Parent of TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, and Marshalls to Pay $13 Million for Selling Recalled Products

    But the chair of the federal safety agency says the amount is too low and calls on Congress to lift the ceiling on civil penalties

    TJX logo and a Recalled Fisher-Price inclined sleeper accessory for Ultra-Lite Day & Night play yards Source: TJX, CPSC

    TJX Companies has agreed to pay a $13 million civil penalty to settle charges that it sold more than a thousand recalled consumer products over a five-year period, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced yesterday.

    The parent of TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, and Marshalls stores also agreed to maintain a compliance program to avoid selling recalled goods in the future. TJX didn’t admit to any wrongdoing in agreeing to pay the penalty. (Scroll down to see a list of recalled products.) 

    The $13 million fine may seem hefty, but the market cap of TJX brands as of Aug. 1 was $71.66 billion, according to Macrotrends, an investment-research platform.

    More on Recalls and Product Safety

    The current chair of the CPSC, Alex Hoehn-Saric, said in a statement that while the civil penalty was near the limit of what the agency can impose, it may not be enough. He has called on Congress to eliminate or significantly increase the cap on fines imposed by the CPSC, noting that for a multibillion-dollar company, even fines up to $100 million may be written off as a cost of doing business.

    Currently, the agency can apply fines up to only $17,150,000 for a series of related violations, as occurred here, or $120,000 for individual violations. 

    Without the fear of hefty fines, some manufacturers and retailers may see little risk in skirting or ignoring laws designed to protect consumers, most notably, the Consumer Product Safety Act. 

    Consumer Reports has previously called for higher CPSC fining authority and reiterates its stance.

    “The CPSC has a budget of $139 million for the entire year, while TJX sells that value of merchandise in the U.S. in less than two days,” says Oriene Shin, CR’s policy counsel for product safety. “And yet the CPSC is tasked with holding multibillion-dollar companies like TJX accountable. We’re glad to see the CPSC take action today, but it needs a bigger stick if it’s going to counter corporate wrongdoing effectively. Congress should remove the cap on civil penalties and give the CPSC the authority to assess whatever fine is necessary to serve as a real deterrent.”

    TJX provided this statement via email: “At TJX, product safety is very important to us and we prohibit the sale of recalled items in our stores. We deeply regret that in some instances between 2014 and 2019, recalled products were not properly removed from our sales floors despite the recall processes that we had in place. We have made a significant investment in people, processes, and technology to strengthen our processes, and have cooperated fully with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

    This settlement comes after TJX stores sold about 1,200 units of 21 different recalled products, including inclined sleepers for infants and coffee makers. TJX and the CPSC first issued a joint statement in late 2019 acknowledging the sale of the recalled products, but the civil penalties were not agreed upon until yesterday. 

    The CPSC has alleged that TJX knowingly sold these products at their walk-in stores and online between March 2014 and November 2019. The products in question vary considerably but included things like mugs and coffee makers capable of shattering, bar stools that could collapse under pressure, and wireless speakers at risk of exploding while being charged.

    Perhaps most troubling is that the retailer continued to sell recalled inclined sleepers tied to infant fatalities, tragedies that were brought to light in part through a Consumer Reports investigation

    TJX obtains the products they sell by purchasing in bulk from other retailers attempting to clear out inventory. It also sells its own exclusive products. The recalls involved in this settlement include merchandise sold exclusively at TJX stores as well as those made by other manufacturers. 

    A list of the 19 recalled products sold by TJX and specifically mentioned in the 2019 CPSC statement follows. Refer to the CPSC press release for details on what to do if you’ve purchased one of these items. Depending on the nature of the problem, your product may need to be repaired, replaced, or discarded in exchange for a refund. 

    Recalled Products Sold by TJX

    • Inclined Sleeper Accessory for Ultra-Lite Day & Night Play Yards recalled by Fisher-Price
    • Portable Speakers recalled by ION Audio
    • Rocking Sleepers recalled by Kids II
    • Rock ’n Play Sleepers recalled by Fisher-Price
    • Glass & Ceramic Drawer Knobs recalled by TJX
    • Bistro Chairs recalled by Jimco
    • Swivel Barstools recalled by TJX
    • Children’s Cardigan Sets recalled by Carter’s
    • Sharper Image and Frigidaire Mandoline Slicers recalled by Premier Kitchen
    • Glass Beer Mugs recalled by TJX
    • Coffee Presses recalled by Bradshaw International
    • Oball Rattles recalled by Kids II
    • Cutlery Knives recalled by Calphalon
    • Self-Balancing Scooters/Hoverboards recalled by Swagway
    • Foldable Lounge Chairs recalled by TJX
    • Ivanka Trump Scarves recalled by GBG Accessories Group
    • Children’s Light-Up Watches recalled by MZB
    • Foldable Wood Patio Chairs recalled by Linon Home Décor Products
    • Gardeners Eden Light-Up Decorations recalled by TJX
    • StyleCraft Upholstered Benches recalled by StyleCraft
    • Bollinger Fitness Resistance Bands recalled by Bollinger
    • Calphalon Pizza Wheels recalled by Calphalon

    Consumer Reports has long worked to publicize recalls related to product safety and has covered hundreds of individual recalls in the past. Consumers who want to check to see if a product is under recall can search the CPSC database. For recalls specifically tied to cars and trucks, you can also check CR’s Car Recall Tracker. 

    Paul Hope

    As a classically trained chef and an enthusiastic DIYer, I've always valued having the best tool for a job—whether the task at hand is dicing onions for mirepoix or hanging drywall. When I'm not writing about home products, I can be found putting them to the test, often with help from my two young children, in the 1860s townhouse I'm restoring in my free time.