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Child Safety Recalls Ineffective, Report Says

A new study suggests child safety recalls are ineffective. Only 10% of children's products are returned or repaired following child safety recalls, according to a new report by Kids in Danger (KID), a Chicago-based children's safety advocacy group.

The government makes announcements but product owners either don't hear about it or they don't respond, according to Nancy Cowles, KID's executive director, USA Today reports.

But others contend a low recall rate doesn't necessarily equate to an ineffective recall.

Reasons for Ineffectiveness

Here are three reasons child product recalls are ineffective, according to the study:

  1. Lack of publicity. Companies and the Consumer Product Safety Commission distribute joint press releases about recalls. Also, companies with websites must post the information online. But responsibility of sharing information about a recall ultimately shifts to the company, which the study suggests leads to less information reaching consumers.
  2. Poor social media use. The study claims companies' social media tools are significantly underutilized in sharing recall information. Of 114 recalls in 2013, more than half involved companies with social media accounts. But of those, only nine used Facebook to share recall information and only eight tweeted recall information, according to the study.
  3. Failure to fill out registration cards. Julie Vallese, a spokeswoman for the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association, says another issue is consumers' failure to fill out the registration card for juvenile products. Filling out a registration card gives companies a direct and quick way to notify you if a product you purchased is recalled.

Caveat of Study

Vallese claims the KID study's findings are misleading. As you may know, a recall is a refund, repair, or replacement. Companies may select which of the three remedies to select. But Vallese says when it comes to products concerning child safety, consumers might be taking matters into their own hands.

"Return rates for products are a poor indicator of recall effectiveness since a variety of factors affect how consumers decide to respond," says Vallese, a former spokeswoman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Many products may no longer be in use or have already been disposed of by consumers."

Although the study's findings may be uncertain, the lesson is clear: consumers should take child product recalls seriously. Whether you decide to toss the product yourself or take advantage of recall remedies, try to stay in the know of recall efforts. For starters, consider signing up for consumer protection alerts.

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