The Electrical Safety Council Calls for Overhaul of Recall System

Charity proposes unlimited fines for manufacturers who fail to respond adequately, standardised guidelines and improved product registration system.

The Electrical Safety Council is today calling for manufacturers to face unlimited fines if they undertake inadequate or slow recalls, following growing concerns over the effectiveness of the recall system and the emergence of a number of serious incidents involving recalled products.

The current penalty for manufacturers who delay or take inadequate action in a recall situation is only £5,000 but the Electrical Safety Council, a UK wide consumer safety charity, would like to see tougher penalties based on a percentage of profits from the recalled product. This change in legislation would help ensure manufacturers respond quickly and effectively in recall situations.

The Electrical Safety Council is also inviting Trading Standards to set out clear and unambiguous guidelines on exactly what a manufacturer should do if they have produced a product that is subject to a recall. The Electrical Safety Council’s research shows that typically only 10-20% [i] of recalled electrical products are ever returned, exposing millions of people in the UK to the risk of fire or electrocution. Over the last six years there have been 266 recall notices for electrical items.

In addition to the proposed change to fines, the Electrical Safety Council has today outlined proposals for a new centralised product registration system, co-ordinated by the charity, which could help manufacturers trace their products to the consumer in a recall situation.

At the moment only 5-10% [ii] of people fill in registration cards for new items because they are concerned about their information being used for marketing purposes and because they don’t understand the purpose of the cards. Yet over half [iii] of all the people that took part in the Electrical Safety Council’s research said they would be more likely to register products with an independent organisation, if their details were used only in the event of a recall and if they were assured their details wouldn’t be used for marketing purposes.

The database being proposed by the charity would aim to encourage more people to submit their details at the point of purchase or immediately afterwards. The new registration scheme, which would need the backing of industry in order to operate effectively, will be outlined at the

Electrical Safety Council’s Product Safety conference taking place in London today (16.05.13). The conference, which will see representatives from across the industry including Beko, Bosch, the British Retail Consortium and Trading Standards come together to discuss solutions, will be the first stage of a consultation process on how to tackle this longstanding issue.

Emma Apter from the Electrical Safety Council said:
“The current recall system is not effective enough, and without tougher penalties there is no incentive for manufacturers to act quickly and take the best corrective action possible. Whilst it is a complex issue, with no quick fix solution, we believe there are a number of steps that have the potential to make a significant improvement.

“People are confused by the recall system – and it’s not clear what level of action manufacturers are expected to take. If more people registered their products, and clear guidelines were set for manufacturers to follow, it would be significantly easier to trace recalled items. Our research shows that people would be more likely to register their products with an independent organisation like the ESC, and we hope that industry will work with us on ways to achieve a higher return rate for recalled items.”

[i] Information taken from ESC report on Appliance Safety: ‘Safer Products, Better Business’
[ii] Information taken from ESC report on Appliance Safety: ‘Safer Products, Better Business’
[iii]  Populus survey 2013: Nationally representative sample of 2,024 UK adults surveyed between 12th and 14th April 2013


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