Would You Risk a $10,000 Order to Raise Product Safety Questions?
So what is the best practice when it comes to quoting? While each distributor or supplier needs to consider his or her own situation, here are some things to take into consideration:
Since mandatory standards are not optional, you have to deal with them no matter what. If you are knowledgeable about the law, you may be able to make a determination from the product or an image and not have to query the client about the intended audience. While this approach has risk for borderline products, there are hundreds of products in the industry that are obviously not toys or children's products. As a general rule, however, it is safer to evaluate the art and ask the client who the intended audience is before quoting. Then you can determine the required standards and build them into your price—material specification and testing.
There are those who would argue that including product testing in a quote may make your product appear more expensive than competitive quotes that do not include testing. To me, that's a sales issue, not a pricing issue. At a minimum, your quote and presentation should highlight the mandatory regulations that apply to the product and indicate the amount you have included for third party testing. Your salesmanship should enable the client to appreciate your understanding of compliance and that you are protecting her and her company. It seems more professional to me to openly provide the distributor or end-buyer all the facts she will need to approve the sale. Once a price has been approved, it puts everyone in a difficult position if you to go back and say, "We need to add $1,000 for mandatory testing." These are hard conversations that sometimes do not have happy endings.
What about voluntary tests—the ones that aren't required by law? You might be tempted to disregard them as unnecessary costs that could price you out of a sale, but that would be too simplistic an approach and not necessarily in your best interest or your customer's. Because of the odd nuances of CPSIA, there are numerous products that can be distributed to young children that are not considered "children's products" and therefore not subject to mandatory testing requirements. These products are considered by CPSC to be "general use products" for children of all ages, not the "primarily 12 years of age or younger" crowd covered by CPSIA. But if you sell a general use product for seven-year-olds, isn't it likely that your client will expect it to be tested to children's product standards? And won't you be embarrassed if the client calls you one day to say that he just found out that one of these products was chock full of lead? Do you think the client will be sympathetic if you explain that product didn't fit the technical definition of a children's product so you decided not to test it? Not likely, especially if some news outlet is asking for a statement about why her company is distributing lead-filled products to kids.