Surviving a product recall

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					                                  DAMAGE
                                  CONTROL           Surviving a product recall
                                                    By GARy JAMES




    Note: Information in this article is intended
    for general educational purposes.
    Consult with your own legal counsel or
    product safety adviser for specific
    guidance related to your company.


|   26   BedTimes February 2012                                            www.bedtimesmagazine.com
                                  When mattresses need to be pulled from
                                    consumers’ homes and repaired or destroyed because
                                       of safety concerns, the process is called a “recall.”
                                         But for the companies involved, it’s an experience
                                           they would rather forget.
                                                          A product recall can be an expensive, labor-intensive process, con-
                                                         suming staff and management time as companies scramble to deter-
                                                          mine exactly what products are affected, where they’ve been shipped
                                                            and how to contact all the consumers who are using them. The
                                                             process requires an “all-hands-on-deck” approach so that every
                                                             stakeholder—anyone involved with producing, selling or using the
                                                              product—is informed about the defect and the company’s plan to
                                                              remedy the situation.
                                                                  In addition, the process of conducting a product recall exposes
                                                               a company to increased scrutiny from the U.S. Consumer Product
                                                               Safety Commission—the federal agency charged with protecting
                                                               the public from harm caused by certain consumer products—as
                                                              well as the media and consumers. Handled incorrectly, a recall
                                                             can result in damaged supplier and retailer relationships and a tar-
                                                            nished brand image that may be difficult to correct. And the legal
                                                           stakes of a misstep are higher than ever.
                                                             “With the enactment of the Consumer Product Safety Improve-
                                                       ment Act of 2008, the amount of penalties the CPSC is permitted to
                                                      seek has been raised substantially—to $100,000 per violation, with the
                                                    maximum penalties raised to $15 million for a related series of viola-
                                                  tions,” says Cheryl Possenti, an attorney with Goldberg Segalla in Buffalo,
                                               N.Y., a civil litigation specialist for a number of Fortune 100 companies.
                                               According to Possenti, the CPSC can pursue civil penalties, not only for the
                                         sale of products that violate government safety standards, but also “when a compa-
                                      ny fails to report immediately to the CPSC that a product contains a defect that could
                                   create a substantial risk of injury to the public.”
                                  In the mattress industry, there are two primary federal regulations under which bed sets
                            might be recalled: 16 CFR Part 1633, the open-flame standard that took effect in 2007; and 16
                        CFR Part 1632, the cigarette flammability standard issued in 1973. According to the CPSC website,
                     fewer than a dozen recalls involving mattresses or mattress pads have been conducted in the past 10
                     years, a relatively small number compared with many other industries. Baby mattresses and pads also
                     are occasionally recalled under different regulations.
                        Despite the low frequency of mattress-related recalls, manufacturers and their business partners—
                     everyone from component suppliers to distributors to retailers—must be vigilant to ensure that if
                     problems with product safety do occur, they are reported to the CPSC quickly and that any issues are
                     addressed and fixed.

www.bedtimesmagazine.com                                                                                  February 2012 BedTimes   27 |
                                  R
                                             eporting responsibility                              responsibility for making sure the products it sells in the
                                             While U.S. manufacturers have the lead respon-       United States comply with regulations and for conducting
                                             sibility for reporting problems to the CPSC,         a recall if they don’t.
                                             distributors and retailers also must report if           To confirm that manufacturers and importers have the
                                  they are aware of a product defect or a company’s failure       necessary safety programs in place, the CPSC conducts
                                  to comply with a regulation. They can either contact the        unannounced inspections of production plants and
                                  CPSC directly or send a letter to the manufacturer or im-       warehouses, examining products, records and procedures.
                                  porter. Failure to report means distributors and retailers      It also can pull products from retailers to test for compli-
                                  also may be liable for any legal penalties that are assessed.   ance.
                                      In cases in which mattresses and foundations are be-            The process of compliance starts with burn testing and
                                  ing brought into the United States from other countries,        confirmation burns of bedding prototypes and compo-
                                  the importer of record—the U.S.-based company that              nents by manufacturers, importers and suppliers before
                                  takes possession of the goods after they clear customs—is       new mattresses and foundations reach the market. All bed
                                  responsible for informing the CPSC of potential prod-           sets sold in the United States must bear a label showing
                                  uct safety problems. This company ultimately bears the          that products have been properly tested and comply with




