Recalled! What to Do When You Receive a Recall Notice On an Appliance
In the last five years, more than 50 percent of consumers have received a recall notice on an appliance, product, or vehicle they own. Yet only about 10 percent of consumers typically follow up on recalls each year. As Consumer Reports says, “Products are recalled for a specific and serious reason: they can be hazardous.”
What Is A Recall Notice?
A product recall notice is a letter from a manufacturer to the consumer letting the consumer know a product they have purchased has been found to have safety issues, defects, or parts that might endanger the consumer or put the maker/seller at risk of legal action. Recalls are costly, and most manufacturers don’t like to issue them, but doing so protects them or limits liability for corporate negligence.
Recalls can be issued on large items, like cars, washers, dryers, or other appliances, or on things as small as an iPhone case, and children’s toys or anything you buy for your home, like tools, cookware, dishes, bowls, and bathroom products.
If you have never received a recall notice, chances are you didn’t register the items you bought – like cameras, grills, technology, or appliances. Start registering any appliance or product that does come with a registration card – it can protect you, and sometimes even get you a new product if anything was to happen.
Voluntary and Compulsory Product Recalls
There are two types of product recalls — voluntary and compulsory. The vast majority of recalls are voluntary recalls. That’s when the manufacturer of the appliance or product willingly issues a recall. They are actively working with the government and its agencies to let consumers know about the issue. In the US, six different agencies help protect consumers and alert the public to recalls. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is one of the largest of these agencies. CPSC regulates more than 15,000 types of products, including appliances. They oversee products and appliances in both homes and schools.
There hasn’t been a compulsory recall in the United States since 2001. Compulsory recalls are just exactly what they sound like – the government orders a manufacturer to take a particular product off the shelf.
What Are My Consumer Rights With a Recall?
According to the laws regarding most recalls, the company recalling the product should cover any costs you incur in returning the product. Your right to get a refund or a replacement depends on whether the fault makes the product unsafe.
Where Do I Find Recall Notices?
If you didn’t return product registration cards when you bought your item, you can still find out if you own any recalled items or sign up for recall alerts by going to recalls.gov. You can also download free apps, like Product Recall Search to get recall alerts and check recalls.
What Should I Do After I Receive a Recall Notice?
Once you’ve received the notice, read it carefully, then stop using the product mentioned in the recall. Even if you are aware of the hazard and feel happy to accept any risk, other people in your home or around you who might use it may not feel the same way. Unplug it, and store it until you can have it repaired or replaced. Depending on the item being recalled, you may be given a postage-paid envelope to return the product or asked to drop it off at a designated location, or requested to have it returned via a designated courier (UPS, FEDEX, etc.).
If it’s a low-cost item and you don’t believe is worth returning or repairing and you plan to throw away, make sure the item is disabled enough that no one else will be tempted or able to use it.
Even if you decide to throw the item away, contact the supplier so they can account for your product and monitor the numbers of affected products and whether the recall has been effective.
If you have questions or aren’t sure what to do with the item, contact the manufacturer or retailer. Their contact details, including a website, email and phone number, should be on the recall notice.
Know Before You Buy
Before you buy any major (or even any minor) appliance or product including grills, hair dryers, washing machines and dryers, cars, televisions, computers, etc., simply check to see if there has been a product recall on the item you’re considering purchasing. You can do this online from your cell phone if you’re in a store and find something you want to buy. Just Google the item and its brand, name, style, and the word “recall” to see if the item has been recalled for any reason.
A few minutes spent researching or checking on new items – particularly large ticket items like automobiles, appliances, and grills, or sports equipment, child seats, toys, and electronics can save you a lot of money and headaches down the road.