Amid Increasing Numbers of Product Recalls, CPSC Continues to Struggle Getting Consumers to Respond: Report

Less than a quarter of consumers impacted by product recalls in 2023 responded to notices, raising concerns that millions of dangerous products remain in use nationwide.

A new report by federal product safety regulators reveals that more than 300 voluntary recalls were issued over the last fiscal year, but consumer responses to those recalls were far below expectations, with millions of potentially dangerous products failing to be returned.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued its annual performance report for fiscal year 2023 last month, which graded the commission’s efforts to achieve its strategic goals during that year.

While the report indicates the CPSC met most of its goals for fiscal year 2023, the commission indicates that it failed to get an adequate amount of consumer participation in responding to recalls.

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2023 Product Recalls

The CPSC report indicates the commission negotiated and implemented 308 voluntary recalls in fiscal year 2023, resulting in 97 million units of potentially dangerous products being removed from store shelves. That compares to just 250 voluntary recalls in fiscal year 2022, which only affected 19 million products by comparison.

The report also indicates the CPSC performed 958 establishment inspections, surveillance activities and recall effectiveness checks last fiscal year.

The commission also notes that it sent 2,090 notices of regulatory violations to firms, calling for them to recall products or take other actions to protect consumers from harm. In addition, the CPSC sent out nearly 60,000 takedown requests to platforms and sellers found to still be selling products recalled due to safety concerns.

In a report issued earlier this month, market risk analysts found that 2023 saw the highest number of recalled products since 2016. Fire risks associated with sports, recreational, garden, and home appliance products were the leading cause of consumer product recalls in 2023, which marked the highest annual figure attributed to fires in over five years, the analysts indicated.

Consumer Recall Response Rates Down

Despite more products being recalled, the CPSC indicates it failed to meet target goals for recall response rates from consumers, with only 24% of consumers actively responding to recalls of potentially dangerous items. The commission’s goal was 33% participation.

“Consumer behavior in response to recall notices is variable and may be impacted by product price, type, age, and the perceived hazard,” the report determined. “In particular, accomplishing a successful recall is far more difficult if the product is inexpensive and/or has a short lifespan because the consumer may determine that the time required to obtain the remedy is not worth the benefit (e.g., filling out form in order to receive a $3 refund from the seller), or the product has been discarded.”

The problem becomes worse when those low-cost products are sold at high volume, the CPSC notes. The commission indicates it will continue to work to maximize U.S. consumers’ responses to recalls through direct notices and social media.

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