Amazon bans shoddy, dangerous USB-C cables

Amazon now forbids USB-C cables that aren't standards compliant and pose a potential risk to your devices and chargers.

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Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

It appears Amazon noticed the efforts of one Google engineer to rid the world of shoddy USB-C to Type A cables. Benson Leung recently posted on Google+ that Amazon’s “prohibited listings” now officially forbid poorly constructed USB-C cables.

“Any USB-C (or USB Type-C) cable or adapter product that is not compliant with standard specifications issued by “USB Implementers Forum Inc.” [are prohibited],” Amazon’s restricted electronic products page now reads.

Why this matters: It may seem obvious that a non-standards-compliant USB cable shouldn’t be allowed on Amazon, but it wasn’t until USB-C came along that this issue became especially important. USB-C cables often have to bridge the gap between the newest USB standards and older generations using Type-A connections. As Leung explained in his Bad USB-C FAQ, Type A to Type C cables require a specific resistor value. If you have a poorly designed cable that isn’t standards-compliant, a device can attempt to draw more power than it should. When that happens you can fry your wall adapter, the cable, or even your device.

It’s not over yet

The fear of being kicked off Amazon may force some cable makers to reverse course, but the site won’t be immune from peddling sub-standard wares. You should still read product reviews carefully—especially when buying off-brand cables. It also doesn’t hurt to check out this site listing compliant USB Type-C cables.

If you have the unfortunate luck of discovering a non-compliant USB cable after the fact, you can also report it to Amazon.

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