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Some Retailers Criticize Amazon's Recall of Eclipse Glasses (kgw.com) 150

An anonymous reader quotes Portland TV station KGW: Amazon issued a widespread recall for solar eclipse glasses early Saturday morning, one week before the August 21 eclipse. That move stunned some sellers who say their glasses are verified safe.... "We recommend that you DO NOT use this product to view the sun or the eclipse," Amazon wrote... "Out of an abundance of caution, we have proactively reached out to customers and provided refunds for eclipse glasses that may not comply with industry standards." At least a dozen KGW viewers said they received recall notices from Amazon Saturday... KGW viewer Heather Andersen said she bought two separate sets of solar glasses and learned both were not verified. "I give up," she tweeted...

Manish Panjwani's Los Angeles-based astronomy product business, AgenaAstro, has sold three times its average monthly revenue in the past month. Ninety-five percent is related to the solar eclipse... Panjwani's eclipse glasses come from two NASA-approved sellers: Thousand Oaks Optical in Arizona and Baader Planetarium in Germany. He said he provided documentation to Amazon proving the products' authenticity weeks ago, with no response from Amazon. On Saturday morning, he woke up to 100 emails from customers after Amazon issued a recall for his products. "People have some of the best glasses in the world in their hands right now and they don't believe in that product," he said. "They're out there looking for something inferior." Panjwani said Amazon is temporarily retaining some of his profits because of the recall. He also has almost 5,000 glasses at an Amazon warehouse, which customers can no longer purchase. "That's just sitting there. I cannot sell it and I cannot get it back in time for the eclipse," he said.

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Some Retailers Criticize Amazon's Recall of Eclipse Glasses

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    • The trick is for all the legit retailers to file a class action against Amazon in California. It is Amazon's own fault for letting in a massive number of no name knockoff vendors from China (or same with a single front person in the US forwarding their cheap knockoff junk with zero vetting).

      Amazon should eat every penny of the losses because they are the ones that polluted their marketplace, not the legit vendors. I hate how Amazon has become a third world flea market in a lot of ways. I would much rathe

  • Both ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Arkh89 ( 2870391 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @06:53PM (#55004775)

    Both Thousand Oaks Optical and Baader are really well-known in the astro community. They both have been making solar filters for a long time and I doubt they would jeopardize customers safety and their brand recognition like this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by geekmux ( 1040042 )

      Both Thousand Oaks Optical and Baader are really well-known in the astro community. They both have been making solar filters for a long time and I doubt they would jeopardize customers safety and their brand recognition like this.

      It's sad when organizations whose good reputation likely exceeds that of Amazons' existence have been impacted in this way.

      The only thing that's worse is damn near every vendor is now too small to do a damn thing about it. Even if they could afford a sizeable class action suit against Amazon, it would not be settled for years while thousands of unjustified 1-star reviews pile up.

      Just another reason we should despise monopolies of any kind.

      • Vendors who sell through Amazon need to accept this type of thing is a risk. Amazon is not now, and never was, an impartial marketplace. It was a big deal when Amazon allowed in used books, cds, and movies, after all, because that might undercut their existing business model. And unlike other large retailers who stock house brands alongside name brands, Amazon itself is a name brand for an increasing array of goods and services. Yes, there are markets that Amazon is not directly involved in, like eclipse gl
    • Re:Both ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by careysub ( 976506 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @07:21PM (#55004897)

      I buy stuff from AgenaAstro all the time, they are the best in the business. And know the Baader solar film very well. It is in fact the industry standard - it is widely used for telescope solar filters. The products in question are all ISO and NASA certified.

      Amazon is simply screwing AgenaAstro not out of "an abundance of caution" but out of impulse and ignorance, and greed (they are keeping some of Panjwani's money for good measure). If they are just exercising their own caution, give him all of his money. Bezos can afford to take the astronomically small risk.

      In fact they should buy his inventory from him. Let Amazon take the hit out its own "abundance of caution".

