J&J fights with Amazon over third-party resellers

The online marketplace can make it much easier for consumers to get what they want when they want it, including popular over-the-counter products like Tylenol. But depending on the seller and its source, those products could be expired, defective, or even counterfeit. Now Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) is in a spat with Amazon ($AMZN), contending that the online giant is not doing enough to stop that from happening.

J&J has sold many of its popular OTC products directly to Amazon for years, but some of Amazon's third-party resellers also hawk J&J goods. According to The Wall Street Journal, J&J quit selling Tylenol, Band-Aids and Johnson's baby products to Amazon this year because it felt the online retailer wasn't taking its complaints about some of those players seriously enough.

The third-party online marketplace makes it more difficult for companies to protect product quality and, therefore, their brand reputations. When they are not stocking shelves, they have less control. "The most important thing for us is that the products reaching our consumers' hands are the quality they expect and give them the experience they deserve," J&J spokeswoman Sandra Pound told the newspaper. Amazon did not comment.

Amazon acknowledges it can't guarantee that its third-party sellers will deliver their products as promised but that it will reimburse buyers up to $2,500 for damaged or defective items. The Wall Street Journal says both J&J and Amazon have gotten complaints about some J&J products. Mystery shoppers also received some defective J&J products from Amazon resellers. One online reviewer complained of receiving expired bottles of Zyrtec antihistamines. The Wall Street Journal says the fight has been going on for months and that J&J only recently continued sales of some of its products to Amazon. Sources tell the newspaper that its mystery shoppers haven't found as many problems lately.

- here's the Wall Street Journal story (sub. req.)

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