Monday April 26, 2021
Timing and Control of Safety Notices Is at Core of CPSC's Peloton Quarrel
CPSC included a rebuttal by Peloton in a unilateral warning about the company's Tread+ treadmills. The agency said it did so to comply with 6(b) obligations. Meanwhile, hours before that press release, the Washington Post ran a story focused on the disagreement. It identified its source about the dispute only as "an official familiar with the CPSC's concerns."
In any event, the primary details involving the death of a child and other incidents were public prior to the Post story (wapo.st/2Qkfxif), including in a public statement March 18 from Peloton CEO John Foley (bit.ly/3em4oFA). Information also previously was available on SaferProducts.gov as well as in numerous stories in the general press.
What the article did reveal was a disagreement with at least two parts – whether incidents were due to the product or to consumer misuse and whether the company should volunteer victims' personal details to CPSC. On the latter, the Post reported that Peloton asked for, received, and complied with an administrative subpoena seeking such information.
Meanwhile, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) a few days before the article called on (bit.ly/3xeOaai) CPSC to give details on matters like hinderance by 6(b), funding needs, commission balance, and legal limitations "that have slowed or delayed the agency’s investigation and its efforts to publicize unreasonable risks to consumers." She also wrote:
"CPSC must be able to act nimbly in identifying and responding to emerging hazards. In addition to the absence of publicly available information about the child fatality, other publicly reported incidents involving the same treadmill model suggest potential obstacles preventing the Commission from taking swift action to protect the public."
CPSC's unilateral statement (bit.ly/2Q9O2Ip) points to "dozens of incidents of children being sucked beneath the Tread+." It called for "consumers with children at home to stop using the product immediately" or to place the devices in locked rooms. It also solicited incident reports.
The release included a Peloton assertion that CPSC was being "inaccurate and misleading" and that the product is safe if consumers follow instructions. It warned consumers "not to let children use the Tread+ and to keep children, pets, and objects away from the Tread+ at all times."
CPSC's release also included its counter assertion:
"It is believed that at least one incident occurred while a parent was running on the treadmill, suggesting that the hazard cannot be avoided simply by locking the device when not in use. Reports of a pet and objects being sucked beneath the Tread+ also suggest possible harm to the user if the user loses balance as a result."
The company reiterated and expanded on its position in its own press release (bit.ly/2QHUvtK), including that it would have been willing to issue joint release if it had been able "to correct inaccuracies." It expressed willingness to continue working with CPSC on the matter.
The company also put out a follow-up statement by Foley (bit.ly/3tCFmJ1) that included:
"At no time was Peloton trying to impede CPSC’s investigation. We were simply standing behind our Members' right to maintain their privacy, and we remain committed to providing this type of information only with a Member’s consent or pursuant to a subpoena. Government agencies shouldn’t have unfettered access to consumers’ private information, and I am proud that we took a stand to protect these Members' privacy."