Dear Amazon,

You are the biggest e-commerce company in the world and it's not even close. Well, you're not even an e-commerce company. You have your hands in AWS 🤑, advertising, Prime Video, and AI. It really should not be hard for you to keep your storefront safe. Every couple of weeks, I have to chat or call with your shitty customer service team to do the same exact thing.

Earlier today, I got this email:

screenshot of email from amazon, "Hello,  I am really sorry for the inconvenience caused to you.  If you need more help, visit our Contact Us page (https://www.amazon.com/contact-us).  Thank you for shopping at Amazon  We'd appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.  Best regards,  Amazon.com"

Here's the story.

For the last 6 months or so, I have repeatedly called or texted every couple weeks to report the same exact product. It's called a suicide cord, and it looks like this:

a short and yellow extension cord with a male plug on both ends

For those unaware, this may look just like a reverse extension cord, which it sort of is, but if you plug it into the wall, the other end has 120V of electricity ready to injure or kill a person.

You may wonder what kind of situation would cause a person to even want such a product, and there's two. The first group of people are people on Christmas who lit their tree upside down, i.e. with the plug at the stop and the socket on the bottom. All they want is something that can power their Christmas lights from the other end, and I can forgive them for that. The only people they are placing in danger are themselves.

The second group is far more dangerous, reckless, irresponsible, and stupid. The people that make up this group are people who are smart enough to start a generator, but too stupid to read the manual. If the power goes out, they grab their portable generator and start it.

a red honda-branded generator with an standard household power socket, as well as an L6-30R socket.

The problem starts with hooking it up to their house. People smarter than a bag of rocks will have their home fitted with automatic transfer switches and dedicated generator hookups that comply with electrical regulations. Unfortunately, not everyone does that. In theory, you could take a double-ended extension cord and plug one end into a household outlet, and another end into the generator. Great, all their lights and appliances have power now (assuming that the load does not exceed the limit of the generator or that outlet's circuit breaker).

You know what else also has power? The power line outside their house. Linemen working to fix the power outage would expect that during a power outage, there is no power in the lines, but unfortunately using a suicide cord can result in power being fed backwards into the grid, thus shocking or even electrocuting linemen attempting to restore power.

Morons.

Now this is not a new problem by any means. Generators have existed for well over a hundred years, and the suicide cord isn't a new invention by any means. Hardware stores have solved this problem a long time ago by doing a crazy thing called "hiring human beings who know not to sell these".

paper hung in an ace hardware store, it reads "Male To Male Cord, At this time of year, there are often requests for an electrical cord with two male ends. Using a cord like this is a very dangerous in starting fires and or electrocuting someone. THESE ARE NOT MADE. THEY SHOULD NEVER BE MADE. WE WILL NOT MAKE ONE. WE WILL NOT AID OR ABET THE MAKING OF ONE."
image credit - https://imgur.com/bSo5KSu

Amazon, however, does not have humans screen products before listing them. I think you can see where this is going.

Every couple of weeks I call or chat to report the latest listing of a suicide cord. If it gets taken down, it's back up a week later from another seller. Today I called and got told I would be called back in 5-10 minutes. What actually happened was I got this email:

screenshot of email from amazon, "Hello,  I am really sorry for the inconvenience caused to you.  If you need more help, visit our Contact Us page (https://www.amazon.com/contact-us).  Thank you for shopping at Amazon  We'd appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.  Best regards,  Amazon.com"

I had to call again, which took another 30 minutes out of my day. Eventually, though, I was told that it would be taken down. It's still up. 😐

I really don't understand how Amazon can ignore this issue. They all use the SAME IMAGES. Why don't they flag listings with those images for human review?? It cannot possibly be that hard. In fact, this has been an issue for so long that the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) issued a warning about this exact product TWO YEARS AGO.

They even have a picture of it!

screenshot of USCPSC press release, titled "CPSC Warns Consumers to Immediately Stop Using Male-to-Male Extension Cords Sold on Amazon.com Due to Electrocution, Fire, and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Hazards", Release Date: September 15, 2022, contents: "Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers to immediately stop using and discard male-to-male extension cords sold on Amazon.com due to shock, electrocution, fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning hazards."

It cannot possibly be that hard to filter this out.

Do better, Amazon. I will keep contacting support until this product is gone.


Update 2024/5/9 - the product is STILL THERE. I called Amazon and the rep told me that they "escalated it". We'll see how it goes.

Thank you Default. Or Danny.

screenshot of email from Amazon, where it opens with "this is danny", and ends with "best regards, default"

The blog post was originally published 2024/4/6. Ugh.

Oh and apparently over 100 of these get bought a month.

screenshot of amazon product page, orange arrow points to "100+ bought in past month"

Update 2024/6/1

So the Usoway one is gone... but I found another 😐

screenshot of amazon list, with 2 suicide cords in it. one is unavailable.

I called Amazon. They said it would be processed in 7-10 business days.

We'll see about that.


Update 2024/6/11

It wasn't taken down AND I found another one.

amazon product page for suicide cord

I called and they said that "no escalation occurred", at which point I asked that the issue be escalated, and I asked that this second listing also be included in the report. This agent noted that they would not give me a timeline or say that it would be removed at all, unlike the previous agent, despite me letting them know about the USCPSC warning about it. Insane.

They said that I would get a call back in 3-5 business days to let me know when they get an update on the internal ticket.

I have been calling for MONTHS. It cannot possibly be that hard to stop this thing from getting listed.

Anyway...

screenshot of SaferProducts.gov report website

We'll see if that does anything.


Welp, i just got done publishing the last edit to this post, and I found ANOTHER ONE.

screenshot of Amazon product page, for suicide cord

Ugh. Calling again.

As I'm ON THE PHONE with them, I find ANOTHER.

screenshot of product listing of suicide cord

I added them all to the list.

screenshot of amazon shopping list called "dangerous goods". Has 5 items, 4 which are available for purchase. All are suicide cords.

Currently writing this on hold with Amazon... found another.

screenshot of amazon product page for suicide cord

The multipack versions of this one mean that we get 3 awful product listings for the price of one!

screenshot of amazon shopping list called "dangerous goods", with 8 suicide cords, 7 available for purchase.

This marks the first hour today that I have spent on the phone with Amazon.

Still on call with them, found a blue model, with 3 options, meaning we get ANOTHER 3 SKUs to add to the list.

screenshot of amazon product page, for suicide cord, this one is blue

That makes 10 total, with 9 purchasable right now

screenshot of amazon shopping list titled "dangerous goods", with 10 suicide cords and 9 available for purchase

Apologies, dear reader, for the huge long images.

I'm finding these things faster than this poor Amazon rep can report them 😭

Well, the rep said 2-3 business days for someone to review the report.
Project Farm voice - "we're gonna test that!"

Welp, I'm finally off the second call of the day. Total time spent on the phone with Amazon today: 1h20m.


Update 2024/6/14:

So of the 9 recently reported, 7 have been removed so far. That's a start. We'll see if the rest disappear soon.

screenshot of amazon product list, 8/10 unavailable, 2/10 suicide cords available.

...aaaaaaand I found 13 more. Good Lord.

screenshot of amazon product list, 8/23 unavailable, 15/23 suicide cords available.

It feels like nobody at Amazon cares about this. I'll call them AGAIN today.


Got on the phone and reported the 13, and while on the phone I found 3 more, so I reported 16 SKUs.

The agent on this one was very helpful, polite, and articulate. He said that he filed a mega-ticket including the USCPSC link, and noted that the link would be very helpful to the team.

Time on call: 26m