|

Unsafe by definition: Voluntary recall

Consumer Reports News: February 15, 2010 08:08 AM

What it is: Most recalls of defective products are characterized as "voluntary," a confusing term that can lead consumers to believe that the recall is optional. But voluntary recall is just government-speak for a deal that a manufacturer or retailer of a hazardous product has negotiated with the federal agency in charge of overseeing the safety of that product category. Voluntary recall would also seem to indicate that there are “mandatory recalls” that can be issued by the government should manufacturers or retailers refuse to cooperate, but nearly all the recalls announced last year were voluntary.

Why it's news: While voluntary recalls have been—for all practical purposes—the only means by which the government can get dangerous and defective products off the market, that's about to change. Last month the Consumer Product Safety Commission unanimously approved a new rule setting guidelines and requirements for mandatory recalls and those rules are set to go into effect on February 22. A mandatory recall can be ordered by the CPSC or a U.S. District Court. The requirement for the new rules was part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and was originally proposed by President Barack Obama when he was a Senator. At this point it remains unclear how often and under what circumstances the CPSC might turn to a mandatory recall instead of a voluntary one when the new rules take effect.  
   

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Latest From Consumer Reports

JUICER REVIEWS
Juicers that do best in Consumer Reports' tests We tested new models from Breville, Juiceman, and West Bend
TIRE REVIEWS
When is the right time to change winter tires? Consider removing them when temperatures are consistently above 40° F.
ELECTRONICS NEWS
Some smart TVs record—and share—everything you watch Information brokers want to turn your viewing habits into cash.
2015 AUTOS SPOTLIGHT
Exclusive report: 10 Top Picks of 2015Video These are the cars and SUVs that our experts love—and you will too!
HOME & GARDEN NEWS
Pros, cons, and costs of solar photovoltaic systems More and more homeowners are considering buying or leasing rooftop panels.
2015 AUTOS SPOTLIGHT
10 cars that are definitely worth waiting forVideo New and improved models are coming soon to a driveway near you.

Connect

and safety with
subscribers and fans

Follow us on:

Cars

Cars New Car Price Report
Find out what the dealers don't want you to know! Get dealer pricing information on a new car with the New Car Price Report.

Order Your Report

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more