As a San Francisco Dangerous Product attorney, I thought that this story had great import to those who care about product safety in the U. S.A. The Safety Institute, a group which provides health and safety consultations to organizations domestic and worldwide, has discovered that some manufacturers, including certain ATV makers, are attempting to bypass the recall process of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), by offering repairs to customers directly, instead of working with the appropriate government agency and the mandated recall process.
This idea of “silent recalls” is neither accepted industry practice, nor condoned industry-wide.
In fact, seven manufacturers were found to be currently offering remedies directly to customers instead of following mandated recall procedures, including an ATV maker, child’s backpack carrier, crib/bed, portable heater, electric scooters, and treadmills.
So who is bypassing the recall?
The most egregious defect comes from Hisun Motors Corp, an ATV company producing ATVs with unshielded exhaust systems, which could result in vehicular fires.
From the consumer complaint:
“The dealer stated that the driver came home and parked the ATV on his driveway. The driver turned off the engine and about 10 minutes later, he noticed smoke and flames coming from the rear of the ATV. The dealer stated that within 45 seconds, the ATV had engulfed in flames. The driver had driven the ATV on the day of the incident for 30 miles. The dealer and the driver believe that the incident occurred due to the unshielded exhaust. The dealer stated that the unshielded exhaust caused the rear floor panels to melt, lower down, and ignite.”
And the statement from the dealer:
“The manf informed the dealer that they were aware of the problem and that all of the newer models were being sent out with a repair kit. The dealer was also sent a repair kit for another model he has in his shop. The dealer stated that the kit includes a whole new exhaust system that is shielded. The dealer stated that he has the leftover metal frame of the ATV that ignited. There are no recalls on this vehicle.”
The second serious example? The Kelty Pathfinder backpack child carrier, manufactured by American Recreation Products, with straps that apparently won’t maintain integrity under use.
From the consumer complaint:
Kelty Pathfinder red straps disintegrated. All buckles attached with the red straps just pop off.
And the response from the manufacturer:
This does appear to be a quality issue we are experiencing with this product. It also appears to be limited to Child Carriers with the red strapping, we’re thinking a “lot” issue. Anyone experiencing this product can contact Kelty Customer Service for a free replacement.
The interesting part is, is that the recall process is fairly standard and should not be of any surprise to these manufacturers. Leading to the belief that they are intentionally side-stepping the process.
So, what happens next?
The CPSC will act to hold these companies accountable, but that doesn’t mean that we’re all safe from so called “silent recalls”. It is up to you, as the consumer, to keep an eye out for these kinds of recall side-steps, and if you believe you have been harmed by a dangerous or defective product, report it to the CPSC, and consult a product liability attorney immediately. Don’t let these manufacturers get away with circumventing the process. Public awareness is one of the greatest weapons we have in our arsenal to keep products safe for our families.
Claude A. Wyle is a partner of Choulos Choulos, and Wyle, a San Francisco based law firm dedicated to representing clients who have been injured by the wrongful conduct of individuals, corporations, public entities, and businesses. Mr. Wyle also frequently sits as a Judge Pro Tem for the city and county of San Francisco.