Over the weekend I received a surprising email from Amazon.com telling me that some protective glasses that I recently purchased from them for my family to use as we watch the solar eclipse on August 21st were not confirmed safe for use.
Even though the glasses are marked with an ISO number (ISO 12312-2 for those keeping track at home), which has been verified to comply with international safety standards, Amazon said they had not received confirmation from the supplier that they came from a recommended manufacturer. Because of this, they are applying a balance for the purchase price to my account, and there is no need for me to return the glasses.
“We recommend that you DO NOT use this product to view the sun or the eclipse,” Amazon wrote.
In addition to the email sent to customers, Amazon also said the following in a statement:
“Safety is among our highest priorities. 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. We want customers to buy with confidence anytime they make a purchase on Amazon.com and eclipse glasses sold on Amazon.com are required to comply with the relevant ISO standard.”
KGW.com is reporting that, as you might expect, sellers aren’t happy with Amazon recalling their products. Manish Panjwani’s LA-based business sells eclipse glasses from two NASA-approved sellers, and has provided documentation to prove it; however, his products were still included in the Amazon recall.
“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.”
In addition, Amazon is temporarily retaining some of Panjawani’s profits due to the recall. And to add insult to injury, he also has almost 5,000 pairs of glasses at an Amazon warehouse that customers can no longer purchase.
Also, the American Astronomical Society said last week that it updated its safety advice “in response to alarming reports” of unsafe glasses selling online. And to help curb fraud, the AAS posted a list of verified vendors and websites where those eclipse glasses are sold.
So what to do now? The eclipse is a week away, and approved eye wear is becoming harder and harder to find. Me? I’m going to be checking every store and eye doctor in my area to find acceptable replacements, but I’m still not 100% sure that it’s even necessary given how Amazon is being overly cautious with the issue. In this case though, where I could end up being blinded for life, I guess a little (or a lot of) caution goes a long way.
What are your plans for the eclipse? Are you traveling to the path of totality? And were you affected by this recall? Let us know in the comments below.