Amazon will start charging third-party sellers penalty fees for packages that don’t comply with its safety requirements.
An email obtained by CNBC revealed that the eCommerce giant expects third-party sellers to meet the company’s package safety standards when sending inventory to be stored and shipped by Amazon in order to comply with federal regulations.
The fees can potentially reduce the number of hazardous materials safety violations in its shipments, which has been on the rise since 2009, according to the U.S. Office of Hazardous Materials Safety. In 2009, Amazon only had two incident reports, compared to 32 incident reports in 2016 and 42 this year.
The documents show that some unmarked packages have leaked hazardous materials like gasoline and lye, and others have contained flammable aerosols. One case in March, for example, caused some warehouse workers “hand, arm and skin irritation” after a hazardous spill from a package containing Red Crown High Test Lye. And just last week, several workers in an Amazon warehouse in New Jersey were reportedly exposed to bear repellent after its container was punctured.
“This means new fees for Amazon sellers that are not very careful about following Amazon’s guidelines,” said Paul Dworianyn, founder of Awesome Dynamic Tech Solutions. “Amazon is taking a more proactive and transparent approach to show sellers where they may be falling short.”
Amazon will charge the fee under what it calls “unplanned services,” making sure all packages meet safety standards in six specific areas: shipping box overweight, shipping box oversized, electrical products hazard, sharp products hazard, spilled products hazard and unacceptable pallet condition. Amazon said it would run a trial period starting November 29 and that it would notify sellers at least one month before it actually starts charging the fees.
Amazon already charges unplanned service fees on mistakes like missing barcode labels or bubble wrap requirements.