    The mattress recall process at a glance
    Who must report a hazardous product? Any manufacturer,                        documenting all of the product and component tests
    distributor, importer or retailer that has information about a                required for a given product, companies should have a
    potentially hazardous product must report it, according to                    system in place to make sure that product defect and
    the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.                                  hazard information is captured and channeled to respon-
                                                                                  sible managers so that they can evaluate and report it to
    What types of defects must be reported? Companies must                        the CPSC, if appropriate. A company also should assign
    report to the CPSC if they obtain information that a prod-                    the responsibility of reporting product safety hazards to
    uct fails to meet a consumer product safety rule, standard                    someone with knowledge of the product in question and of
    or ban; contains a defect that could create a substantial                     the CPSC’s reporting requirements. The person should have
    hazard; or creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or                  the authority to report to the CPSC or to quickly raise the
    death. This information may be in the form of quality con-                    reporting issue with appropriate decision-makers within the
    trol data, product returns, warranty information, customer                    company.
    complaints, reports of deaths or injuries to consumers using
    a product, lawsuits or any other input suggesting a product                   How will the CPSC evaluate a company’s handling of
    safety problem.                                                               safety information? In evaluating when a report should
                                                                                  have been filed, the CPSC considers what a company actu-
    When does a company need to report a hazardous prod-                          ally knew about the potential hazard posed by a product
    uct? A company must report to the CPSC within 24 hours of                     and what a reasonable person or firm acting in those
    obtaining reportable information. The CPSC considers that                     circumstances would have known. Companies that are not
    a company has obtained knowledge of reportable informa-                       responsible and informed about the safety of their prod-
    tion when that information is received by an employee or                      ucts run a “great risk of future civil penalty liability” should a
    official of the company who may be reasonably expected                        product recall ever be necessary, according to the CPSC.
    to be capable of appreciating its significance. Under ordi-
    nary circumstances, five working days is the maximum time                     What is the Fast Track program? Fast Track is a CPSC
    for information to reach the chief executive officer or the                   program designed for companies willing and able to
    official assigned responsibility for complying with reporting                 move quickly with a voluntary recall of their products. The
    requirements. However, if a company is uncertain whether                      program eliminates some of the procedural steps in the
    information must be reported, it may spend “a reasonable                      traditional recall process, including the CPSC’s preliminary
    amount of time” investigating the matter. The CPSC gener-                     determination that the product contains a defect that pres-
    ally defines this period as 10 or fewer days.                                 ents a substantial hazard.

    Where should a report be filed? A company should file its                     What is a CAP? A CAP, or “corrective action plan,” is a re-
    report with the CPSC’s Division of Recalls and Compliance.                    medial action taken by a company in response to a product
    The report may be filed by mail (4330 East West Highway,                      defect or risk. Depending on the nature of the defect or risk,
    Room 613, Bethesda, MD 20814), telephone                                      CAPs could include the return of a product to the manufac-
    (301-504-7913), fax (301-504-0359) or electronically                          turer or retailer for a cash refund or a replacement product,
    through the CPSC website (www.cpsc.gov).                                      the repair of a product or public notice of the hazard. The
                                                                                  goal of a CAP is to correct as many product defects or risks
    What can a company do beforehand to prepare for a                             as possible in the most practical, cost-effective manner.
    product recall? In addition to performing and thoroughly
                                                                                  Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission




|   28   BedTimes February 2012                                                                                                     www.bedtimesmagazine.com
                                  federal regulations.                                             an attorney with Goldberg Segalla. “One trigger is the
                                      Accurate labeling is the first line of defense against       subjective standard: a defect in the product that poses a
                                  a potential product defect investigation, according to           substantial risk of serious injury or death. The other is
                                  Joanne E. Mattiace, a principal of the Law Offices of            more objective: three lawsuits involving a product that
Accurate                          Joanne E. Mattiace, a Westbrook, Maine-based law firm            have resulted in verdicts or settlements, no matter how
                                  with a Washington, D.C., presence and focus.                     nominal, within a two-year period.”
labeling is


