Customers Report Cheap ‘AmazonBasics’ Products Are Catching Fire And Blowing Up

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Written by Dana Sanchez
AmazonBasics
Customer reviews report that cheap AmazonBasics products sold under the e-commerce giant’s private labels are catching fire and blowing up. Demonstrators hold images of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos during a Halloween-themed protest at Amazon headquarters over the company’s facial recognition system, “Rekognition,” Oct. 31, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Customers have reported more than 70 products exploding, catching fire, smoking, melting, causing electrical malfunctions or posing risks from the AmazonBasics private-label lines, according to a CNN investigation.

One of Amazon’s private-label lines, AmazonBasics offers budget-friendly products including consumer electronics, household appliances, home goods and office accessories.

Since 2016, at least 1,500 reviews have described incendiary experiences that customers had, according to an analysis of AmazonBasics electronics and appliances listed on its website.

If a non-Amazon product line becomes too successful, Amazon is likely to create their own private label version of the item, eventually hampering that success, according to performance-marketing agency Tinuiti.

However, many AmazonBasics products that have been reported as fire hazards are still for sale on Amazon, CNN reported.

These are some of the stories that customers shared in product reviews: One man saw fire coming out of an AmazonBasics surge protector while a single phone charger was plugged into it as his baby slept in a nearby room. Another man was hospitalized after his chair caught fire while he slept, apparently due to a melted USB cord. And an AmazonBasics microwave caught fire when an 8-year-old heated up a macaroni-and-cheese cup.

AmazonBasics says it has more than 5,000 products. The idea is to identify everyday items that Amazon can make cheaper than existing name brands. Costco and Target do it as well.

“The sheer volume of purchase data available to Amazon gives them a unique advantage when it comes to anticipating demand,” Tinuiti reported. “By analyzing what customers search for, click on, and purchase, they’re able to add new products to the AmazonBasics brand quickly and inexpensively.”

However, consumers have raised serious safety concerns about AmazonBasics items in complaints to government regulators and in reviews posted on Amazon’s own website. 

Fires caused by consumer electronics are not unique to Amazon brands. “User error can also be a factor, as can faulty or aging wiring within a home or a defective device being used in conjunction with the product,” CNN reported. “But when well-made and used properly by consumers, electronics like those sold under the AmazonBasics name should rarely pose dangers,” electrical engineers told CNN.

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Amazon has long faced criticism for anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior. The e-commerce company has been on an unstoppable winning streak for years, made stronger by the covid-19 pandemic, but government regulators smell blood, Investor Place reported.

“While the pandemic has accelerated Amazon’s market share gains, it has also amplified criticism that the company is too powerful,” investor Ian Bezek wrote for Investor Place.

“Amazon’s latest move — turning failing malls into distribution centers — is drawing particular ire. With Amazon having crushed many local towns and cities’ tax bases, look for politicians to force Amazon to pay up for its past anti-competitive behavior.”