On Friday, March 11 the government launched a new website, SaferProducts.gov that is under the auspices of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Its basic function is to let consumers report and search safety complaints about products. You probably won’t be surprised to find out that manufacturers really did not want to see this thing become a reality and a lot of Republican congressmen, who have close relationships with industry, tried to block it.
In an interview with The Associated Press, the chairman of the consumer safety agency, Inez Tenenbaum, said, “Through SaferProducts.gov, consumers will have open access to product safety information that they have never seen before and the information will empower them to make safer choices.”
We’re talking about all kinds of household products, stuff for babies, you name it. Manufacturers didn’t want it because just about anyone can make a report and their lobbyists painted a doomsday scenario of hearsay information.
In an insurance context, here’s the plain truth. You have probably had to raise your deductibles to afford to keep your homeowners insurance — I know I have. You want that insurance there for catastrophes, but if the TV catches fire and smokes up the living room, your deductible may be so high, you’re on your own. It simply makes sense to do better, more in-depth product research. It is, in essence, free insurance. This website takes some of the effort out of the process.
And it is pretty simple. When you hit the site, there’s an obvious large, green button for “Report an Unsafe Product” and just under that a box to search recalls and reports. I typed in “television” and discovered a recall on a 32-inch Sharp LCD TV as well as a recall of a particular television wall mount.
Just poking around, I also found a Sunbeam wine opener that slices and dices fingers, a QVC spinning candle holder that causes fires (duh, spinning candle?), and some cast iron skillets that create a “burn hazard.” Basically this is a site where you’re going to get information without even really trying. Thumbs up. Excellent consumer resource.