                                                                                                   W
                                      “If a label doesn’t appear to be right, that may lead to a
                                  product being singled out for inspection and testing,” she                         orking with the CPSC
the first line                    says.                                                                              Reporting a product to the CPSC doesn’t
of defense                            To avoid problems, Mattiace recommends that all par-
                                  ties in the distribution chain—manufacturers, importers,
                                                                                                                     automatically mean that the agency will
                                                                                                                     conclude that the product creates a sub-
against a                         distributors, retailers—make sure that the products they         stantial hazard or that a recall or other corrective action
                                  are selling carry up-to-date safety law labels and registra-     is necessary. The CPSC staff works with the reporting
potential                         tion numbers.                                                    company to determine what’s appropriate. But since
                                      When a company has reason to suspect a product               2008, the CPSC has taken a more active role in product
product                           may pose a risk to public safety, the law requires it to file    safety inspection and enforcement.
                                  a report with the CPSC within 24 hours of a responsible              “Since the passage of the CPSIA, the CPSC has gotten
defect                            party—an official or employee capable of recognizing its         a lot more sophisticated,” Mattiace says. “They are saying
                                  significance—receiving the information. Prior to that            to companies, ‘Don’t just tell us about a problem; take a
investigation.                    point, the company is allowed five days for that informa-        look at the problem and determine what you can learn
                                  tion to move up the chain of command. A maximum of               from it.’ They want companies to constantly be fine-
                                  10 days is permitted for investigating the situation prior       tuning their systems and procedures so that future prob-
                                  to filing a report.                                              lems are minimized.”
                                      “A lot of companies won’t recognize a triggering event           If a recall is needed, the CPSC works with the com-
                                  for a violation right away,” says David Osterman, also           pany to put together an effective plan for public notifica-




     One mattress maker’s recall experience
    W
                   hen a bedding manufacturer discovered a 16                         The company also made early contact with the U.S. Con-
                   CFR Part 1633 burn test failure during a routine                sumer Product Safety Commission to alert officials about the
                   quality control check involving one of its popular              problem and the steps being taken to address it.
                   mattresses several years ago, the company im-                      “The CPSC was very helpful,” the bedding executive says.
    mediately initiated an investigation.                                          “They worked closely with us every step of the way, approving
        The company spoke with BedTimes about its experiences                      our plan for conducting a recall and providing other support
    but asked not to be identified.                                                as we moved forward.”
        After conducting re-tests with similar products from multi-                   Using its existing product traceability systems, the com-
    ple plants, it determined that a problem existed with a specific               pany determined that the core-sock combination in ques-
    core-FR sock combination used on one mattress model during                     tion had been used on nearly 6,000 beds already produced,
    a limited time frame. The problem was sporadic—sometimes                       shipped or sold. The company’s records showed exactly
    the mattress would fail a burn test and other times it would                   which stores had bought the beds, so contacting deal-
    pass. It also was puzzling: Both the core and the sock were                    ers was straightforward. Identifying individual consumers,
    being used separately on other mattress models without a                       however, was more of a challenge, since some stores had
    problem.                                                                       detailed records and others did not.
        “It was very alarming,” says a company executive directly                     “Tracking down consumers isn’t easy, so we made sure
    involved with the recall. “None of our records until that point                to use redundant methods of communication to spread
    had indicated a problem. And neither of the suppliers re-                      the word,” the bedding executive says. In addition to news
    sponsible for these components claimed they had made any                       releases sent to the media and posted on the CPSC web-
    changes. But there clearly was a danger when these two spe-                    site, the company asked retailers to post notices. Using an
    cific components were combined. We knew we had to move                         outside specialist, a hotline was set up to field consumer
    quickly to address the situation.”                                             inquiries.
        The company immediately stopped production of the                             For those consumers who could be identified as potentially
    model with the troublesome core-sock combination. It also                      being affected, the company created a letter for retailers
    started tracing how many of the mattresses already had been                    to send out explaining that the product “has a manufactur-
    made and where they had been shipped. A team was cre-                          ing defect, does not meet our standards and qualifies for a
    ated to determine what other corrective actions needed to be                   replacement.” The letter invited consumers to contact the
    taken and which parties—from suppliers and employees to                        retailer for further information.
    retailers and consumers—needed to be notified.                                    The fact that the core-sock combination was designed to



