When it comes to harmless things like USB cables, phone chargers, and surge protectors, the general trend is to go cheap. And if it’s associated with a well-known brand name, like Amazon, even better. Or maybe not: one report suggests dozens of AmazonBasic products are fire hazards it can put your home at risk.
CNN has extensively examined reviews of AmazonBasic products and found over 1,700 reviews of 70 articles that mentioned fire, explosion, melting, or other safety hazards. In many cases, customers haven’t done anything wrong, like when a microwave caught fire when an eight-year-old tried to heat macaroni and cheese.
In an even more heart-wrenching story, a man was left in hospital with burns after an AmazonBasics USB cable caught fire while draped over a chair. The stories continue from there, and many include damage to homes and property.
Worse yet, while some of these items are no longer on sale, CNN has found numerous instances where you can still buy products despite the reports of dangers.
Among the more than 1,500 reviews, many consumers have explicitly labeled the items as potentially hazardous – using terms like “danger” or “fire” or saying the product should be recalled. About 30 items with three or more reviews like this remain for sale on Amazon.com today. At least 11 other products that met these criteria were no longer on sale at the time of publication. Some became unavailable after CNN began reporting, and at least four product pages were removed from the retailer’s site entirely, leaving behind dead URLs that employees call “dog pages.” Amazon has confirmed that at least eight of those products have been investigated, but said the company has determined that they all meet its safety standards.
According to CNN, Amazon has only ever issued official recalls for two AmazonBasics products. Beyond these recalls, Amazon has publicly acknowledged no danger in its products. When CNN released the results of its investigation to Amazon, the company confirmed that eight of the products CNN mentioned had been investigated, but ultimately met its safety standards.
There are many CNN-reported and Amazon-reported products that you can still buy, so before you hit the buy button on an “Amazon’s Choice” item, it might be worth reading a few reviews. You can see CNN’s full (and long) report on his site.