We have all seen the increased use of the Website saferproducts.gov to publicize and help correlate complaints against consumer products. We have also seen manufacturers hamstrung by the limited options for replying to often unfounded complaints which are on display for the Plaintiff's Bar and class action lawyers to see. This system for reporting and publicity were created by the CPSIA to much fanfare and some dread.
In action, the website has been a mixed bag, often driven by the exaggerations of angry consumers. We have been successful in challenging exaggerated and unfair claims- keeping them off the site. Frankly the website comments in Amazon and Costco are often worse and totally unfiltered.
Now the CPSC is starting round two! In a February 11 posting, they are seeking comments to "improve" the website. They will hold a public hearing on March 6th, 2019 with full written comments due by April 3.
It is hard to know how this will all turn out. It seems hard to believe that CPSC won't make it easier to complain and harder for manufacturers to defend their products. With a 3-2 Republican majority for the first time in years, things may improve for manufacturers.
CPSC requests comments and suggestions to improve the usability of the website. In particular, CPSC seeks comments on the following topics:
Want to comment? Get your written statements in to the CPSC Secretary's office by April 3, 2019. I'll let you know how it all shakes out.
- How can the overall design of SaferProducts.gov be improved?
- Have you attempted to visit SaferProducts.gov using a mobile device? What suggestions would you have to make that experience better?
- Please describe any problems you encountered when using SaferProducts.gov. Please be as specific as possible.
- How can the process of reporting on SaferProducts.gov be improved?
- How can the instructions for submitting a report be improved?
- Business users: How can the processes of registering, accessing, and responding to reports of products or other substances CPSC regulates on SaferProducts.gov be improved?
- How can searching for recalls and reports on the website be improved?
- What other information would be useful to publish or provide with the recall and incident report data?
- Have you encountered any difficulty attempting to upload photos or videos with a report you may have submitted? Please describe what happened.
- If CPSC were to create a data visualization tool to help consumers and businesses better understand the data captured through SaferProducts.gov, would that kind of tool be useful to you?
- Currently, submitters of information to the website must check a box to consent to CPSC publishing their report on the website. CPSC is exploring whether this extra step in the submission process may decrease the number of published reports. CPSC is considering whether to move to a pre-checked box where permission to publish is granted by the submitter automatically unless the submitter explicitly opts out by checking a box. CPSC staff believes this could increase the number of published reports and increase awareness of potentially unsafe products. The reports that CPSC publishes on Saferproducts.gov are prohibited by law from including personal information, such as name, address, and contact information. Do you have suggestions or concerns about making this change?
- Given the growth of online retail sales since the launch of SaferProducts.gov and that online retail sales platforms usually include an ability for consumers to provide a product rating or other feedback, how might CPSC motivate the provision of safety-related feedback to SaferProducts.gov as a primary, or at least additional, mechanism for capturing information on consumer product-related incidents?
- How can CPSC encourage the use of SaferProducts.gov among eligible reporters other than consumers, such as physicians, medical examiners, and first responders?