When hoverboards broke onto the scene in the middle of 2015, retailers just about got whiplash rushing to get into the craze that had people dropping upwards of $1,500 on the flavor-of-the-week gadgets. However, now that it’s clear just how many hoverboards were made with dangerously unsafe materials, some merchants have begun plans to get as many as they can off the market.
That’s Amazon’s plan, as announced by Elliot Kaye, chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In a statement published Wednesday (Jan. 20), Kaye outlined the CPSC’s various concerns about the quality of construction and user safety in the average hoverboard, citing not only issues with explosively discharging batteries but also with nonstandard control problems across brands that could inflict serious damage on inexperienced users.
As a result of these issues, Kaye explained, Amazon has become the first major retailer to voluntarily offer refunds on hoverboard purchases — no questions asked.
“For consumers who purchased a hoverboard from Amazon, they can return the product right now for a full refund,” Kaye said in the statement. “I want to commend Amazon for voluntarily stepping up, providing a free remedy and putting customer safety first.”
Amazon did not offer any kind of statement, so it’s not yet known what, if any, hoverboard brands will be eligible under the buy-back program. However, the retailer has set the standard for responding to the increasingly problematic inexpensive lithium battery designs that are most often the cause of sudden fires or burnouts in hoverboards. The Verge explained that Amazon previously offered refunds to U.K. shoppers who were shipped hoverboards with noncompliant charging plugs, and December saw the retailer suspend all hoverboard sales until manufacturers dealt with the product’s evident safety issues.
Usually, when Amazon decides to start selling a fringe product, it’s reached the retail big time. When it starts offering full refunds, though, it’s as close to the last nail in the coffin as it gets.