Amazon Warns Some Customers Not To Use Solar Eclipse Glasses Purchased Through Its Site

Aug 15, 2017

With less than a week till the much anticipated solar eclipse, some Amazon shoppers are scrambling to find glasses that are certified safe to view the event. The online retailer recently emailed some shoppers to tell them not to use the solar eclipse glasses they purchased on the site from third-party vendors.

One of them is Ginny Baldwin from Seattle. She had bought solar eclipse glasses on Amazon that seemed to have the correct safety certification when they arrived.   

“But then when I went back to Amazon to check, the page that they were on was completely gone,” she said.

Then she got an email from Amazon telling her not to use the glasses.

“To protect your eyes when viewing the sun or an eclipse, NASA and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) advise you to use solar eclipse glasses or other solar filters from recommended manufacturers. Viewing the sun or an eclipse using any other glasses or filters could result in loss of vision or permanent blindness,” the email said. “Amazon has not received confirmation from the supplier of your order that they sourced the item from a recommended manufacturer.”

Amazon is giving her a refund, and Baldwin said she feels like the company has handled it properly. But it’s scary to think about using glasses that aren’t safe.

“These were glasses that my kids were going to use to watch the eclipse,” she said. “People can get very injured from this. It’s a terrible scam.”

Baldwin said she was able to buy some new ones, but many stores are now sold out.

Some King County libraries will be handing out eclipse glasses, including the library in Shoreline, which will distribute glasses on Aug. 20 at 2:00 p.m. as well as at 9:45 am on Aug. 21. The American Astronomical Society also has a list of vendors and recommended manufacturers on its site.

But because the eclipse is now less than a week away and many vendors are sold out, Amazon should consider doing more to make it up to customers, said David Bell, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

“People are having a difficulty coming up with their own remedy to the situation, so given this case, it puts a bit more onus on Amazon to maybe do something a little bit out of the ordinary to compensate these people and get them back to feeling as good about Amazon as they did before they purchased those particular glasses,” he said.

For example, he said the company could offer to extend Amazon Prime membership or offer a gift card to assuage customers.

Amazon said eclipse glasses still listed on its site come from vendors who did provide safety documentation. A company spokeswoman did not respond to requests for an interview.