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OK, I know this isn't a DIY question, but had to ask it and to point out the horrible things that get sold. Who in their right mind would use this? It completely bypasses all safety mechanisms. Could backfeed into the power grid, endangering lineman. Could severely shock or electrocute the user. It's so short that it could encourage generator usage in an enclosed space, like an attached garage.

Again, I know this isn't a DYI question and that probably everybody here at SE knows this is a horrible product, I only bring it up so that if you know of anybody that has this piece of dangerous junk, make sure they get rid of it asap. I couldn't believe it when I saw this.

Moderators, Please leave this up for a bit anyway. Then we can close it or delete it.

pic of terrible extension cord

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    searched amazon, it's gone, but avail on ebay and walmart. they should be sued for carrying this. Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 20:11
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    "buyer beware" applies. Responsibility is the neglected twin of freedom. The global marketplace provides vast freedoms of what you can do, so it's ever more important to consider what you should do.
    – dandavis
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 20:27
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    @dandavis As a libertarian, I mostly agree with you in principle. But it takes a lot of work to vet products whether they are safe or not. Would you still support asbestos usage? How about restaurant inspections? Would you like to have to research a restaurant for ratings about it's food handling practices before you ate there? And who knows if those ratings were real or posted by bots? I agree with limited and accountable gov't, but there are some appropriate roles protecting public safety. Hate to say it but frankly, protecting idiots from themselves. Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 1:41
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    These monstrosities are generally used as the Absolutely Wrong Way to connect a backup generator to a circuit, creating the risk of electrocuting one of the linemen trying to repair your power lines. So they do have a reason for existing and being purchased; it's just a bad one.
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 5:53
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    Unfortunately, truly superior idiots are perfectly capable of making these themselves. Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 16:29

2 Answers 2

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Obviously, it's possible that a person sitting in an unfriendly nation, can go onto eBay (USA) and add product listings. And then when they get sales, they can ship the items using the USPS ePacket service from that unfriendly nation. That's the transaction.

In an ideal world, US Customs confiscates it since it prima facie violates our consumer protection laws. However given their budget and priorities, that does not happen. So the items are delivered to the consumer.

But the customer knows perfectly well that eBay is a "flea market", that products should be viewed with skepticism, that this is a 3rd party seller and it's coming ePacket from one overseas country famous for total junk. So this customer is Eyes Wide Open, and thus shares fully in the culpability.

But now, let's add a couple of wrinkles.

Make it a site famous for selling its own quality stock - the site is the seller. And very quietly, this site opens up its storefront to the same 3rd parties from eBay - but the listings look identical - the only difference is one single word in the smallest text on the page.

But still, the shipping time is prominently displayed. Surely the buyer will notice 3-week ePacket shipping from overseas, right?

Except this famous site has not only opened their site, but also their warehousing infrastructure to any 3rd party user for any purpose, even purposes unrelated to sales on the site. Which means those 3rd party sellers can ship illegal junk by the container load to those warehouses, and they ship from inside the United States or Canada.

But Customs can stop a whole container, right? Isn't it blatantly violating the law to warehouse this illegal stuff inside the USA? Nope. Since that warehouse might ship items to Central America or the Caribbean, "Hey, maybe the item is legal there! US Customs doesn't have the right to enforce Costa Rica law!" This makes the warehouse functionally a free trade zone.

On the other hand, this famous site runs their own shipping infrastructure, famously known as "Prime Shipping". Surely if the item states "Ships with Prime", that means it is the company's own legit product, right?

Nope. That shipping is open to 3rd parties also. So those 3rd party items can also ship with prime. The only way to know the difference is that one word in small print on the page.

Can you find it?

enter image description here

Pretend it says "Ships with Prime". I just wasn't logged in, so it didn't know I had Prime.

So what does this mean?

The consumer or a trade agency tries to take someone to task for this illegal activity.

  • The consumer said "I am blameless, I bought it on the world's most popular website, and since they sold AND warehoused AND shipped the item On Their Own Trucks, I had no reason to believe the item was illicit."
  • The site says "We are not the seller. We are only a marketplace connecting sellers to buyers." (same thing eBay says).
  • The site says "We're only a drop-shipping warehouser housing items owned by 3rd parties. We are not responsible for the items."
  • The site says "We are only a shipping company, you wouldn't go after FedEx or UPS for the contents of the boxes they ship!"
  • The site is arguing that the mistake was the 3rd party seller's, who erred by not un-clicking a checkbox on the interface, which would disable USA sales for that particular item. "A trivial data-entry oversight".
  • The seller is beyond the reach of enforcement.
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    I think this post got deleted, but not sure. I just thought it was important enough to stretch SE's strict rules. Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 21:03
  • And another part of the problem, I suspect, is that given just how overloaded the ports are that with no inspection at all there are delays (days, even weeks) simply moving entire containers from ship to truck & train, I would expect that Customers will concentrate on items of a more easily detectable and more blatantly dangerous nature. Illegal drugs contain specific chemicals found no place else. Suicide cords have the exact same plastic and metal components as regular extension cords - the only difference is assembly. Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 21:18
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    @manassehkatz yeah if I were king I'd un-defund Customs, FTC and CPSC to screen for all this stuff. However, that would instantly block up the ports and cause a recession. Also a certain country would consider it an act of war. Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 21:42
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica The "tiny wording" you refer to is the "Sold by" line, and it's usually the first thing I check. I had thought that most regular users of A knew this and at least it's transparent. Users can make it work if they educate themselves.
    – Armand
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 0:37
  • great explanation of the problem. luckily, in the event of fire/injury, insurance companies would have to prove the customer knew better, in most states at least...
    – dandavis
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 9:17
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How it can be sold: Amazon (and other vendors) sliding around laws pertaining to safety of imports by directly connecting buyers who become the importers to sellers with no ethics whatever. Helps if they buy themselves some politicians to make the laws that way (and they did.)

Note that this makes the person who bought the hazardous item the importer, and responsible if it causes anyone else harm or damages. The item is unlisted, thus, it violates code (and your insurance terms, normally.)

Do. Not. Buy. Electrical. Stuff. From. Amazon, Aliexpress, or any other platform that "blends" stuff they may actually sell with directly imported unlisted, unsafe crap. Aliexpress is all direct import, while others confuse things more.

Of course, in this specific case, the old fashioned way is also common among fools - buy two listed plugs and some listed cord and assemble it yourself. There's a reason it's known as a suicide cord.

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  • i feel a blanket ban is overly broad, eg. wouldn't worry about a TV from amazon, and just about everyone famous selling electronics has "market" items these days (walmart, best buy, staples, newegg, just to name a few), so following such advice verbatim would severely limit your options.
    – dandavis
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 9:15

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