Public Database Created for Consumer Complaints
As usual, there are at least
two sides to every story.
National, non-profit, Washington D.C.-based public
interest organization Public Citizen is endorsing a database of consumer complaints
to be launched in March by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC).
to The Washington Post, the new database has been "hailed
by consumer advocates as a resource that will revolutionize the way people
make buying decisions."
Amongst those less than pleased, "major
manufacturing and industry groups have raised concerns … saying it may
be filled with fictitious slams against their brands. Competitors or others
with political motives could post inaccurate claims, business leaders say,
and the agency will not be able to investigate most of the complaints." One
specific objection is a concern that those without direct experience of products,
including lawyers and members of organized groups, are allowed to make contributions.
now, consumers have had to file public records requests to see information
gathered about problems. The CSPC was required to consult with manufacturers
who were entitled to prevent disclosure. Recalls of dangerous products had
to be negotiated and could take "months or years" during which
time they were still on sale. The Post says that "under the new
system, a complaint filed by a consumer will be posted for anyone to read within
In the future, consumer complaints "will be posted for
anyone to read within 15 days. … The CPSC then has five days to notify the
manufacturer, which in turn has 10 days to respond. A company can challenge
the complaint as false, argue that it will give away a trade secret, or submit
a response. The response will be published alongside the complaint in the database.
If a company says a complaint is false or would disclose confidential business
information, the CSPC will decide whether to withhold or publish the complaint."
must identify themselves, but their details won’t be published
or disclosed without permission. It is said "the database will not include
peeves about reliability or quality, only information about defects that can
cause injury or death."
- Consumer Product Safety Commission to launch public database of complaints – The
- Consumer Product Safety Commission Must Use New Tools to Keep Dangerous
Products Off the Market, Public Citizen Says – Public Citizen
Discussion Questions: How will having a centralized, consolidated, public database of consumer complaints from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) affect brands and retailers?