When it comes to innocuous things like USB cables, phone chargers, and surge protectors, the general tendency is to go cheap. And if it has a known brand name, like Amazon, attached, that’s even better. Or maybe not: one report suggests dozens of AmazonBasic products are fire hazards that can put your home at risk.
CNN took a long hard look at AmazonBasic product reviews, and it found more than 1,700 reviews across 70 items that mentioned fire, explosions, melting, or other safety risks. In many cases, customers didn’t do anything wrong, like when a Microwave caught fire when an eight-year-old tried to heat macaroni and cheese.
In an even more harrowing story, a man ended up in the hospital with burns after an AmazonBasics USB cable caught fire while draped across a chair. The stories continue from there, and many include damage to homes and belongings.
Worse yet, while some of these items aren’t for sale anymore, CNN found plenty of instances where you can still buy products despite reports of hazards.
Within the more than 1,500 reviews, many consumers explicitly called out items as potentially dangerous — using terms such as “hazard” or “fire” or saying the product should be recalled. Around 30 items with three or more reviews like this remain for sale on Amazon.com today. At least 11 other products that fit this criteria were no longer for sale at the time of publication. Some became unavailable after CNN began its reporting, and at least four product pages were removed from the retailer’s site entirely — leaving behind dead URLs known by employees as “dog pages.” Amazon confirmed that at least eight of these products had been under investigation, but said the company determined they all met its safety standards.
According to CNN, Amazon has only ever issued official recalls for two AmazonBasics products. Beyond those recalls, Amazon hasn’t publically acknowledge any hazards in its products. When CNN brought its investigation results to Amazon, the company confirmed that eight of the products CNN mentioned were investigated, but ultimately met its safety standards.
You can still buy many of the products CNN flagged and reported to Amazon, so before you hit the buy button on an “Amazon’s Choice” item, it might be worth reading some reviews. You can see CNN’s full (and lengthy) report at its site.