Amazon hit with class-action lawsuit for selling unsafe eclipse glasses

Originally published at:

The elementary school my daughter goes to received a donation on 750 pairs of eclipse glasses from an awesome local lawyer. Of those, around 500 of the pairs were fake, the remaining were real. All ordered from Amazon and shipped to the school. Luckily, some volunteers who were separating out sets for the classes noticed some glasses you could easily see through and others you barely could at all. Don’t know if the bad ones were returned or not.

In the end, students went out in shifts and all got to see some of the eclipse, but it was nearly a disaster. Counterfeiters nearly damaged the eyes of a bunch of elementary school kids.


Amazon is in no way my friend – in fact, I’m starting to think that they’re incarnated evil – but this seems to be misplaced blame. It was a third-party seller, so go after the third party.


Yes Amazon will gladly let them sell on their platform and take their cut while offering only the flimsiest pretenses that they care about the problem.

Make a “show only goods sold by Amazon” switch mandatory and you’ll see how fast they can move with regards to fraudulent marketplace sellers.


Amazon is a primarily a market… or market maker. If you buy something from someone with little or no reputation you take your chances. If you buy from a reputable source on the internet the risk drops. If you are really concerned call your congressman to pass regulation.

1 Like

I rarely buy on Amazon – maybe a couple of times a year – but isn’t it pretty clear is something is being sold by Amazon, vs. only being sold on their platform? If not, then yes, I agree, they have some culpability because their “goodwill” is being used to sell it.


I ordered from Amazon, but I got glasses made by and I think maybe processed by these guys:

So I was pretty confident they were legit.


This is a really good argument for me to pick things up in their new Whole Foods Market locations. Where I live there are all sorts of consumer protection that come with bricks and mortar.


Amazon’s blame, in my view, comes from their practice of “commingled inventory” which encourages different sellers of the same product to allow their stock (held in different Amazon warehouses) to be used for each other’s orders.

On one hand, it allows Amazon to ship your order from a closer location. On the other, it’s perfect for a counterfeiter. Your fake stuff is sold completely on par with someone else’s genuine items - no accountability.

I think Amazon is starting to track the source of inventory more closely, but I’d prefer to see a policy that destroys all proven counterfeit stock with immediate financial loss to the supplier.


Did they check their junk mail folder?

If Amazon did send out the emails, then I think they did due diligence. However, the counterfeiters (and any merchants who knowingly sold the counterfeits) should be found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.


I ordered my eclipse glasses off Amazon, but was really careful to order from a reputable supplier that sold their own branded product. Oddly, I still got a refund from Amazon and a warning not to use the glasses.

Either Amazon was just being extra cautious, or I got fooled despite being careful.



Or rather, markets, I suppose. This problem gets fixed by the market, because after blinding all those kids this counterfeiter is going to have a lot of trouble scoring orders for the next eclipse! They will go out of business, and only companies that make non-blinding glasses will be around for the next one.

The market fixes everything! Only this first bunch of kids needs to get blinded to prevent SO many other kids from getting blinded. It’s amazingly efficient.


Re third party, etc., I used to feel the same way until I noticed weird ‘low-key’ anomalous charges on my phone bills several years ago. Over time ~$420 had been charged bogusly to me by another party that SBC Communications (now merged into AT&T) had allowed to get in on SBC’s billing action. SBC was making a certain percentage of whatever that party had taken in, therefore SBC had an incentive to allow that kind of theft-mischarge to continue unabated AND unreported until they were caught. (Think Amazon’s any different as far as tolerating questionable practices by other parties?) SBC gave me zero pushback when I pointed out their billing ‘error’ (error…yeah… sure) and demanded a full refund; they were caught and knew it.


Yeah mine were made by Celestron, another telescope maker, with 2x mag. That was an awesome experience.


Oh - reminder - if you have a pic or experience to share, please do!

I couldn’t agree more with this.

You can hold Amazon accountable for their goods, but if you go third party, you’re rolling the dice.

I don’t know how this shakes down for liability purposes; but it is a bad thing for Amazon in that it is a particularly high profile example of their (severe) problem with counterfeits and really dodgy 3rd party sellers

My experience with Amazon-as-sold-by-amazon-not-just-on-amazon has been pretty favorable; but if you include the seething morass of 3rd parties they have invited in; Amazon is a lot closer to Fleabay with worse search tools than they would really care to admit.

I’d be utterly unsurprised if this case can’t be made to stick; but Amazon has a real problem with quality control outside of their own sales of things with ISBNs and cloud services. If they are OK with becoming ‘Ameribaba’; then maybe this isn’t an issue; but if they want to avoid becoming an electronic flea market propped up by EC2; it’s more of an issue.


When I asked my opthamologist about those glasses and how to safely look at the eclipse, here’s what he said:

“The question about those ‘certified eclipse’ glasses is, who’s doing the certifying? There isn’t a ‘safe way’ to look at the eclipse and a lot of people are going to have permanent macular damage from watching it. The safest way to look at the eclipse is to watch it on television.”

1 Like

The magic of the free market! You really get how wonderful the last 40 years have been for EVERYONE!

I luv U!

1 Like

It’s pretty clear what’s sold by Amazon at what isn’t, after you know what to look for.

It should be more obvious which part of Amazon is Amazon and which part is basically eBay for the uninitiated, though. If that’s what comes out of this suit, then great.