|   30   BedTimes February 2012                                                                                                      www.bedtimesmagazine.com
tion and implementation of the recall. According to the           companies maintain accurate records about the design,         ‘At all times,
CPSC’s Recall Handbook, the objectives of a recall are:           production, distribution and marketing of each product
    1. to locate all defective products as quickly as possible    for the duration of its expected life cycle. To make sure     consumers,
    2. to remove defective products from the distribution         that these records are accurate and accessible at the time
    chain and from the possession of consumers                    of a recall, the CPSC recommends companies appoint a          the media
    3. to communicate accurate and understandable in-             recall coordinator, as well as a backup coordinator, before
    formation in a timely manner to the public about the          an event actually occurs.
                                                                                                                                and
    product defect, the hazard and the corrective action.
    The CPSC advises companies to design all informa-
                                                                      A company’s recall coordinator should be responsible
                                                                  for receiving and processing all information regarding
                                                                                                                                regulators
tional material “to motivate retailers and the media to get       the safety of the company’s products, including quality       need to see
the word out and consumers to act on the recall.” Typical         control records, engineering analyses, test results, con-
forms of communication include a joint press release              sumer complaints, warranty returns or claims, lawsuits        that the
from the CPSC and the company; a dedicated toll-free              and insurance claims. Ideally, the recall coordinator has
number for consumers to call to respond to the recall no-         full authority to take the steps necessary to initiate and    company has
tice; postings on company websites; video news releases;          implement all recalls, with the approval and support of
notices to distributors, dealers, sales representatives,          the president or chief executive officer.                     a clear plan


                                                                  G
retailers and other parties involved with the product; and
other notices to consumers.                                                      etting help
                                                                                                                                in place and
    “Companies need to communicate clearly and com-
pletely,” Mattiace says. “It’s important that messages be
                                                                                 When faced with a recall, company execu-
                                                                                 tives have two choices: They can do the work
                                                                                                                                is doing
consistent so that consumers understand the nature of                            themselves, following the steps outlined in    everything it
the problem and what their options are.”                          the CPSC’s online Recall Handbook, or they can hire an at-
    Because the goal of any recall is to retrieve and then        torney or other adviser, such as ExpertRECALL. Based in       can to make
repair or replace products already in consumers’ hands,           Indianapolis, ExpertRECALL handles everything involved
as well as those in the distribution chain, it’s essential that   in a recall, from setting up a call center and managing       things right.’

