ConsumerWatch: It's important to keep up with product recall alerts

ConsumerWatch: It's important to keep up with product recall alerts

October 13th, 2012 by Ellen Phillips in Business Diary

Ellen Phillips

I subscribe to a number of consumer newsletters and am always interested in product recalls. ShopSmart, a leg of Consumer Reports, tells us that people die or become dangerously ill every year from innocent-looking items lying around the house.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reminds us how crucial it is to keep up with recalls and then do whatever is necessary regarding the item or product, especially if children are around. So what do I do to receive notice, you ask?

I've decided because of so much info to break up this column into three separate weeks, beginning with the overall four steps to protect your home (and you) from defective products that could cause harm.

• Stay up-to-date. Fill out and return product warranty/registration cards, especially for infant or toddler items. If you move, let the manufacturer know your new address. (After all, you've kept copies of the registration cards in a file, haven't you?) Don't worry about getting your name on telemarketers' lists; by law, manufacturers of kids' products are banned from using your info for marketing reasons. Read recall notices every Wednesday on www.shopsmartmag.org or like ShopSmart on Facebook to receive it. Twitter followers can find the recall info @ShopSmartmag. Sign up at www.consumerreports.org to receive a free safety alert newsletter or RSS feed. And also check www.recalls.gov.

• Check on products before you fork over the money to buy them. Uncle Sam has a new Website (www.saferproducts.gov) that lets you browse products by name, category, or manufacturer. And in case you're on the road having fun at yard sales, remember that it's illegal to sell recalled products. However, many do show up in these types of resell situations but, if you have a Droid cell phone, you can check products on the road by downloading the free app recalls.gov. (Check the link on the home page of www.recalls.gov.)

• Immediately respond to calls. And immediately stop using the recalled item. Check the recall notice for instructions on how to return it and receive a substitute or a refund.

• Report safety problems. First, contact the manufacturer directly. Also, fill out a form at www.saferproducts.gov.

(To be continued ...)

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Saturday. Email her at consumer watch@timesfree press.com.