Monday December 23, 2019
Senate Report Recommends CPSC Take Three Steps to Improve Recalls
A report from the Democratic minority of the Senate Commerce Committee urged three steps to improve CPSC responses to unsafe products. The document (bit.ly/35IJZVW) followed requests for information from ranking member Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) in the past year on jogging strollers (PSL, 4/15/19) and home elevators (PSL, 8/5/19). It also addressed inclined sleepers.
The report was sharply critical, of CPSC, using phrases like "failed recalls," "inappropriate deference to industry," and "putting the safety of U.S. consumers at risk." It focused on Republican commissioners, and asserted, "New leadership at the CPSC has expressed an indication to take a more aggressive approach to protecting consumers and addressing past failures." This referred to Commissioner Robert Adler, a Democrat, taking over as acting chairman earlier this year (PSL, 10/7/19).
The three recommendations were for CPSC to increase:
On the voucher issue, the report explained:
"The CPSC approach in the last two years to approving voluntary recalls that include a coupon or voucher as the sole remedy for all or part of a defective product recall is likely to undermine product safety. And the unilateral "safety warning" for potentially defective residential elevators illustrates an approach that provides no benefits to anyone, other than potential legal cover for the elevator manufacturers."
"In the past, the Commission has offered a "hybrid" option for certain defective products, mainly household appliances, that has provided either a free repair for the product or a coupon or discount for the purchase of a new product. The key in those cases is that the consumer has an option that makes them "whole." In both the BOB jogging stroller consent agreement and the Rock ‘n Play recall, the current CPSC approach will likely further reduce consumer product safety."
"As detailed above, recall completion rates are already extremely low for many defective products, such as the BOB jogging stroller. Providing a sole remedy that does not incentivize return or destruction of the product will likely lower these rates even further."
"Furthermore, these types of coupon, voucher, and amorphous "safety alert" settlements with companies undermine U.S. leadership in consumer product safety. The CPSC has long been recognized around the world as one of the premier product safety agencies, and many other consumer product regulators have sought to follow the CPSC lead on regulations and recalls. Unfortunately, the BOB jogging stroller consent agreement and Rock ‘n Play recall show that CPSC efforts are now lagging behind other world regulators and putting U.S. consumers at increased risk."
Cantwell more recently (PSL, 9/30/19) has sought feedback from CPSC about its actions under the Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act, but this report did not address those matters.