      • Bezos can afford to take the astronomically small risk.

        I see what you did there.

      • Re:Both ... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @09:23PM (#55005307)
        Baader has several different films. Their silver/gold film is certified safe for visual observation under the ISO standard; their photo film is not [aas.org]. It lets through a little more UV than the ISO limit [cloudynights.com]. It's designed for use on cameras, where the glass in the lens will block enough of the UV to make it ISO-compliant. But if you use it to view the sun directly, you're going to be slightly over the ISO limit.

        While I'm sure AgenaAstro is fine, I wouldn't put it past some fly-by-night shop making glasses out of the photo filter film (because he was unable to purchase the visual filter film). So Amazon is justified in their caution. Where they're screwing up is in bringing up this issue so close to the eclipse, and not reviewing the documentation AgenaAstro sent them in a timely manner.
    • Plus, I trust Agena Astro. I've bought lots of stuff from them without any problems, and I value their opinion on the gear they sell.
    • Re:Both ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @07:43PM (#55004991) Homepage

      Thousand Oaks and Baader glasses just got caught up some sort of frantic Amazon response when the retailer realized some people are selling unsafe crap and they don't have the expertise (and don't care enough to source it it seems) to tell the good from the bad.
      I tried out of curiosity to order a pack of glasses from an ebay seller in the UK (I'll be going to the US in a couple of days). I got glasses with all the marks (CE, ISO...), through which you could see a CFL bulb and its surrounding glow! If they let that much visible light through, who knows about IR/UV - well I could test, but not worth my time... (Note to readers, through real ND5.0 or denser glasses you would only be able to see something as bright as the filament of an incandescent bulb, nothing else - oh, and the sun of course).
      The experiment done, I got a refund and ordered from a proper retailer :) They will complement my Baader Astrosolar filters for the telescope and Thousand Oaks for the binoculars.
      It is interesting that Baader had to modify their classic Astrosolar filter that we use in telescopes, in order to get the strict ISO rating, as they allowed a little bit of UV to pass which meant you could take photos at near UV (e.g. Calcium II K-line).

      • Important warning too, many cheaper ND filters do not IR/UV so don't just buy ND5.0 without full spectrum filtering.

    • Re:Both ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rei_is_a_dumbass ( 4902687 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @07:48PM (#55005015)
      The problem is that there are a ton of counterfeiters on amazon are claiming to be Thousand Oaks Optical and Baader but selling substandard goods.
      • Re:Both ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Fly Swatter ( 30498 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @08:43PM (#55005201) Homepage

        You can thank Amazon's horrible co-mingling of inventory. Even Amazon won't even know which ones are real or fake once they hit the warehouse shelf, so they have to take them all down. I'm sorry some imbecile modded you down but I think you are right, and this is probably what happened.

        • I was wondering if this exact problem was the source of the trouble. The co-mingling BS has to stop. It's why I don't buy memory cards, charger cables, and certain other often counterfeited items through Amazon anymore.

        • I ordered from Rainbow Symphony on Amazon precisely for this reason. I knew they sold legit eclipse glasses, and I noticed that their Amazon listing said "sold by Rainbow Symphony." It was not Prime and did not say "fulfilled by Amazon.". So I placed the order on Amazon, and a couple weeks later I got a package shipped direct from Rainbow Symphony with the eclipse glasses, completely bypassing Amazon's inventory.

          Of course I also ordered them a year ago...
        • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
          I sell on amazon as an FBA seller.

          This is overstated. Azazon does not co-mingle inventory unless the seller reuqests it. The default is to keep each seller's inventory of the same SKU separate. In fact, the bar-code labeling you have to supply for FBA inventory has a unique FNSKU that identifies item -and- seller.

          That said, you can choose to not label and co-mingle. As a seller I think this is stupid - as other sellers that co-mingle could be selling sub-par (expired, counterfeit, damaged) product,

    • Amazon has a warehouse problem where counterfeit products from other sellers are co-mingled with the real thing.

