business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Amazon.com is facing a government order that could make it responsible for the safety of goods that it sells for outside vendors on its website and ships for them through its logistics network.

"The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is preparing an order that could classify Amazon’s online retail business as a distributor of goods, according to people familiar with the matter. That designation could give Amazon the same safety responsibilities as traditional retailers and potentially open Amazon up to lawsuits and extensive recalls over items sold through its website. Amazon accounts for nearly 40% of all e-commerce in the U.S., according to eMarketer, a research firm. 

"Amazon has fought the distributor designation because of the nature of its online marketplace. The company sells some items from its own inventory, as bricks-and-mortar stores do, but more than 60% of sales on Amazon.com are by outside vendors, known as third-party sellers.

"Amazon has said that it invests in product safety across its site. It also has argued that for those third-party sales it is merely a platform for sellers and buyers to connect, and therefore isn’t responsible for ensuring the quality and safety of products sold by outside vendors on its site."

This is one of those cases where I think the regulators are right - Amazon ought to have the same safety responsibilities as traditional retailers, and ought not be able to use a loophole to avoid them.  "Merely a platform?"  Give me a break.