The CPSC's Newest Tactic: Intimidation
That is a modern trend. Many recalls involve no injuries, only the possibility for damage to occur. And related to this is another modern trend, a phrase that appears in virtually every product recall you will ever read: "voluntary recall." Nearly every release from the CPSC is done voluntarily in conjunction with the product manufacturer. Now, why would these businesses voluntarily recall their products even when there have been no injuries, even when the chance of injury is miniscule?
Ask Buckyballs what happens when you don't volunteer.
The commission's greatest regulatory option is not the recall, or the regulation, or the ban. It's the public spotlight, and the ability to point to a company and say "they create products that hurt children." You see it on the news every day, from Buckyballs to Bumbo Baby Seats. Even if consumers feel the regulations are unnecessary, as many people in the magnet case do, a company cannot win an argument about children's safety in the court of public opinion. Both Buckyballs and Zen Magnets are continuing to sell their products and fighting for their businesses, but if they lose their lawsuits, it is almost assured both will go bankrupt. The other 11 companies that voluntarily pulled their products, due to the loss of U.S. sales, likely face the same outcome.
What does this mean for suppliers and distributors? Regardless of whether you make, sell or import an item, you need to protect your business by meeting all federal guidelines and compliance requirements. It's also important to remain aware of CPSC's actions regarding relevant product categories; don't be surprised if you see more focus on drinkware after the high-profile H&M recall.
Unfortunately, there is no option to resist the commission's aggressive (some would say bullying) tactics; between the cost and the bad press it's a no-win proposition. But there is one thing you can do: contact the CPSC or your local politician and let them know how these proactive measures are detrimental to small business. It is maybe the fastest and easiest thing you can do to help your business and your industry.