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E-commerce giants to tackle dangerous product listings

The European Union (EU) has signed an agreement with four major online retailers to remove dangerous products from their sites more quickly.

Under the agreement, AliExpress, Amazon, Ebay and Rakuten-France will respond to notifications on dangerous products from EU authorities within two working days and take action on notices from customers within five working days.

The change tightens up the EU’s e-Commerce Directive, which previously required companies to take down dangerous product listings speedily and efficiently, but did not specify any timing for doing so.

The EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vĕra Jourová, said the agreement is important, as more people are shopping online.

According to Eurostat, online sales represented 20 per cent of the total sales in 2016 in the EU.

“E-commerce has opened up new possibilities for consumers, offering them more choice at lower prices,” she said.

However, more and more of the dangerous products notified in the Rapid Alert System are also being sold online.

“Consumers should be just as safe when they buy online, as when they buy in a shop,” Jourová said.

UK consumer protection charity Electrical Safety First (ESF) recently investigated items sold on Amazon, Ebay and Fruugo between April and May 2018 and found a variety of goods with safety flaws that could spark a first or cause electrical shock.

Counterfeit goods are particularly prone to safety flaws, and one in three UK shoppers, or around 18 million people, have purchased a counterfeit electrical item online, according to the ESF report.

AliExpress, Amazon, Ebay and Rakuten-France have committed to taking the following measures to enhance safety online:

  • React within two working days to authorities’ notices made to the companies’ contact points to remove listings offering unsafe products. Companies should follow-up and inform the authorities on the action taken.
  • Provide a clear way for customers to notify dangerous product listings. Such notices are treated expeditiously and appropriate response is given within five working days.
  • Consult information on recalled/dangerous products available on the EU Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products and also from other sources, such as from enforcement authorities and take appropriate action with respect to the products concerned, when they can be identified.
  • Provide specific single contact points for EU Member State authorities for the notifications on dangerous products and for the facilitation of communication on product safety issues.
  • Take measures aimed at preventing the reappearance of dangerous product listings already removed.
  • Provide information/training to sellers on compliance with EU product safety legislation, require sellers to comply with the law, and provide sellers with the link to the list of EU product safety legislation. 

Jourová called on other online marketplaces to commit to new measures to promptly remove products and inform consumers.

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