It seems some battles are never-ending. Despite launching in a timely and cost-effective manner, the CPSC’s SaferProducts.gov is still under attack. The House Appropriations Committee has passed a spending bill that defunds the database. Saferproducts.gov is a database that allows people both to report any faulty or defective product they may have purchased as well as review product safety issues before purchasing an item. Since its launch in March, the website has seen over 1600 reports, with about 280 reports falling under the two categories Babies & Kids and Toys. (Thanks to US Representative Henry Waxman for his detailed analysis.)
When consumers lodge a complaint, which, in the case of child products, can range from diaper rashes to choking hazards, CPSC gives the named manufacturer 10 days to respond to the complaint before the incident is made public. In some cases, the companies do chose to respond; explaining that the incident reported was a fluke or user error. In other cases, the company may chose not to respond. However, this database allows consumers to see if others have the same problems that they are experiencing with their product. It also allows people to research many different products before making a purchase.
Those opposed to the development of this website argue that the website is a breeding ground for misleading information about products and unanswerable consumer complaints. However, the latest data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 84% of reports filed in the database included the model and serial number of the reported product. Eighty-two percent of people who filed reports also allowed their contact information to be passed on to the manufacturing company, allowing the company to address their complaints. Of the 1,600 reports now included in the database, only 194 were found to contain false information. In most of these situations, the consumer mistakenly named the wrong manufacturer of the product. Over all, the website has been overwhelmingly successful and cutting the funding for this website would be a huge blow to consumer and product safety as well as an incredible waste of the funds already spent getting it up and running.
Please take a minute to ask your US Representative to oppose efforts to defund this vital consumer safety tool.