Showing posts with label Recalls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recalls. Show all posts

July 16, 2021

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) filed an administrative complaint against, on July 14 2021 to force it to recall certain consumer products

The CPSC does not actually have the ability to "force" a US company to undertake a "voluntary recall". The vast majority of CPSC recalls are basically undertaken voluntarily. The degree of how voluntary or involuntary they are often depends on the nature of the safety problem, how widespread it is and also on the size of the company. Again in the vast majority of cases, such as recently with Peloton, the company relents and agrees to conduct a "voluntary" recall under the control of CPSC. In some cases however the CPSC either has to back down and accept what remediation and notification that has been done, or like in this case with Amazon, it literally has to sue Amazon to "force" it to recall the products under CPSC guidelines with the CPSC calling the shots (as usual) on the specifics of how the notifications will be sent out, what they say, the remedies etc.  The suit itself is quite a good read (and educational) and details the position the CPSC is asserting on Amazon's role in the sales and returns process and why it should be forced to undertake the recall (not the overseas manufacturers which the CPSC has no control over). Its quite an eyeopener. This is nothing short of extraordinary for the CPSC to do and again it only does so in egregious situations where it is quite certain a judge will agree with its findings. 

Obviously we would never counsel any of our clients to take such a step unless there were good reasons not to conduct a recall, but of course if that was the case the CPSC would not likely be suing the company. We always recommend cooperating with the CPSC (but only through counsel) if you plan on conducting a recall for a host of related legal reasons. It will be interesting to watch this suit play out. No doubt the CPSC felt emboldened by a number of recent court decisions like this one in California holding Amazon legally responsible for the distribution of allegedly defective products.

Law Offices of Steven W. Hansen | | 562 866 6228 © Copyright 1996-2020 Conditions of Use

June 2, 2010

Notification issues in CPSC consumer product recalls

This was a recent article on CPSC recalls that I was interviewed for. Given the last few recalls I have done with the CPSC it seems that the CPSC is overwhelmed with recalls right now mostly related to companies worried about lead content problems under the new law.

Reprinted with Permission of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News

Campaign: Shortfalls in Recall Process


SAN JOSE, CA—Eighteen months after recalling 40,000 Keo pedals in the U.S., Look Cycle USA feels too many cyclists are still riding the potentially faulty product. In response, it’s hatching a second dealer-focused effort to repair or upgrade the remaining pedals.

“We noticed a lot of our dealers have forgotten or didn’t take it seriously because there have been some people who have experienced failures who have taken [their bike] to the shop numerous times since then, and some of those were our dealers that we’ve sent the notification to and they didn’t inform the customer,” said Chas Belden, operations and supply chain manager for Look Cycle USA.

The French company voluntarily recalled the road pedals in August 2008 due to a steel axle inside the pedal that could break. At that time, it followed Consumer Product Safety Commission recall protocol including sending notices to dealers, issuing a joint press release through the CPSC, posting a notice on its Web site and providing a free fix for the axle. Look also sent regular audit reports to the CPSC with updates on its progress.

Six months later, satisfied with the process, the CPSC closed the recall.

But since then, Look has received 10 to 15 reports of pedals breaking and Thierry Fournier, Look’s chief executive officer in France, estimates only about 35 percent of the pedals in the U.S. were returned.

In April, Look sent letters to its dealer base along with a POP countertop display explaining how to identify the affected classic, spring and carbon pedals. It also ran an ad in Bicycling to reach out to consumers.

“Look is probably the strongest pedal brand in the market and that means a lot to us. We want our customers to be 100 percent satisfied,” Belden said. Not only is the brand’s image at stake if the pedals stay on the market, but there are liability concerns as well, both from the manufacturer and retail side.

Product liability attorney Steven W. Hansen said Look’s low response rate is not uncommon in the industry; he estimates that most recalls get no more than a 30 to 60 percent return rate. Recall effectiveness is particularly a problem after the CPSC has deemed the recall satisfied due to the high number of recalls in recent years, as well as the volume of service jobs moving through shops.
“I’ve got a bad feeling that with most bikes that come in for generic tune-ups or repairs, there’s not much thought given to recalls, especially those issued more than six months ago,” Hansen said.

That’s a problem if a consumer gets injured on a recalled product and names the retailer in a lawsuit. If the attorney can prove the retailer knew about the recall before the injury and saw the customer’s bike but didn’t fix the problem, the shop could be liable.

Darin Kendall, part owner of the five-store Bingham Cyclery chain in Utah, knows what it’s like to be on the losing side of a product liability case. Over 45 years in business, his insurance company has had to pay out on an injury case more than once despite the fact that the shop followed the manufacturer’s instructions.

With computers, it’s gotten easier to notify customers of a recall, but staying current on recalls at all five shops—especially those from brands the shop doesn’t carry—remains one of the most difficult and time consuming parts of Kendall’s job.

“It’s so maddening. It’s not making me money; it’s losing me money. It’s something you have to do because if you don’t it’s going to come back and bite you,” Kendall said.

Kendall said he follows through on instructions given to him by a manufacturer for every recall done through the CPSC, and has his staff watch for product coming through the doors that were part of larger, more significant recalls. He’s still swapping out cranksets that were part of a Shimano recall more than a decade ago.

Industry-wide, he suspects many recalls go by the wayside because of high turnover rate of mechanics and low wages paid in service shops.

“Most of the mechanics out there couldn’t spot a single one of those recalls. Stuff sneaks through the cracks all the time. It is scary,” he said.

Hiring experienced mechanics has helped Adams Avenue Bicycles in San Diego stay on top of recalls and other product defects, said Greg Burchell, service department manager.

