According to a recent article in the New York Times, many companies are reluctant to publicly confirm defective product recalls and as a result, consumers are returning fewer and fewer defective and dangerous products back to the manufacturer. Because companies realistically do not want to issue press releases or publicly confirm that they manufactured or sold a defective and unreasonably dangerous product, more often than not, consumers still own products subject to safety related recall campaigns. According the New York TImes, just in the past month,
Despite major recalls occurring several times a month — so far October has brought a few million more exploding notebook batteries, a strangling cardigan for children and a pumpkin-decorating kit [ ] choking hazard — most people are oblivious to them.
The government agency charged with oversight of product recalls does not help much to get the word out to consumers. According to the article,
It does not help that the safety commission, the federal agency charged with protecting consumers, is severely limited in what it can say about safety investigations. Even after a recall is announced, it cannot disclose any information that the recalling company does not want disclosed, agency staff members say.
The commission has been analyzing recalls and has been listening to consumer focus groups to determine when and why consumers respond to recalls. But the basic problem remains that companies don’t like having to announce a recall.
The article suggests that consumers make a committment to regularly monitor product recalls by reviewing the following sources of information:
If consumers do want to track recalls, the best government sites are www.cpsc.gov or www.recalls.gov. Consumers can sign up for e-mail alerts about recalls at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.asp. Consumer Reports magazine’s Web site also lists recent recalls at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/consumer-protection/recalls/index.htm.
I guess this means that we cannot rely on our government or the company which sold a defective and unreasonably dangerous product to fully disclose to all consumer purchasers that a product it sold was dangerous. If we cannot even rely on companies or our government to provide sufficient safety and warning information, how can we trust and believe that tort reform initiatives taking away consumer rights to sue will somehow improve product safety and communication in this country?