsafe after tests found that they could give the user an electric shock, the nonprofit said.
Electrical Safety First said these examples were a "snapshot of a much wider problem" of a lack of effective policing on these sites.
Amazon has been strongly criticized over this in the past, especially as its marketplace — the network of third-party sellers that sell and distribute items through the Amazon network — grows rapidly. These sellers accounted for 58% of Amazon's gross merchandise revenue in 2018.
Investigations and reports have outlined numerous issues with faulty and dangerous products being listed on Amazon's site. In August, The Wall Street Journal found that thousands of items, including children's toys and medications for adults, that were not deemed safe by regulators were being sold on the site. In October, a CNBC investigation found that third-party sellers were also shipping expired food items to customers.
In a statement emailed to Business Insider, an Amazon spokesman said that "safety is a top priority at Amazon."
He continued: "We require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from being listed in our stores."
The spokesman confirmed that the products mentioned in the new investigation had been removed from the site.
Wish was not immediately available to comment when contacted by Business Insider.
In a statement emailed to Business Insider, an eBay representative said that it "proactively" enforces its product-safety policy and uses algorithms to stop unsafe products from being listed.
"Our security team continuously patrols our marketplaces and will remove items and take appropriate action against sellers who breach our policies," the representative said, adding that 5 million listings were blocked by its algorithms from October 2018 to October 2019.
"Marketplaces are swiftly becoming the Wild West of the web, with serious regulation now needed to tackle the issue," Electrical Safety First said on Tuesday.
The agency is calling for the UK government to introduce legislation that would require these marketplaces to adequately police their sites for dangerous goods. It also called on the government to beef up enforcement at ports and airports to prevent such items from ever entering the country.