business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Financial Times reports that Amazon went before the Texas Supreme Court to maintain that it isn't"realistic" to expect it to vet all the products sold on its platform, and should not be responsible if items sold on the site hurt the people who buy them.

According to FT, "The court will determine whether Amazon should be considered liable after a 19-month-old child was left severely injured when she ingested a lithium battery from a remote control sold by a Chinese seller on the platform, which the plaintiffs argued failed to meet industry safety standards. In this case and others, Amazon has argued it is a middleman between the millions of third-party sellers on its site and the consumers who buy products."

The story suggests that Amazon's position seems to wearing thin lately:  "Recent disputes that were ruled in the consumer’s favour have involved a woman blinded in one eye by a faulty dog leash, and a woman who suffered third-degree burns because of a defective laptop battery. The latest case comes as the number of third-party sellers on Amazon has swelled dramatically in recent years, attracting a growing number of lawsuits over safety and culpability."

KC's View:

Not a lawyer, so my ability to make a legal judgment about responsibility in such cases is severely limited.

But I've long believed - and have stated here - that retailers ought to be responsible for the things they sell.

Amazon's argument seems to be that it is too vast with too many vendors and third-party marketers to be able to held responsible.  But that doesn't seem to be entirely fair … if you are going to tout yourself as the "everything store," it follows that you have to embrace the positives and negatives of that position.  You can't just pick and choose.  (Well, you can try…)

In the end, I'd argue, it actually is good business - and essentially customer-centric - for Amazon is embrace these responsibilities, despite the cost.  It inspires confidence.  Playing pass-the-buck does not.