Not everything that sounds like a good idea ends up being one. We have found out very quickly that “hoverboards” fall neatly into that category.
Hoverboards were the big talk of the holiday season, and now they can’t even be found on Amazon. Do a quick search on the site and you will not find a single listing from even the most obscure hoverboard manufacturers. Go on, try it.
The e-commerce giant pulled all of the products without any explanation, but the timing suggests a response to statements made last week by the U.S. government declaring all hoverboards to be unsafe.
This all started when videos surfaced online showing these only slightly cooler-looking, handle-less segways catching on fire. Those videos were quickly followed by a ban by every major airline keeping hoverboard owners from bringing their potentially explosive devices on-board.
It’s become increasingly difficult to even purchase one of these poorly designed, poorly named excuses for what we now must helplessly call a “real hoverboard.” Major retailers including Overstock, Toys ‘R’ Us, and Target beat Amazon to the punch, getting rid of hoverboards from their stock over the past few months.
The problem with the devices is that the internally housed lithium-ion batteries are undergoing thermal runaway. Something airlines are now very weary of. Thermal runaway is a term you can expect to hear a lot of as lithium-ion batteries continue to take over our electronics. It is when the structure of a battery gets damaged causing an increase in temperature and a release of energy. That energy causes an additional increase in temperature and therefore another additional release of energy. You probably get where this is going.
The results of thermal runaway can be catastrophic, causing the hoverboards to catch on fire—as if falling off these devices and eating concrete wasn’t harmful enough. Thankfully, if you just threw away your hoverboard after reading those last few paragraphs, you can go ahead and pick it out of the trash, because as of last week Amazon will reportedly give a full refund to anyone who purchased a hoverboard from its site.
And this isn’t the first time Amazon has stopped selling hoverboards. It pulled popular Swagway hoverboards last December only to reverse that decision soon afterward.
With how poorly things have been going for the hoverboard industry lately, and the refund policy given by Amazon, it is not surprising to see it come up with the same decision other major retailers have settled on.
Good thing too, the less I have to write “hoverboard” for something that is very firmly on the ground the better. Oh yeah, and then there is the decreased chance of people catching on fire. Best Amazon wait for a name and design change before relisting these potentially harmful contraptions.