Removing Dangerous Furniture

What's at stake: A 2-year-old boy from California died after an unsecured Ikea dresser fell on him. He was the eighth child reported to have died in a tip-over accident involving an Ikea dresser, and the first death since the company recalled 29 million dressers (including certain Malm models) for tip-over hazards in June 2016.

The tragedy raises renewed concerns about the effectiveness of the Ikea recall. The California boy's family was reportedly unaware of the cited danger. And Ikea's responses to requests for recall data suggest that the overwhelming majority of the dangerous dressers are still in homes.

How CR has your back: In 2016, we urged Ikea to recall the dressers, pointing to previous deaths. We also called on the company to release its product-safety records in the interest of transparency.

With the latest report of a child fatality, we feel strongly that Ikea should invest more resources into publicizing the recall so that consumers can take action. The company should promote the dangers posed by the dressers with the same effort it put into marketing the product in the first place.

Ikea's competitors also need to take note. All dressers should be designed to remain upright when young children pull on them, push them, or step on open drawers—regardless of whether the bureau has been anchored to a wall. Currently, the industry has a voluntary safety standard for these types of products, and we believe that guideline should be strengthened without delay. If the furniture industry fails to strengthen the standard in key ways, Congress should require it to do so.

What you can do: If you own an Ikea dresser, call 866-856-4532 or go to ikea.com to see whether it has been recalled. We encourage people to immediately anchor the dresser to the wall with a free kit from Ikea, have Ikea anchor it for you (at no charge), or return it and get a refund.

Protecting Fraud Victims

What's at stake: Millions of consumers were adversely affected by the Wells Fargo fraudulent-account scandal, where bank employees used personal information tied to existing accounts to open new ones without the consent of consumers. To make matters worse, the bank is now trying to enforce mandatory arbitration clauses within customer contracts that prevent victims from seeking justice through the legal system.

To ensure that the defrauded aren't hurt by these anti-consumer policies, the California State Legislature passed a bill in September that eliminates the use of mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts that were fraudulently created by financial institutions.

How CR has your back: Consumer Reports advocated for and helped push this bill over the finish line, even providing technical support on the law's language. Our take: Anyone wronged by Wells Fargo—or any other bad actor who attempts this kind of wrongdoing—should have to answer to its customers in a court of law. That's why we're also supporting the federal Justice for Victims of Fraud Act, sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif. Building on the California victory, this new proposal would prevent Wells Fargo from applying its mandatory arbitration clause against all consumers, no matter what state they live in.

What you can do: Go to congress.gov to contact your lawmakers and urge them to support the Justice for Victims of Fraud Act. Because there is no place for industry protections in fraudulent contracts.

Controlling Drug Prices

What's at stake: To battle skyrocketing pharmaceutical prices, California recently enacted the most comprehensive drug-price transparency law in the nation. The law, called SB 17, requires drugmakers to publicly report and justify planned price hikes to state agencies and insurers.

"Californians have a right to know why their medical costs are out of control, especially when pharmaceutical profits are soaring," said Gov. Jerry Brown. This measure is a step toward bringing truth "to a very important part of our lives, that is the cost of prescription drugs."

How CR has your back: Consumer Reports was a strong supporter of the bill, and our advocates wrote letters, met with lawmakers, and helped mobilize activists—all in an attempt to shine light on the outrageous price hikes plaguing our healthcare system and consumers.

What you can do: As we seek to educate and encourage other states to adopt similar legislation, find out how you can lower your drug costs by reading our investigation, "Is There a Cure for High Drug Prices?"

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the January 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.