You could get over £700 from Amazon for buying dodgy goods

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Have you ever bought something from one of Amazon’s thousands of third-party sellers? Almost anyone can sell anything from toothpaste to lawnmowers through the retail giant, but Amazon does not check these products for safety or reliability before they go on sale.

Most of the time, these goods are absolutely fine. But sometimes, they can not only be shoddily made – but downright dangerous. A recent lawsuit against Amazon in the US alleged hairdryers that gave electric shocks were being sold on the platform alongside non-fireproof children’s clothes and faulty carbon monoxide alarms. Other cases have included severe burns from exploding laptop batteries and a woman who lost an eye because of a faulty dog leash.

Up until now, if you did experience property damage or even injuries after using one of these third-party products, you had to claim compensation directly from the seller. This could be almost impossible as sellers can be hard to reach or simply refuse to pay out.

However, shopping on Amazon is about to get a little less risky.

That’s thanks to a new policy introduced by the Seattle-based company which will pay out up to $1,000 (£723) to customers harmed by third-party products sold through the site.

In a blog post today, Amazon said it was increasing the protection offered under its A-to-Z Guarantee.

The company explained: “Now, in the unlikely event a defective product sold through causes property damage or personal injury, Amazon will directly pay customers for claims under $1,000—which account for more than 80% of cases—at no cost to sellers, and may step in to pay claims for higher amounts if the seller is unresponsive or rejects a claim we believe to be valid.”

It added: “We’re excited that these innovations create a more trustworthy shopping and selling experience for customers and sellers in our store… Amazon is going far beyond our legal obligations and what any other marketplace service provider is doing today to protect customers.”

From 1 September, you can make a claim by contacting Amazon’s customer service who will investigate and arrange a payment if the seller does not respond. If it works as seamlessly as the company described, it’s a big step forward for buyers’ confidence in the platform.

However, the guarantee does not apply to an item which is just faulty: it must have actually caused you harm or damaged something you own. But if you’re not happy with the payout you receive, you will still be able to sue for more money.

Amazon told UK shoppers won’t benefit from the compensation scheme just yet – but as the company seeks to avoid more bad press around rogue sellers on its platform, it might only be a matter of time before it’s rolled out to more countries.

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