Fake solar eclipse glasses sold to Mid-South school through Amazon

CORDOVA, TN (WMC) - The glasses were supposed to be safe, approved by the world's leading 3-D glasses manufacturer and sold by the world's largest web retailer.

That's not what arrived in the box sent to St. Francis of Assisi Day School in Cordova, Tennessee. The school received 600 pairs of worthless, counterfeit solar eclipse sunglasses, nearly a month after its administrators ordered them from Amazon.com and three days before the big event.

"It's like, are you kidding?" said St. Francis Principal Kathy Scherer.

According to the Amazon.com invoice, the school paid more than $200 for the glasses. Its administrators followed the guidance of NASA and the American Astronomical Society for approved labeling and identification of safe eclipse glasses before making their choice.

They even based their choice on the glasses' advertised manufacturer: American Paper Optics. Based in Bartlett, Tennessee, it's the global leader in 3-D glasses. Its name, address, and website are listed on the very glasses sent to the school.

But they're not the company's glasses, said President/CEO John Jerit. We delivered them to the company for his inspection. "Yes, these are counterfeit," Jerit said. The label on the package sent to St. Francis indicated the glasses were made in and shipped from Hong Kong.

"They actually put our company name on the glasses. But the eye-holes of ours are more oval. This one is more squared off a little bit. I can certainly say that they are not necessarily safe," said Jerit.

"There's no way we could put these on kids and feel safe about that," Scherer said. "It sure makes me think twice about ordering anything from Amazon.com."

We took a closer look at the school's Amazon order confirmation page. It revealed Amazon.com sold the glasses through a third-party named Pparty. On Amazon's own customer review page of Pparty, consumers have left scathing messages of the vendor's solar eclipse glasses. One wrote, "These are FAKE glasses!" Another posted, "I am extremely alarmed about notification that these glasses are not safe for solar eclipse viewing!"

When we attempted to click on the order confirmation to try to link to Pparty, a "Sorry" screen popped up, indicating the page could not be reached.

Amazon.com press representative Cecilia Fan responded quickly to our email. She said St. Francis school would receive a full refund. Her full statement:

"Out of an abundance of caution and in the interests of our customers, we asked third-party sellers that were offering solar eclipse glasses to provide documentation to verify their products were compliant with relevant safety standards. The offers from sellers who provided this safety documentation remain available to customers. The listings from sellers who did not provide the appropriate documentation have been removed and customers who purchased from them were notified last week. Customers can contact Amazon customer service with any questions or concerns. 

Fan did not say whether Amazon.com will terminate its partnership with Pparty. St. Francis school ended up securing safe and authentic sunglasses in time for the August 21 solar eclipse.

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