  be easily zipped on or off the mattress made the recall easier                 up to repair or replace it all. Thankfully, we weren’t required
  than it might have been. For those products still in factory or                to start taking back product right away so we had time to
  store warehouses, the company was able to simply swap out                      build up a stock of replacement covers.”
  the core-sock combination with another approved sock.                              It took about four months between the time the com-
     The company offered consumers three, free-of-charge op-                     pany discovered the problem and when it started replacing
  tions: They could get a replacement kit mailed directly to them                product.
  for self-installation, they could arrange for a technician to                      Reflecting on the recall experience, the executive says
  come to their home to install the kit for them or the company                  everything went smoothly. For that, he credits good organi-
                                                                                 zation, teamwork and clear communication with the CPSC
                                                                                 and other outside parties.
   ‘Consumers ended up with a                                                         “The CPSC was very complimentary about our attitude
                                                                                 and attention to detail in dealing with this recall,” the com-
   positive attitude about our company                                           pany official says.
                                                                                     In addition, he says, “consumers ended up with a posi-
   because we offered to customize                                               tive attitude about our company because we offered to
   the corrective action.’                                                       customize the corrective action for them and make it as
                                                                                 painless and easy as possible.”
                                                                                     For other companies faced with a possible recall, the ex-
  would take back their mattress and give them a new version.                    ecutive says his best advice is “to follow the law, keep good
     During the first week the recall was made public, the                       records and bring in consultants when it’s appropriate.”
  company received 202 contacts from consumers. After a                          In this case, the company hired Gordon Damant, former
  year, a total of 1,222 consumers called or wrote the com-                      head of the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and
  pany to inquire whether the recall affected them. Serial                       Thermal Insulation and an expert on the mattress industry’s
  numbers were used to determine if particular products were                     fire safety issues, “because we wanted an outside source to
  part of the recall.                                                            make sure we were analyzing the problem correctly. Having
     In the end, the company received fewer than 600 verified                    him involved also gave us more credibility with the CPSC.”
  consumer claims under the recall. Of those, 285 were sent                          “We also would suggest, in addition to the required
  a kit for self-installation, 260 were sent a kit for installation              prototype and confirmation burns, that companies do
  by a technician and 26 received a replacement mattress.                        random burns on all their models periodically to make sure
     “The CPSC says that about 20% of the product affected                       everything is still in compliance,” the executive says. “That’s
  by a typical recall comes back and gets changed out,” says                     how we discovered this problem and were able to correct it
  the company representative. “But you have to be geared                         before it became much larger.”


www.bedtimesmagazine.com                                                                                                        February 2012 BedTimes   31 |
                                  claims to collecting and destroying products after they’re      product safety compliance as a “moving target” that
                                  returned. Since its formation in 2003, the company has          requires daily attention.
                                  handled more than 2,500 recalls.                                    “A compliance program needs to be more than a
                                      With any recall, there are four key goals, says Mike        binder on a shelf collecting dust,” he says. “It has to be
                                  Rozembajgier, ExpertRECALL vice president of recalls:           something that the whole company understands and puts
                                  “Protect the public, protect the brand, remove and de-          into practice so that all rules and standards are met.”
                                  stroy the product, if necessary, and complete the process           To help companies ensure that they have the proper
                                  as efficiently as possible. And, at all times, consumers, the   systems in place, firms such as Lilly Management Group
                                  media and regulators need to see that the company has a         in St. Charles, Ill., conduct mock CPSC plant inspections
                                  clear plan in place and is doing everything it can to make      and reviews of flammability compliance programs.
                                  things right.”                                                      “Our program is designed to help companies evaluate
                                      Finally, Rozembajgier urges company leaders to regard       their compliance status, identify shortcomings or gaps




