Guest Author - Kim Lynch
When a product is recalled, news reports often site the number of complaints received during the proceeding year. The complaints are from ordinary people who took the time to notify the relevant agency of a problem they experienced with a product.
While it's inevitable that all products will generate a complaint in some form, regulating agencies look at the number and seriousness of the complaints that they receive. Not reporting a problem with a product could cause delays in correcting the problem and even cost lives.
Think about the last time you had a serious, possibly life threatening problem with a product such as a child's toy. Perhaps you discover the toy has small parts that easily come loose and pose a chocking hazard. Your first step would be to immediately take the toy away from the child, but then what would you do?
If the toy had been purchased recently, returning the item for a refund and complaining to the store might seem like the first logical step. If it was too late for a return, complaining to the manufacturer would seem to be the next best choice. If it was an inexpensive toy, you may to decide to just throw the item away.
While returning an item will get you a refund, complaining to a retailer will not get an item automatically pulled from inventory. The store may toss the item, report the problem to their supplier or ignore your complaint and place the item back on the shelf for re-sale.
Complaining to the manufacturer may get you a credit or alternative replacement, but there is no guarantee that it will result in an investigation into the seriousness of the problem.
It seems the last place many people go is to a regulating agency, but it should be the first stop when ever you experience a dangerous problem with a product.
Federal Communications Commission
Regulates Broadcast TV and Radio, Wireless Telephone, Internet service, Telemarketing, Junk Fax
United States Department of Agriculture
Handles problems with Meat, Poultry, eggs
Food and Drug Administration
Report problems with pet food and pet medication, cosmetics, dietary supplements, medication, food, medical devices, vaccines and blood transfusions.
National Highway Safety
Investigates complaints about motor vehicles, child seats, tires and motor vehicle equipment
US Consumer Product Safety Commission
Assures the safety of consumer products including: appliances, clothing, electronic/electrical, furniture, household, children's products, lighting, outdoor and sports/exercise