Tar­get­ing re­tail­ers, buy­ers

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS -

Any re­call has two tar­gets: re­tail­ers and con­sumers. Govern­ment reg­u­la­tors say most stores can quickly pull de­fec­tive prod­ucts from shelves and block their sale at the cash reg­is­ter. The tougher bat­tle is get­ting the con­sumer to act.

“We do a good job of get­ting dan­ger­ous prod­ucts off store shelves, but we do be­lieve the great­est chal­lenge is get­ting dan­ger­ous prod­ucts out of the homes,” said Inez Te­nen­baum, chair­woman of the Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion, which over­saw 465 prod­uct re­calls in 2009, in­volv­ing tens of mil­lions of items, from cir­cu­lar saws to Je­sus Fish Beads.

If a prod­uct is rel­a­tively ex­pen­sive, con­sumers are more likely to re­turn it for a re­place­ment or a re­pair. They’re also more likely to act if they per­ceive an im­me­di­ate threat to their health or safety.

Ve­hi­cle own­ers are among the most re­spon­sive, re­turn­ing 73 per­cent of re­called au­tos and 45 per­cent of re­called child car seats in 2009, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional High­way Trans­porta­tion Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion. Of the 7.7 mil­lion ve­hi­cles re­called by Toy­ota in the past year, 3.7 mil­lion, or slightly less than half, have been brought in and re­paired, said Brian Lyons, a com­pany spokesman. The com­pany ex­pects that num­ber to grow be­cause re­place­ment parts for some of the ve­hi­cles have only just been made avail­able, he said.

Mean­while, con­sumers re­turn about 30 per­cent of ev­ery­day con­sumer goods when they are re­called, said Marc Schoem, the top re­call of­fi­cial at the Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion. In cases in­volv­ing a costly ap­pli­ance, or a prod­uct where a de­fect could be lethal, such as scuba div­ing equip­ment, about 60 per­cent of con­sumers re­turn the prod­uct, he said.

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