    Crisis planning requires good communication

    W
                   hen faced with a possible product recall, too                  5. Use all available communication channels It is “absolutely
                   many company executives “play ostrich” rather                  essential,” Bernstein says, for companies to establish notifica-
                   than take decisive action and communicate with                 tion systems that will allow them to rapidly reach stakeholders
                   all stakeholders, says Jonathan Bernstein, presi-              using multiple channels, including phone, email and fax. This
    dent of Bernstein Crisis Management in Sierra Madre, Calif.                   increases the odds that a message will get through. “It’s better
       “They wait until the recall is required and then try to figure             to over-communicate than take the risk that important stake-
    out what to do, resulting in additional risk for consumers and                holders miss the message,” he says.
    the company’s reputation,” Bernstein says.
                                                                                  6. Consider the use of “virtual” incident management There
       The author of the new book, Manager’s Guide to Crisis
                                                                                  are a number of Internet-based systems that allow recall team
    Management, Bernstein has handled communications for a
                                                                                  members to exchange real-time information, access current
    number of major product recalls. He offers these 10 tips for
                                                                                  communications documents and keep team leaders updated,
    effective crisis communications:
                                                                                  even if they are geographically scattered.
    1. Be prepared The best time to prepare for a negative event
                                                                                  7. Identify backups for critical people and systems “Assume
    is before it happens. Bernstein recommends that companies
                                                                                  that some recall-related lead personnel will not be available
    conduct brainstorming sessions about potential recalls and
                                                                                  when you need them,” Bernstein says. “Assume that the com-
    then develop a clear plan of response that addresses key
                                                                                  puter system where you maintain your stakeholder contact lists
    operational, legal and public relations issues.
                                                                                  might crash. Assume other similar worst-case scenarios and
    2. Appoint and train a team A small team of senior execu-                     make backup plans accordingly.”
    tives should be formed and trained to manage communica-
                                                                                  8. Make decisions based on protecting the brand, not just
    tions in the event of a crisis. Ideally, the team is led by the
                                                                                  the legal risks The infamous Bridgestone-Firestone tire recall
    president or chief executive officer, along with the company’s
                                                                                  in 2000 started “far too late because the company’s lead-
    top PR executive and legal counsel as advisers. If the in-house
                                                                                  ership was considering risks other than the most important
    PR executive doesn’t have sufficient crisis communications
                                                                                  one—the risk of aggravating the court of public opinion,”
    expertise, the company may need to retain an agency or
                                                                                  Bernstein says.
    independent consultant. Other team members should be the
    heads of all major divisions, such as finance, human resources                9. Focus communications A few angry people can make
    and operations.                                                               waves completely disproportionate to their numbers or even
                                                                                  to the injury suffered. The recall process should include an
    3. Create contact lists Who are the stakeholders—employees,
                                                                                  “escalated cases” team to focus on such complaints.
    suppliers, distributors, retailers, etc.—who would be affected
    by a recall? Company leaders must ensure that a system is in                  10. Take responsibility Public backlash over a recall can
    place so that all stakeholders can be reached quickly in the                  occur for two reasons, Bernstein says: Distress that a prod-
    event of a recall.                                                            uct is defective and distress over the manner in which the
                                                                                  recall was—or wasn’t—communicated. “you minimize public
    4. Empower all employees with accurate information During
                                                                                  backlash by being proactive and transparent,” he says. And
    a crisis, employees are PR representatives—whether a com-
                                                                                  don’t wait for regulating agencies, such as the CPSC (U.S.
    pany wants them to be or not. “Don’t try to control damage
                                                                                  Consumer Product Safety Commission), to get involved before
    by restricting the flow of information internally,” Bernstein says.
                                                                                  communicating. “Bureaucratic processes can often delay
    “Be sure every member of your organization is equipped with
                                                                                  how much time passes before distributors and consumers are
    the information necessary to represent the situation accurate-
                                                                                  notified—a delay which, in worst-case scenarios, can cause
    ly to anyone who asks.”
                                                                                  injuries or deaths,” Bernstein says.



|   32   BedTimes February 2012                                                                                                    www.bedtimesmagazine.com
n    RESOURCES                    in their program and then resolve those issues,” says Bob    CPSC and will be in a position to remedy the situation
U.S. Consumer
                                  Sabalaskey, Lilly Management Group vice president of         with minimal impact,” she says. “You may end up recall-
Product Safety
                                  manufacturing and product engineering. “It provides          ing just one out of 10 products, say just the queen-size
Commission
                                  mattress manufacturers with a ‘real-world’ inspection        models, rather than 10 out of 10.”
Main site
                                  experience and the opportunity to assess their FR compli-        Unlike toys and other smaller, less expensive
www.cpsc.gov
                                  ance readiness prior to an inspection by the CPSC.”          items, a bedding set is a relatively pricey item that’s
To download the
                                      As part of that readiness, it’s critical that mattress   typically difficult to fix.
CPSC’s Recall
                                  manufacturers “keep complete, organized records that             “That makes the cost of a recall higher, since
Handbook
                                  show they meet federal standards,” Sabalaskey says. “And     the product typically has to move quickly out of
www.cpsc.gov/
                                  when they modify a product’s materials or construction,      the distribution chain and a replacement needs to
businfo/8002.html
                                  they need to provide ‘reasonable criteria’ data that dem-    be made,” Possenti says. “A mattress also has a long
CPSC’s consumer
                                  onstrate changes made to that model will not affect FR       life span, which means there’s a longer period of
database for reporting
                                  performance of that model.”                                  liability.”
unsafe products
                                      A company with a consistent, well-designed program           In the end, a company with a strong compliance
www.saferproducts.gov
                                  of testing, monitoring and record keeping is in the best     program will be in the best position to ensure prod-
                                  position to deal with any complaints that may arise, Pos-    uct safety and avoid a possible recall.
Goldberg Segalla                  senti says.                                                      As Possenti concludes, “The best-managed recall
Law firm with offices                 “That company will have the most credibility with the    is the one that never occurs.” n
in Connecticut, New
Jersey, New York
and Pennsylvania
that specializes in
litigation and serves
as trial attorneys for a
                                  Consumer website bears watching
                                  Companies should monitor reports their about products


