New resource to report an unsafe product

Before you make your next big purchase for your child or yourself, you may want to consider more than just ratings on the product. There is a new database that gives you insight into safety complaints, but I didn’t find one parent who knew about the website and new disclosures.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) launched Saferproducts.gov today to give consumers the chance to file a complaint about a product or search complaints.  It’s a result of so many recalls on children’s products.

There were efforts by some lawmakers to cut off funding for the database, and manufacturers are concerned unverified complaints will publicly be displayed in the database.  The manufacturer will have a set amount of days to respond to the complaint, and their answer will be included.

The National Association of Manufacturers wanted the database to be delayed because they feel it will put an unreasonable burden on manufacturers.  “Makers of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), toys and other juvenile products estimate losses of more than $3 billion as a result of the CPSIA. Many of these products present little or no risk to the public,” NAM wrote in one policy paper in support of it’s position to delay the database.  There is also concern that the CPSC won’t have the resources to handle the influx of complaints to really sort through the legitimate and illegitimate ones.

As with any database, you need to qualify the comments you see. It’s not uncommon for me to find negative comments about a restaurant I love.  Restaurant comments are more subjective than the safety of a toy or product, but there is concern some subjectivity could taint the comments.  Is the wheel of a toy car really a hazard, or did one parent just think it was? Parents need to use this resource appropriately, and hopefully they will. Don’t start reporting every safety concern you may have. Report only legitimate concerns and situations.

If you search the database, read those comments with some caution.   As one parent told me, the comments are a good starting point to get the conversation going. As we’ve seen, it’s taken too long to get the conversation going on some toys and it’s caused injuries and death in children.

The government has other publicly available complaint databases including Safercar.gov. It’s a website run by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and allows drivers to file complaints about cars. The difference between cars and toys is that there are a lot more toy manufacturers than car manufacturers.

While you may look at a product and think you know who made it, you need to be careful. For example, a Disney pop-up tent with Disney characters on it is not made by Disney. They license the use of their name and characters.  You need to look for the small tag on the product or check the bottom of the toy to find the manufacturer’s name.  That’s probably the only clue you’ll have since the big tag that’s attached to the toy when you buy it at the store will be gone by the time you have a problem.

What do you think about the new database? Do you think it will be a valuable resource? Click “Comment” below and share your thoughts.

2 responses to “New resource to report an unsafe product

  1. You start by saying you didn’t find any parents aware of the database — it just went live today. But check out these moms’ comments on the database. It is too late for them, but they know it might save another baby’s life. http://kidsindanger.blogspot.com/2011/03/tomorrow-is-day.html

  2. Thanks Nancy. Those are very sad stories. Most of the parents in your link have a direct connection to this. Parents who have not experienced a tragedy due to safety issues are mostly unaware of the database. Thanks.