back to article Chemical burns, explosive fires, they all come free with Amazon power packs

The US Consumer Product Safety Division has issued a recall notice for six types of lithium-ion battery packs sold by AmazonBasics. The batteries were sold by Bezos' bunch between December 2014 and July 2017 for prices ranging from $9 to $40 and range from larger 16,100 mAh power bricks with integrated USB cables down to …

  1. Jan 0

    Fire!

    Could they rebadge them and sell them as "Amazon Fire" perhaps?

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: Fire!

      Could they rebadge them and sell them as "Amazon Fire" perhaps?

      Amazon (a)Blaze

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Fire!

        The chemistry has napalm like qualities... Amazon Fire sticks.

  2. Stuart Halliday

    Made in China no doubt.

    They really don't have the grassroots demand for quality that other countries do.

    You do have to be very demanding in examining their quality, order after order.

    I found when doing repeat orders, they often just ship you an equivalent without consulting which wasn't your idea of being suitable.

    Perhaps it's because they live very far away and know it's to their advantage and not yours.

    Big companies like Apple have to have their own staff in these factories 24/7.

    1. andyp-random-number

      "They really don't have the grassroots demand for quality that other countries do."

      I'm not sure the demand for quality is there at all, anywhere.

      ...oh look, something that costs £50 else where is on sale for 99p, let's buy it, what a bargain... that's the consumers level of demand for quality. And that's why there is cheap tat sold everywhere.

    2. Phil Kingston

      My, that's a big brush with which to tar an entire country.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        I wonder what goes on at...

        a Chinese burns unit?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Go

          Re: I wonder what goes on at...

          >a Chinese burns unit?

          After treatment they twist your arm for payment.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: After treatment they twist your arm for payment...

            Yeah, I bet that's just a second hand rumour... or more...

        2. Sam Therapy
          Coat

          Re: I wonder what goes on at...

          "Wee sleekit cow'rin' timrous beastie..."

          In Mandarin, of course.

          I'll get me (fireproof) coat

    3. Flywheel Silver badge
      FAIL

      Made in China

      I really wish Amazon would stop destroying their brand (and my trust in them) by flooding the site with what I can only describe as cheap Chinese crap.

      It's getting to stage where if you search for some relatively ordinary item you get 2000+ results. Trying to narrow it down to 4-stars + doesn't seem to make much difference, and reviews are littered with comments such as "didn't work at all but at that price it's not worth sending back" and "... wish I'd spent an extra couple of quid to get something decent". If Amazon wants me to take them seriously then they need to up their game!

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Made in China

        I really wish Amazon would stop destroying their brand (and my trust in them) by flooding the site with what I can only describe as cheap Chinese crap.

        Being Amazon I am sure they are calculating the cost of policing the products they hawk against the costs involved. At the moment cost >> policing!

        1. Sam Crawley

          Re: Made in China

          Spot on - the algorithms currently suggest caring about quality is not profitable!

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    The gift of fire. The gift that keeps on giving and made civilization happen... err... they're not supposed to burn? Sorry.....

  4. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Six? Six hundred?

    The counterfeit/substandard white-label products on Amazon get rebranded at least 100 times. There's no way that only six SKUs share this defect.

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Six? Six hundred?

      "There's no way that only six SKUs share this defect."

      Probably not, but it's surprisingly difficult to order a recall for counterfeit goods.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It might also be

    A case of bait and switch from the suppliers. They start off with good quality sample products that get certified even if need be, then once production is in full swing replace add much as possible with cheaper parts regardless of if it's safe or not. Think 13amp fuses that turned out to be just solid lumps of steel painted to look like fuses in bulk orders of kettle leads.

    That was a fun recall.... though good record keeping is your friend in this regards.

  6. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Flame

    hang on....

    Isn't warmth considered one of the fundamental basics in Maslow's hierarchy of needs?

    Who said Amazon doesn't know how to deliver above and beyond?

    Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

    - T. Pratchett

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The manufacturer should be held responsible

    If the batteries are defective in design then the mfg. should be held accountable. Lawsuits will likely prevail in court.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: The manufacturer should be held responsible

      Sure. You sue someone in China and tell me how that works out for ya...

  8. Mystic Megabyte
    FAIL

    Zap!

    After your house has burnt down you'll need a camping light. Dialling 911 as you charge your phone is not advisable! (Mains connected directly to USB, see video at 7:49)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwqFkelUs_g

    1. handleoclast

      Re: Zap!

      Mains connected directly to USB, see video at 7:49

      Just from those words, I guessed who made that video, and I was right. Big Clive has made videos about other, deadly, variants on this theme here and here.

      Clive has made many videos about dodgy Chinese stuff bought from eBay. Like this potentially deadly USB charger (and accompanying funny song).

      John Ward occasionally examines products from China. Such as this multiway mains extension which fails to meet safety standards in many, many different ways (proved by some entertaining destructive tests).