                                  W
number of Fortune 100
companies.                                         hile formal recalls of mattresses and foundations are rare, a new government website
www.goldberg                                       launched in 2011 invites any consumers who believe they were harmed by a consumer
segalla.com                                        product regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to report their com-
                                                   plaints for posting on the site.
The Law Offices of
                                      Required as part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the website,
Joanne Mattiace
                                  www.saferproducts.gov, provides a publicly accessible, searchable database of all such incident reports.
Law firm based in
                                  Among the consumer product categories listed are mattresses, covers and pillows.
Westbrook, Maine, that
                                      Consumers submitting reports are not required to provide any proof to support the alleged inci-
specializes in helping
                                  dents. Instead, consumers are asked to “click” on a button verifying that the information is accurate to
corporate clients
                                  the best of their knowledge. Consumers are asked to disclose their identities to the CPSC, but they can
meet product safety
                                  choose whether the CPSC, in turn, may disclose their identity to the company that made, imported or
requirements and
                                  sold the product.
standards.
                                      Manufacturers, importers and private-labelers mentioned in these reports receive copies of the claims
www.productsafety
                                  prior to posting. They then have 10 days to challenge the accuracy of the report, after which time the report
law.net
                                  will be posted on saferproducts.gov unless the CPSC finds it contains confidential or inaccurate informa-
ExpertRECALL                      tion. If a decision is made to post the report, it is accompanied by the manufacturer’s written response.
Indianapolis-based                    “Producers must be prepared to respond quickly to these notifications,” says Cheryl Possenti, an attorney
company that helps                with Goldberg Segalla in Buffalo, N.y. “Otherwise, they risk an untrue or misleading accusation being posted
businesses manage                 for all to see.”
the various aspects of                Though reported in news media, including BedTimes, many companies are unaware that this database
a product recall.                 exists, Possenti says.
www.expertrecall.com                  “They find out only after a complaint has already been posted and the damage to their image has been
                                  done,” she says.
Lilly Management                      Possenti says it’s critical that all producers take the time to register on the site so that the CPSC has cur-
Group                             rent contact information in the event of a complaint. Without that information, the CPSC’s notification may
Consulting firm based             not reach a company in time for it to respond to the complaint prior to its public posting.
in St. Charles, Ill., that,           The seriousness with which companies treat these claims varies greatly, says attorney David Osterman,
among other things,               also with Goldberg Segalla.
helps mattress makers                  “Brand-sensitive companies with strong consumer recognition will want to be very engaged so that er-
comply with federal               roneous claims aren’t put into the public domain,” he says. “And, if the claim is legitimate, it’s important to
safety standards.                 file a timely response so that the public knows how you’ve handled the problem and can be assured that it’s
www.lilly                         no longer an issue.”
management.com                        At the very least, companies need to be aware that a report has been received by the CPSC, he says:
                                  “That way, they can consider its merits and decide whether they want to respond or not.”



|   34   BedTimes February 2012                                                                                                www.bedtimesmagazine.com

				
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