Gone with the Gear: Should You Buy Motorcycle Gear off of Amazon?
Motorcycle Airbags (Life Jackets) Recalled - and That Ain't the Worst of it.
Amazon boxes being deployed to their respective new owners. Media sourced from Vox.
You know those ‘catfishing’ ads that show off svelte, perfectly-fitting, leather-looking jackets with seemingly pristine safety certification ratings – and all for limbo-low pricepoints?
If you know what I’m talking about, you also know that what’s on the screen is totally NOT what arrives in the mail a few weeks later. For years, 2D-vs-3D perspectives have skewed what really makes a safe set of gear for the ATTGAT-conscious rider – and in the case of this recent recall by the UK government, a failure to comply with basic PPE requirements caused the units to be pulled off the Amazon.com shelves entirely.
We should mention the big bit of scandal; that some of these units were life jackets masquerading as motorcycle airbags.
The report from Bennetts states that “the products are classed as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).”
“The products were not supplied with the required compliance documentation (PPE Regulation 2016/425), or markings to demonstrate that they have been adequately conformity assessed.”
“Some of those recalled ‘life jackets’ were also being sold as ‘motorcycle airbags’.”
The tricky part at this point isn’t the gear itself, but Amazon’s reputation as a reputable platform; according to this report, ‘ALL motorcycle clothing put onto the market since the 21st of April, 2018, MUST be tested and certified as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).’
To match this, Amazon’s contract with their suppliers, states that ‘third party sellers are independent businesses and are required to follow all applicable laws, regulations, and Amazon policies when listing items for sale in [Amazon].’
How does this affect Amazon as the representing body of third-party suppliers?
Not much, apparently.
The report details multiple people finding over 60 models of gear that were not safe to wear for today’s motorcycle safety ratings. The units – at least 38 – deemed by leading members of Personal Protective Equipment Regulation (such as Paul Varnsverry, an expert in the field), were ‘flagged by the platform and eventually removed, with the third-party sellers risking having their platforms removed.’
And that’s after a lengthy battle to have the items removed, with a long laundry list of communications between Amazon’s side and people like Paul.
This story is just one of many in an increasingly digital landscape – and Amazon’s reputation may eventually suffer from it.
“Customers deserve to be well protected everywhere they shop,” argues Dr Jeremy Opperer, the Principal, EMEA Product Trust & Regulatory Affairs at Amazon.
“Each part of the value chain has a role to play. From manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers to online marketplaces. Even authorities and consumers play a part.”
This quote is from a video of Dr. Opperer in an interview with Corporate Communications, showing what the brand’s beliefs.
So how can we as riders make sure we get quality gear on a platform that promotes third-party sellers?
The same way we walk into a bazaar and know how to pinpoint the freshest plants, the finest cloth, the best deals: By using multiple tools to check a single resource from every angle possible.
1. Read reviews on the product.
We at wBW spend a stupid amount of time reviewing gear that we get – and much to the chagrin of many, we’re embarrassingly honest about how well it performs. If you can find a platform where someone is giving their honest, it’s-not-all-a-basket-of-roses opinion of it, odds are you can take that and bank it as one of your trustworthy sources.
2. Check the certification ratings…everywhere.
Do this both on the gear’s original brand website as well as whichever digital platform sells it – and do it before buying the thing. Who knows how much of a pain it will be to get that package back through the post on a return policy.
3. Stay Surf-Smart!
Did you just stumble upon an ad (or a website page) where a brand-new, genuine leather jacket sits discounted at 95% off with free shipping and a 10% coupon if you submit your personal information?
Wow. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, don’t you think?
It isn’t, and please don’t.
Take it from us – a deal like that doesn’t exist. You’re very likely getting a lesson in the groan-worthy side of bang-for-buck, so cancel that order while you still can.
What do you think?
Comment down below – we’d love to hear from you.
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Check ‘er out, give us a shout, and as ever – stay safe on the twisties.