Often, his mechanics end up notifying a manufacturer about a failure they’ve seen consistently while working on bikes, but that hasn’t yet been recalled, he said.

“A lot of times if someone has been doing it a year to two years, they’re probably not going to catch that,” Burchell said, adding that staying in good communication with suppliers also helps when dealing with recalls.

Look’s Belden hopes the brand’s retailers can use the renewed blitz to their benefit.

“Our dealers have a lot of long-term customers, but it helps bring new people into their shop as well. We have on our Web site something that says, ‘For your axle upgrade, go to this dealer.’ It drives people into the shop that may not go in there otherwise,” Belden said.

Law Offices of Steven W. Hansen | | 562 866 6228 © Copyright 1996-2008 Conditions of Use

July 19, 2009

Manufacturers Cope With Aftermath of Highly Public And Costly Product Recalls

(repreinted with permission from page 1 of July 15, 2009 edition of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News)


HAVERHILL, MA—Product recalls are time-consuming, costly and can eat away at a bike brand’s reputation in the marketplace unless they’re resolved thoroughly and quickly. And even when a manufacturer goes through the whole process, that’s not to say that they’re completely out of the water.

Case in point: Mavic’s recall of about 12,000 of its R-Sys front wheels earlier this year. Though Mavic took action and replaced the flawed product, a firsthand crash report by VeloNews editor-in-chief Ben Delaney while racing on Mavic’s second-generation, post-recall carbon-spoke R-Sys wheels has drawn quite a few eyeballs and cast a new web of doubt the company is working to clear up.

We are in the process of doing as complete of an investigation as possible,” said Mark Leydecker, managing director for Mavic. “Shortly after the crash we had people over here from France to investigate every aspect of this event. They have inspected the wheel and published a preliminary re sponse on VeloNews. We have requested to have some of the other non-Mavic products involved in this event be sent to a third party testing facility. To say we are taking this very seriously would be a gross understatement, however, we aren’t going to jump to conclusions, nor will we react hastily,” Leydecker added.

Besides following up on the crash incident, Mavic now also faces some skepticism from retailers who feel they put their reputation—and future sales—in jeopardy if consumers purchase defective wheels from them.

Dan Casebeer, owner of Grand Performance in St. Paul, Minnesota, said he’s not inclined to buy more of these Mavic wheels until he knows what the problem is. “I need to keep my customers happy,” Casebeer said. “I don’t want my customers hurt.”

Fortunately for Mavic, it has had a near-perfect track record when it comes to recalls. The wheel company’s last one happened more than 10 years ago. But the financial consequences of product recalls are very real for suppliers. Aside from loss of potential sales from bad press, attorney fees, replacement parts and printing and mailings can add up quickly. Much of the total cost depends on what a supplier’s replacing and how many parts are involved, according to Steve Boyd, director of operations for Dahon California. It could be real easy to get to $100,000,” Boyd said. He would know. Dahon is still dealing with its May recall of about 11,500 folding bikes from the 2008 model year.

Having enough replacement parts in stock is another issue. Dahon faced this problem in late June. Up until then, the company’s recall was going smoothly with 50 to 60 percent of consumers notified within 90 days. Then Dahon ran out of replacement parts.

The recall process itself can be quite lengthy. Some bike companies will file the paperwork with the Consumer Product Safety Commission themselves, while others will have their attorneys, who are familiar with the process and jargon, handle it.

The process in the United States takes time,” said Boyd. “There are 10 things we have to file with the CPSC and they have to approve it.” Internationally, recalls seem to be easier for suppliers. While there might be more regulating entities to satisfy worldwide, the process is much more loose and fast,” Boyd said. “You push that down to your distributors.”

Like Mavic, Dahon’s main headquarters are overseas, which can be yet another challenge in satisfying American dealers with expedience and efficiency. Still, alerting the owners of recalled products is the greatest hurdle bike suppliers face.

"Getting in touch with consumers that’s the biggest challenge in a recall," said attorney Steven W. Hansen, who has dealt with somewhere between 30 and 40 product recalls. “There’s just not a good way of tracking customers when they make a purchase” with the IBD, he said.

Components and to a lesser degree bikes aren’t tracked with nearly the same efficiency as automobiles. If a consumer hasn’t registered their bike, there’s a good chance—unless their local bike shop linked them to the purchase of a recalled bike—they’ll never know they’re riding a potentially dangerous product.

I think retailers are getting better at tracking,” said Boyd. “I’d say at least half of my customers could send me a list with consumers’ contact info.” Ten years ago that number would have been 5 percent. The increase in retail tracking is due in large part to the growing number of retailers who are using point-of-sale software.

Contact numbers tend to fluctuate depending on how many units are involved in the recall and the product’s price point among other variables, said attorney Sheldon Warren, who’s been handling bike recalls for about 20 years, and handled Dahon’s recent recall.

When the product is high-end, dealers may have better records,” Warren said. The first 90 days of any recall, Warren said, is when the majority of contacts are made.

I’ve heard from others in the industry that if you’ve been able to reach 50 percent of consumers it’s been successful,” said Brian Wilson, director of product development for Felt Racing, which issued a recall last month of about 1,450 F1X cyclocross bikes due to faulty fork steerer tubes.

Unfortunately for bike companies, recalls don’t go away in a matter of weeks or months. It’s not uncommon for a recall to drag on for years since it may take some consumers that long to take note and notify the manufacturer. I was just talking with someone at Giant Bicycle, and they had someone call on a 10-year-old recall,” Boyd said. You always honor it.”

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