Will Amazon classify your product hazardous?

We’ve been contacted by a Tom of Starkey Headsets who is in a bit of a dilemma. It’s also something that could affect vast numbers of sellers on Amazon that use FBA.

Tom told us that he was looking through the company’s products on Amazon wondering why one particular product had had no sales for a while. Checking their Amazon account he discovered that the product, a set of headphones, was inactive but he didn’t know why. This is what Tom had to say after querying if the product really was inactive:

BatteriesA phone call to seller support confirmed that this was the case. The reason given was that this item has been deemed as hazardous. No other information was given apart from the agents’s opinion that it maybe to do with the batteries. At no point were we informed by Amazon that this listing has been made inactive. Without regularly checking all listings how would we know? We have no idea how long this listing has been inactive and no way of gauging how many orders have been lost.

According to Amazon the resolution to this problem is to get a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) from the manufacturer. This can take a long time and if we need to get this for all our products we could be disabled as a company as our stock is in Amazon warehouses. It cannot be sent to a customer and it cannot be returned to us. It is effectively in quarantine.

There are two problems with this process

1. Amazon failed to inform us of this problem. We had to find out for ourselves.
2. These products are CE approved. Is that not good enough?

To make this situation worse we have multi-channel fulfilment orders for this product that we thought had been sent. Again, there was no notification from Amazon that these orders could not be fulfilled. In fact, we can still add a multi-channel fulfilment order for this product today, even though it will not be dispatched!

To summarise

– Why are these products deemed to be hazardous?
– Why has amazon not informed us?
– Why can we still request multi-channel fulfilment orders for hazardous ASIN’s?
– We have several customers that have not received orders.
– We have to buy more stock in to cover the stock that is held in Amazon.

Speaking to Tom we’re still not certain what the issue is. Yes the product (a blister pack) contained batteries, but (at least so far as Royal Mail are concerned) alkaline, NiMH and NiCd batteries are safe to ship to both UK and International destinations.

There are a ton of products on Amazon, eBay and retailers own websites where the packages contain batteries (sometimes inside the device and at other times in the packaging). If Amazon are going to classify these products as hazardous that’s going to be a problem. In truth we don’t even know for certain that the reason the product has been classified as hazardous is because it contains batteries.

We also don’t know if Amazon have classified the product as hazardous because it they export from FBA outside the UK or if it’s a particular courier Amazon uses that won’t ship the product. One might ask the question as to how Amazon can classify a product as to be so hazardous that it can’t be returned to the retailer, but not too hazardous to sit in their warehouse.

Currently Tom is left with stock which Amazon won’t sell, won’t return and sooner or later will start to incur long tern storage fees. If you’ve been in this situation we’d love to hear more and if you’ve reached a resolution with Amazon.