      I get the impression from those videos, and others, that the big problem is that there are a lot of manufacturers who enter the field of electrical/electronic items without any domain knowledge. Being startups, they hire new graduates (or even hobbyists) on the cheap to do the design, who make the kinds of errors that those with a few years' experience at an established, decent manufacturer would not make. The sort of stupid things I'd have done back before I went to university. The sort of slightly less-stupid things I'd have done after I graduated but before I had some experience under my belt. Essentially Dunning-Kruger manufacturing. And that's before they decide to cut corners on what was already a shitty design in order to make a bigger profit.

  9. Richard Parkin

    Very disappointing

    I had one of the 10000mAh AmazonBasics powerbanks and it was far and away the best designed and most convenient of the several batteries I own, obviously mine did not burst into flames before I binned it. It was so good that I have been trying unsuccessfully to buy a couple more but have been forced to buy other makes. I suppose it falls into the “don’t judge a book by its cover” category but it’s surprising nonetheless that so much thought had gone into the operation but apparently so little into the basic function :-(

  10. Duffy Moon

    Eliminate the need

    I have found that I can get by without these devices, by (sensibly) owning a phone with a replaceable battery. What a novel innovation!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eliminate the need

      And, I assume based on your level of sense, you carry around several of these fully charged spare batteries at all times?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eliminate the need

        Plus, unlike a removable battery...with a power bank you don't have to turn the phone off to recharge it...

        1. Duffy Moon

          Re: Eliminate the need

          Oh what wits these ACs are.

          "Plus, unlike a removable battery...with a power bank you don't have to turn the phone off to recharge it..."

          I have the Samsung spare battery kit - a spare battery plus the charger. So no, I do have to turn the phone off, but only for the 30 seconds it takes to change the battery.

          Next 'witty' comment please.

          "And, I assume based on your level of sense, you carry around several of these fully charged spare batteries at all times?"

          I have two spares, but only ever need to carry one with me. The other is in the charger.

          Any other 'witty' comments?

      2. Nolveys
        Headmaster

        Re: Eliminate the need

        And, I assume based on your level of sense, you carry around several of these fully charged spare batteries at all times?

        It makes more sense to carry one spare that constantly charges off a mortar board with a solar panel duct-taped to the top. From experience I can say that the panel should be less than 80cm across.

  11. BugabooSue

    Acid?

    You know lithium is an alkali, right?

    Not an acid...

    1. Nevermind

      Re: Acid?

      Hydrofluoric Acid I think in this case, the electrolyte is the issue not the metal per se.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Guoguang (Guano ?) Electric Company, hilarious, so it's not THE GEC COMPANY then but some Chinese name knock-off

    1. Nevermind
      Happy

      CE marked too

      Where the CE badge just means "Chinese Export"

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: CE marked too

        Where the CE badge just means "Chinese Export" Caveat Emptor.

        FTFY

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Go

          Re: CE marked too

          Where the CE badge just means "Chinese Export" Caveat Emptor. Combustable Electronics

          FTFY

  13. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    "...or from short circuits within the battery..."

    Thank you for mentioning this point about internal shorts within the cells. Too many fail to consider this internal failure mode (internal to the 18650 or pouch cell), as they add on yet more protection for external shorts and such. Li-ion safety must include strict QA at the cell factory.

    Compliments to the chef.

    1. 404

      Re: "...or from short circuits within the battery..."

      Which is why when vaping, you only buy Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, or LG batteries. Those four are the only manufacturers of 18650 batteries in existence . Everything else is a rewrap and they can give any specs they feel like printing. Not safe. Not made in China either.

  14. wallyhall

    "Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am writing to inform you of a fire that has broken out at ..."

    No, too formal.

    --Moss

  15. Davegoody

    Be careful out there...... It's the secondary damage that can get you.....

    I had an identical one, not Amazon badged, that spontaneously combusted, when left (undisturbed) in my car.

    Locked my car, walked away, walked back 20 minutes later to a totally burned-out wreck. Amazingly my insurance paid-out, with no hassles, but it could have been SO much worse. Mine was of identical design to the Amazon ones, purchased from a tatty phone shop between St Pancras and St Pauls on (what was) my daily commute. £20 or so, and caused £8000 worth of damage, writing-off my car. No way of chasing the store, the manufacturer in my case, at least if it was an Amazon product they would do whatever they could (I would hope) to assist with the damage and terrible inconvenience !

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: Be careful out there...... It's the secondary damage that can get you.....

      that spontaneously combusted, when left (undisturbed) in my car.

      I'm sorry to hear about that.

      However, what would one think if one of these was inside a suitcase in an airplane cruising at 31k feet over the Atlantic.

      Makes one wonder how to enforce the controversial electronics ban.

      1. handleoclast

        Re: Be careful out there...... It's the secondary damage that can get you.....

        Makes one wonder how to enforce the controversial electronics ban.

        Insist on the right for Customs to hoover all the information off the device. Travellers will then stick data on an SD card and buy or hire a cheap device upon arrival rather than take their device with them.

        There's method to their madness...

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