Amazon Is Selling Products That Were Scavenged from the Trash, Report Finds
The company updated its policy last week to more explicitly prohibit the sale of items taken from the trash
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure — at least, when it comes to certain products on Amazon, a new report claims.
The popular online retailer sells thousands of products each day, though not all are in mint condition — some have actually been scavenged from the trash by third-party sellers, repackaged, and put back up for sale, according to a report published by the Wall Street Journal.
An Amazon spokesperson tells PEOPLE in a statement that while sourcing items from the trash “has always been inconsistent with Amazon’s high expectations of its sellers and prohibited by the Seller Code of Conduct,” the company recently updated its policy “to more explicitly prohibit this type of behavior.”
The update comes after the Journal spoke with several sellers who have gone dumpster diving to find a product haul, and even established an Amazon shop of its own to test whether it would be allowed to sell products culled from the trash.
Oregon-based Wade Coggins told the Journal he regularly scours store clearance sections, abandoned storage units and dumpsters to find items to sell, then repackages them with things like cardboard boxes and bubble wrap, as the products need to “look brand new” when shipped off to be sold through Amazon.
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Another man, 49-year-old David Gracy, told the outlet that his business partner sold humidifiers and keyboards he’d found in a dumpster in 2016.
“Amazon’s not going to ask, ‘Where’d you get it from? Did you get it from a dumpster?’” Gracy said.
Meanwhile, Jesse Durfee of Connecticut said he uses Amazon to sell toys, video games, electronics and various other items he finds in dumpsters and in his town dump.
The Journal‘s reporters behind the story said they established an Amazon shop called DJ Co, and combed dumpsters in suburban New Jersey located behind stores like Michaels and Trader’s Joes.
Their search yielded several products, like a jar of lemon curd from the grocery store and a stencil set from the craft store. They were ultimately able to place the items up for sale, though they purchased the products immediately so no actual customers would, according to the report.
Spokespersons for both Michaels and Trader Joe’s told the WSJ they did not approve of their store’s products being sold on Amazon.
Meanwhile, the report also analyzed various comments to check on customers’ quality complaints regarding food, makeup and over-the-counter medication products.
The WSJ sifted through 45,000 comments left over the last two years, and found that about 8,400 of them complained using words like “unsealed, expired, moldy, unnaturally sticky” or otherwise problematic language.
An Amazon spokesperson told PEOPLE in a statement that the examples outlined in the WSJ report are “isolated incidents.”
“Any negligent and potentially illegal activity by a few bad actors is unfair to the vast majority of exceptional sellers,” the statement read. “We have expanded the scope of our existing supply chain verification efforts including increased spot checks of source documentation to ensure seller compliance with our policies. We will take appropriate action against the bad actors involved, including possible legal action.”