Danger Lurks When Products Recalls Are Ignored, Forgotten

www.cspc.govThe Nap Nanny has been connected to at least six deaths by government investigators.

Whether the product can start fires, lops off the fingers of babies or even has caused deaths, chances are you're not going to do anything about it. And worse still, maybe you'll even turn around and sell that dangerous product to someone else.

It's not that consumers are callous. But when it comes to product recalls, most of us just don't pay attention. And that has led to people dying or getting badly hurt because a recalled product either wasn't returned or repaired.

On Friday, the issue will got some attention on the ABC show "20/20," which will show how TV stations around the country routinely found recalled products for sale around the country. Much of the way the product recall system works is based on the companies' initiative.

Corporate Behavior Varies Widely

It's mostly up to companies to report when they have a problem and issue a recall, and it's entirely up to the companies what happens after that. Some companies are just not all that interested in spending money to fix their defective products or alert consumers to the problems.

Some companies take the responsibility seriously and aggressively announce product recalls as soon as they become aware of problem, often before any incidents are reported. Others hold off conducting a recall as long as possible, when they sell out all the inventory and are less likely to have consumers come back to them for repairs or replacements.

It is common for fewer than one in 10 recalled products to either get returned or repaired as part of an official recall.

Federal Official Wants More

"We need to solve this problem and we need as much energy and as much participation from all different aspects we can," U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Elliot Kaye told ABC. "We need industry to do more, and we certainly need more done on the tech side, and so be able to get these minds, who are so creative, to commit to working in this space really can make a difference."

Many recalls are announced, and that's about it. Some companies will place ads, prominently display notes on their websites or emails customers alerting them to the problem. A responsible company would want as many consumers as possible to be aware that a product it produced has a problem that could hurt someone.

Clearly, not every company cares all that much about their customers. And that leaves consumers often unaware they've got a dangerous product in their homes and it makes it even less likely that the next person they might sell that product to would have a clue. And the danger moves on.

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