Parents are some of the most reliable consumers on the market. Babies need lots of stuff! And they grow constantly, which means even if you've bought something, you need a new something once your kid outgrows the old something. Plus, there are so many products out there that we want to try or need to use on a regular basis. No wonder raising kids is so expensive, right?! We drop a lot of money on stuff for our kids, but we expect those products to be reliable and safe. However, there are occasions when something we purchase or use is recalled. Typically the recall is issued after the product is found to be defective in some way, thereby posing a risk of injury or worse. Product recalls range from minor issues like a snap that won't stay snapped, to more serious product defects, like a car seat strap that frays or a crib that collapses when in use. Many parents brush off product recalls if the item they own seems safe or not defective, but this is where things can go very wrong. It's so important to take every single product recall seriously, since there's no way of knowing if the one YOU own is going to give out. Here's what to do when a product you own is recalled.
How does a product recall get issued?
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Obviously, before a product is released for sale to the public, it undergoes several rounds of safety and durability testing to make sure it works as advertised when used as directed. Instructions or warnings about use are developed for the product, and included when a consumer purchases the product. But even when a product undergoes several rounds of testing, things can slip through the cracks. Additionally, as is the case with some product recalls, misuse or not using the product as intended or instructed can lead to safety issues or health hazards.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the government entity in charge of monitoring product defects and reports of injuries or potential injurious flaws with a product. They either hear from the company itself when a flaw is discovered, or learn of an issue from consumer reports or the media. Once a product is deemed hazardous or potentially harmful to consumers, the company that makes the product is actually in charge of issuing the recall. Sometimes they do it voluntarily; other times, the CPSC has to involve the legal system and get a court-order to force a recall. That scenario is actually pretty rare, as most companies want to nip these things in the bud as soon as possible to avoid litigation.
How do you know if a product you own has been recalled?
Product recalls, particularly those concerning food or baby products, typically make the national news. Most parents will hear about a recall on the news or through social media. The CPSC will also issue a press release after a recall has been initiated, and post the details on their website. In some cases, companies will get out in front of the potentially negative publicity and contact customers in advance of a recall going public. The company will typically have a toll-free number consumers can call to check if their product is part of the recall, and will share the information on their website. Some stores that carry the product may also notify consumers about recalls, both in store and on their website.
What should you do if a product you own is recalled?
In a nutshell? Follow the recall instructions! Listen, companies don't issue product recalls willy-nilly. They issue them because they have discovered a flaw in their product that could put you or your children in danger. Or, they issue them because they've already received reports of injuries and/or death associated with use of their product. In some cases, those injuries are the result of misuse or not using the product as directed, yes. But do we really want to chance it when it comes to our kids? Check your product against the list of serial numbers or product numbers that are being recalled, contact the company or store where you purchased it, and return your potentially defective item. Companies aren't going to leave you on the hook for that financial loss - they will offer a refund, store credit, or exchange for a similar product, no questions asked. In many cases, you don't even have to have proof of purchase.
If a product you own is recalled, return it per the instructions issued by the company or store, and find a different product that won't endanger your children. It's just not worth the risk.
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