July 15, 2024

Bucks: SafetyBook Helps Sort Out Product Recalls

A quick glance at the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site reveals a spate of recalls for potentially dangerous products: flaming toasters, moldy baseball gloves, faulty cribs, rotting swing sets.

SafetyBook, a Web-based product tracking service, aims to help consumers sort out which recalls are relevant to them. The site tracks recalls issued by the commission, covering consumer products like children’s toys and furniture, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which covers automobiles, and other sources. You can register up to three products free, or pay a one-time fee of $18 to register unlimited items. If a recall is issued for any of them, the service automatically alerts you with an e-mail.

Dan Verakis, the site’s co-founder, said there was a need for better tracking because some recalls were repeats. That, he said, means “people don’t get the message, and children are still being injured or killed” because of defective products. There were hundreds of recalls covering some 65 million items last year alone, he said, with many posing threats to children. “We can help with those connections,” he said, “to make sure people are notified and are not in jeopardy.”

Many people don’t bother to send in the manufacturer’s product registration card when they make a purchase, he said, either because they simply don’t take the time, or they are wary that it will lead to mountains of junk mail. (He estimated that less than 20 percent of new products are registered, and about the same proportion of recalled items are actually returned.) So by entering their products online, consumers can track any potential safety problems without worrying about unwanted solicitations.

Will consumers actually take the time to register products online? Mr. Verakis said the site had tried to make the process as simple as possible. Consumers have the option of entering a product’s model and serial number, but they don’t have to if they find it cumbersome. Instead, they can simply enter the manufacturer and the type of product — say, a Whirlpool refrigerator — and leave it at that. That means they’ll get notices of any recall of any refrigerator by that manufacturer, but they can then check to the appliance’s model number to see if is, in fact, the version in question. “It might not be my exact one, but at least if I know there’s a problem I can look to see,” he said.

It’s true that you could search the product safety commission’s recall site for recalls affecting products you might own, he said, but most people don’t have that kind of time.

Although it has a dot-org Web address, SafetyBook isn’t a nonprofit group, Mr. Verakis said. The site aims to make money, through its membership fees and eventually advertising. The site does not, however, share your information with manufacturers, marketers or other third parties, he said.

Would you find the tracking service provided by SafetyBook useful?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=03fa2769a843bfd34567453a45766b48

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