    • I don't think that's the point, actually.

      The point (from the seller) is that he is selling (he says) completely authentic, legit glasses and provided proof of such to Amazon.

      As a consumer, there is almost no way to prove it. Anyone can print whatever the hell they want on the glasses, all the certifications, link to authentic websites, etc - nobody would catch that in time. They can take the EXACT text from legit glasses and print them there.

      We bought some months ago (not from this guy). They said on Ama

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        By the time your eyes hurt, the damage is already likely done.

        • You know what?
          As kids, we all try looking at the sun once or more.
          And our eyes didn't melt, nor did we go blind.

          Occasionally in life, we are dazzled by a blindingly bright light. Life goes on.

          I've got glasses. They seem pretty good. I'm going to use them. I genuinely don't know that they are certified. It's literally impossible to tell...and really, I don't care.

          I'm not saying it's not worth being careful. I'm saying that I'm not going to cringe in terror at the idea of looking through only-90%-good-e

          • Except that vision damage, short of catching a high watt density laser full on, takes a few hours to onset, but once you are blinded, that is it you are never going to see again. It is kind of like nuclear radiation. Once you know you are being injured, you are already screwed...

            Eclipses are not that big a deal, just go outside, see it dark in the middle of the day and then check out the pictures posted online of the eclipse. Eyesight is our most critical of the 5 senses, with hearing being next most cri

  • These glasses [amzn.to] are not safe for viewing the eclipse. Unless you want to qualify for the Darwin Award by wearing them and finding some way to get yourself killed while viewing the eclipse.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    We stop acting like children thinking a solar eclipse is a once in a life time event.

    There's another one crossing the US in 2024 (south to north) by the way. And being in the path of totality is nothing special. Believe me I've been there, it's nothing to write home about.

    The only reason to pay attention to this is if you're a scientist doing research. If you're not, you will be very disappointed.

  • I'm upset about this mostly because of how close Amazon cut it. This could have been done a month ago (I've got a friend who bough some in early July and got one of these e-mails). Like some said above, that makes this look like profiteering now that prices for "Safe" ones are bumped up. Finding retailers that have them in stock, and can deliver before the eclipse is a problem at this point.
    • That and their will still be a lot of partial or permanently blinded children and adults from this anyway you Look at it.
  • I bought a pack of 4 eclipse glasses. The listing on Amazon claimed they were ISO certified. However, before they arrived, I had some doubt about the glasses because the manufacturer was not listed as a supplier of safe glasses. When I went to look at the listing again, it had been taken down (not just zero available, but the product was not found).

    When they arrived, there was no ISO marking on the glasses. In fact, there was a marking "Do not use for Sun glasses".

    So, they went back, then about a day later,

    • In fact, there was a marking "Do not use for Sun glasses".

      Not saying the glasses were legitimate or not, but that warning would actually be good for real eclipse glasses. With actual eclipse glasses, you can look at an unfrosted incandescent light bulb, and all you'll see is a faint glowing filament surrounded by black. Using those as sun glasses would be a good way to crash your car.

  • by Artagel ( 114272 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @09:56PM (#55005421) Homepage

    The problem Amazon faces is true of all safety equipment. If some fly-by-night or foreign vendor puts sunglasses on the store as being fit for solar eclipse viewing Amazon is on hook for injuries. The same will be true of any other safety equipment that fails. As the only deep pocket left in sight, Amazon will bear the hole burden. It is the result of making sure the injured person is compensated if someone is more responsible than the injured person. Our system encourages knee-jerk decisions just like this to prevent injuries.

    It's the American way. Once you move away from caveat emptor, it is the only logical stopping place.

