Amazon bans substandard USB-C cables

Amazon has banned the sale of substandard USB-C cables on its online stores, after a Google engineer complained about them.

The retailer's updated terms of service prohibit the listing of USB-C cables that are not compliant with official standards.

An entry detailing prohibited items added to Amazon'selectronics pagereads:"Any USB-C (or USB Type-C) cable or adapter product that is not compliant with standard specifications issued by USB Implementers Forum Inc."

This change comes in the wake of an ongoing crusade by a Google engineer to expose poor quality cables in his Amazon customer reviewers.

Benson Leung, a Google engineer, and part of the company's Pixel team, which builds consumer hardware, has reviewed some 170 cables on his Amazon profile. The engineer has gone further than telling customers whether a cable works or not. He has been doing in-depth testing and has told customers which cables are compliant with the official USB-C standards.

In his experience, a shoddy cable can cause data transfer issues or even make a laptop stop working entirely.

Leung wrote on Google+ that he was pleased to see Amazon update its terms, but warned that consumers must remain cautious about their cable purchases.

"Really great news," he wrote. "But we all have to continue to be vigilant and call out any bad products we find on Amazon and other stores (both online and brick and mortar) as we find them."

The design for USB-C also known as USB Type-C or reversible USB connectors cables was finalised in 2014. The reversible port and its connector is capable of acting as a power supply, data transfer cable and display connector all in one.

Among the first devices to make use of USB-C are Google's Chromebook Pixel and Pixel C, and Apple's 12in retina MacBook, all released in 2015.

More devices supporting USB-C are due in 2016, among them rumours of refreshed versions of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro using the new universal port.