Anyone Can Report Unsafe or Defective Products. Here’s How.

by Chris Bjorklund

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One of my proudest moments as a consumer news producer was a story that prompted a national recall. A mother of a 20-month-old had called the TV station where I worked to report that she discovered her toddler had been playing with a dangerous toy. The stuffed bear had a wire protruding from its belly, and luckily, the mom noticed it before the child injured himself. She couldn’t believe the toy manufacturer could get away with selling unsafe stuffed bears nationwide at big retail outlets. After getting all the facts, we contacted the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in San Francisco. The agency agreed to investigate and we aired several stories. As a result of our reporting, more consumers contacted the CPSC with similar complaints.

During the investigation, the government found out that more than 50,000 stuffed animals which were made in Taiwan had been sold in the U.S. While testing a random sample, investigators found that the rusty, sharp wires inside the bears (possibly from sewing room floors) could poke through the fur. In some cases, the bears’ noses fell off, posing a potential choking hazard. The stuffed toys were ruled a hazardous substance and the company was ordered to make refunds.

Manufacturers are legally required to report any product they suspect to be hazardous within 24 hours. Consumers can report problems with unsafe products directly to the manufacturer as well as the CPSC. The CPSC Hotline is (800) 638-2772, and you can also file a complaint online at www.saferproducts.gov.