WASHINGTON — Furniture resources cited in a tip-over or entrapment recall involving clothing storage units must offer a refund as part of their remedy to consumers.
This is according to a policy established earlier this fall by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
In the past, some companies only offered and agreed to install anti-tip kits that anchor the product to the wall as their primary remedy. However, a review of tip-over-related recalls back to early 2019 shows that most furniture companies already are offering refunds.
The policy appears to create a uniform remedy that allows consumers to get “full and fast” refunds for the recalled product.
In a Sept. 28 joint statement, CPSC commissioners Robert S. Alder and Elliot F. Kaye said that offering consumers the anchoring kits as the only stand-alone remedy “does not suffice for protecting children.”
They noted that, in many cases, consumers will not install the anchoring kits because they either lack the skill or live in rental units that don’t permit putting holes in walls. They added that many also don’t want others in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, even to make free repairs.
“Consumers deserve better, especially children and their families who are most often the unsuspecting victims of this potentially fatal tipover hazard,” the commissioners wrote. “There is a simple remedy: Companies should at a minimum offer full and fast refunds to consumers who do not want to live with furniture that could tip over and harm children.
“This option for a refund should be communicated broadly utilizing all methods available to reach consumers and provided in a manner that encourages consumers to respond immediately and take action. Anything less is truly inadequate relief.”
In late September, the American Home Furnishings Alliance quickly responded to the statement, noting that it doesn’t address two additional reasons consumers not choose to request or install an anchoring kit for a recalled clothing storage unit. For one, many of these units are sold to households without children. Secondly, it noted, when recalls cover products sold over many years, the consumer may have “sold, given away or discarded the recalled unit.”
The AHFA also noted that its “We Comply” campaign launched in April 2016 is helping retailers identify — and potentially based their buying decisions on — product that complies with the voluntary stability and safety standard for clothing storage units. AHFA said it also is helping communicate proposed changes to the standard to member companies as well as related updates so they can revise or re-engineer potentially non-compliant units.
The AHFA is also encouraging member companies and their retail customers to add product compliance information to online product descriptions to make it easier for consumers to locate.
While the CPSC joint statement made it clear the agency wanted to make sure consumers were offered refunds as part of tip-over related recall remedies, officials recently told Furniture Today: “It does not indicate their belief that a company may not offer other remedies in addition to a full and fast refund option.”
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