    • There's no possible way for you to confirm yourself before buying, when you're buying online. The problem here is that Amazon should have exercised more caution earlier--it should be beyond obviously simple here to refuse to list safety equipment without getting its claims verified & have in the contracts penalties for any seller who might let their standards...relax once they've gotten their listing OK. (Given the nature of Amazon, I'd suggest that there should be a financial penalty, and the sum tha

      • by torkus ( 1133985 )

        There's no possible way for you to confirm yourself before buying, when you're buying online

        Actually, I don't believe there's any way to actually confirm AFTER RECEIVING in this case either. Virtually no one has even rudimentary testing equipment to verify UV filtering on glasses. You can make an approximation for the visible light using a bright bulb but that's only half the equation.

        • Really? I'd expect testing the translucency of a lens to actually be a relatively simple exercise in spectroscopy, and the only thing you'd really need to do is find the right type of spectrograph. First check your light source to make sure it produces UV light, then do a second reading after sliding the glasses into place as a filter--and I'd actually be rather surprised if people haven't recycled paper glasses as a filter/lens source in science, since they're light, inexpensive, and sometimes distinctly

    • The problem isn't because of tort law, it's because of lack of meaningful regulation on places like amazon that allow counterfeiters to sell things and mix up inventory so much that even legitimate sellers have the counterfeiters' knockoffs sold from their storefront.

    • by torkus ( 1133985 )

      Which is why Amazon is turning into a cesspool in their quest to sell everything to everyone. All the 3rd party sellers that afforded them that opportunity without having to sink all their own money...now have exactly the same quality as randos selling nonsense on fleabay.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The issue here is NOT tort law, but contract law: specifically, see Hawkins v. McGee [wikipedia.org] 84 N.H. 114, 146 A. 641 (N.H. 1929). If Amazon sells something with the claim that it is safe for eclipse viewing, but it is not, then Amazon is in breach of its contract with the purchaser, and is liable for any damages caused by its failure to live up to its side of the contract.

      The issue with Amazon is analogous to me hiring a plumber to install a sink, with terms in the contract that the sink would not leak, and disco

  • According to Meade, my EclipseView glasses meet all relevant standards. Amazon needs to calm down. Who elected them official Eclipse Safety Gods?
  • Put them on.

    Look at the sun

    Do your eyes hurt, Is it too bright, or leaving spots?

    --Yes- return These are garbage

    --No- Pass these have been verified.

    You're not a garden slug. You can tell if something is too bright to look at. If not better move into a cave.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Put them on.

      Look at the sun

      Do your eyes hurt, Is it too bright, or leaving spots?

      --Yes- return These are garbage

      --No- Pass these have been verified.

      You're not a garden slug. You can tell if something is too bright to look at. If not better move into a cave.

      No. You can't tell. That's exactly why the fakes can be so dangerous. Some block visible light just fine but not the damaging levels of non-visible light, so you happily stare at the sun in perfect comfort while the UV burns away your retina. (Your retina doesn't have pain receptors. The discomfort from looking at overly bright objects is generated in the brain based on the input from the rods and cones.)

      • by krray ( 605395 )

        Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. It's my understanding / recollection (I remember the one in '79) that you can stare right the eclipse bare eyed no problem (except the damage you're doing); it won't hurt one bit at the moment.

        So ... I ordered #14 welding goggles months ago [Amazon]. I got the email telling me NOT TO USE THEM. Yet they are certified / stamped 14 [NASA recommended].

        Now what the fuck do I do?

  • If you (like me) bought glasses and then got a warning email from Amazon, the American Astronomical Society has a guide to checking your glasses [aas.org]

    How can you tell if your solar viewer is not safe? You shouldn't be able to see anything through a safe solar filter except the Sun itself or something comparably bright, such as the Sun reflected in a mirror, a sunglint off shiny metal, the hot filament of an unfrosted incandescent light bulb, a bright halogen light bulb, a bright-white LED flashlight (including t

  • I've checked about 20+ retailers, and they're all sold out. Anyone have a source on where a pair of glasses can still be ordered in time for the eclipse?

    • Your best bet at this point is probably to get them in person. Are there any planetariums or museums in your area? You might see if they have them in their gift shops. If there's a university with an astronomy department near you, they might be able to help you find some.

Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition. - Isaac Asimov

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