Product safety: still a challenge for marketplaces
This article was originally published by Stéphanie Marius.
The General Directorate for Competition, Consumption and Fraud Control discovered 32% of non-compliant and dangerous products sold online, during its survey of ten marketplaces.
A significant proportion of products sold on marketplaces in France do not comply with regulations and present risks for the safety of users, according to the annual survey conducted by the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control.
Since 2018, the organization has been carrying out "mystery shopping" control actions, focusing this year on 129 non-food items. The 2020 survey, just revealed, focuses on cosmetics with a lightening purpose, toys, childcare accessories, electrical accessories (travel adapters), smoke detectors and costume jewelry sold on Aliexpress, Amazon, Cdiscount, eBay, Fnac.com, Joom, Rakuten, Rueducommerce, Vova and Wish. 32% of the tested products were found to be non-compliant and dangerous and 28% non-compliant although safe.
More critically, over the past three years, 63% of the items analysed were found to be non-compliant, and 28% unsafe, a higher score than in other distribution channels. Alain Griset, Minister for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, said in reaction to these results: "The results of the DGCCRF study reinforce the need to ensure fair treatment between the various existing forms of trade. It is therefore completely unacceptable that one can still find products on online marketplaces that do not comply with what we require in physical commerce. These situations are unacceptable and must be dealt with forcefully. This will be one of the issues of the French Presidency of the European Union."
Traceability and product composition are a problem
The tests were carried out by the Joint Laboratory Service (JLS). Prohibited substances were found in cosmetic creams, small detachable parts that could be swallowed by young children in toys and childcare articles, as well as the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, fire sensitivity or ineffectiveness in smoke detectors and the presence of cadmium, nickel and lead in jewellery. In terms of traceability, 20% of the products were identified as coming from Asia, while it was impossible to determine the origin of 40% of the items.
However, six of the ten marketplaces studied (including AliExpress, Rakuten, Amazon and eBay) have voluntarily committed to the European Commission to respect 12 principles to improve the safety of items sold through them and facilitate product recalls. Among their commitments is the training of third-party sellers so that they can comply with European regulations on product safety. The responsiveness of the marketplaces contacted by the DGCCRF was judged "globally satisfactory" by the organization, with the exception of one player who did not respond to requests and a second who required a reminder for two ads. To check the safety of their products, sellers can refer to the list of recalls of dangerous items published by the DGCCRF and to the European Safety Gate database.
Following these results, the DGCCRF indicates that "if necessary, strong measures will be taken against operators who are not diligent in protecting consumers in this area". Consumers are involved in the monitoring of items sold online via the SignalConso platform. Cédric O, Secretary of State for Digital Transition and Electronic Communications, concluded: "Marketplaces are an opportunity for many small businesses to sell their products online. Unfortunately, some marketplaces are overrun with products that do not meet European standards and the controls carried out by the DGCCRF are therefore essential to protect consumers. Faced with sometimes uncooperative platforms, we will not hesitate to use the full range of sanctions available, including those recently created by the DDADUE law."