The Consumer Product Safety Commission will launch an online public database that contains all consumer complaints about products. The searchable public database is set to launch in March, with complaints scheduled to post to the system within 15 days of receipt. The database is a result of the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. While the CPSC already collects reports of defective products from consumers, media accounts and health care providers, much of the information had remained private, under a Freedom of Information Act exemption. To gain access to the information, a citizen had to file a public-records request with the CPSC, which then had to consult with the manufacturer before releasing the information.
Under the new system, the CPSC has five days to notify a manufacturer when a consumer files a complaint. The company then has ten days to respond. It can challenge the complaint as false, argue that publication will give away a trade secret, or submit a response, which will be published with the complaint in the database. While the new database has received praise from most all consumer advocates, the Washington Post recently reported that the business community is “working behind the scenes to delay or revamp the project.” Hopefully, those efforts will fail. Companies have expressed concern that complaints could contain inaccurate information, or fake problems posted by competitors. Some say that since the volume of complaints – 16,000 consumer complaints were made in 2009 – the CPSC won’t be able to investigate most of them. While that may be true, this project certainly seems to be a step in the right direction.
Source: Lawyers USA Online
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