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Recall Actions Ineffective Without Direct Consumer Contact

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Manufacturers are learning that their efforts to warn consumers about product defects are ineffective. Even when consumers know about a recall, they sometimes do not believe the defect will harm their families. However, research shows that when companies take the time to contact consumers directly, compliance rates skyrocket, reducing injuries.

More Injuries Occur After Recalls

One particularly upsetting example of an ineffective recall is the Easy Bake Oven product defect from 2007. The manufacturer removed the toy from the market after 24(1) children caught their fingers in the heated portion of the oven. Even after the recall, another 249 children were injured. One child suffers burns so severe that her finger required amputation. Clearly, the recall system is broken when more children are injured after a recall than before.

Although government efforts to make recall information more accessible are commendable, they seem to have little impact. Most of the ways the agencies disseminate information requires consumers find the warnings themselves. They must read notices posted at stores, visit a government website, or check an application on their smart phones. To find any information that might apply to them, consumers must wade through scores of recalled product notifications. This onslaught of information makes it difficult for consumers to pinpoint dangers in products they own.

How Product Recalls Work

Product recalls include two vital steps. The first requires retailers to remove dangerous products from their shelves. The second requires manufacturers to inform consumers about the dangers of products they have already purchased. Store compliance is high, removing dangerous products from shelves quickly. However, the communication with consumers fails. Only certain classes of products, like automobiles, require direct contact with consumers. For most products, consumers must actively seek information or stumble upon it in the news.

Consumers are Getting the Wrong Message

Consumer Reports research shows that consumers do not realize the importance or the real purpose of safety recalls. One study shows that 58 percent(2) of consumers never fill out product registration cards. Without this information, manufacturers cannot contact them about recalls.

Oddly, most consumers say they are worried that they are not receiving enough safety information about dangerous products. The reason they do not fill out product registration cards seems to lie with consumer sentiment. Most believe that manufacturers issue product recalls protect themselves from lawsuits, not to protect consumers from harm.

Direct Contact is More Effective

Companies like Costco have found that direct contact with consumers greatly increases response. The retailer calls club members who purchased recalled products. By leaving a telephone message that explains the product, the date it was bought, the defect and the consequences, the company has enjoyed response rates as high as 90 percent. Compare that with the typical 30 percent response rate for recalls on everyday consumer goods.

Contact Us

If a defective product injured you or someone you care about, contact our office. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys will provide a free consultation to help you understand your rights. You may be entitled to compensation for injuries, lost wages and pain and suffering.


[1] http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2012268615_recallfatigue03.html
[2] http://blogs.consumerreports.org/safety/toys/

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