October 27, 2016

Our product recall system is antiquated

Our product recall system is antiquated

Yvonne Fovargue argues the current product recall system is not fit for purpose. It relies too heavily on consumer action rather than that of the manufacturer. Reform is needed; it’s time for total recall.

When we buy expensive electrical items, such as washing machines and tumble dryers, we often give little thought to safety issues. We might worry about them breaking down or not doing a good job or being expensive to run, but we don’t tend to think of them as being dangerous to our health.

But a series of scandals involving – mostly – white goods have forced us to rethink. Hardly a week goes by without a story in the press about a machine suddenly catching fire, destroying property and putting the lives of whole families at risk.

If this was not bad enough, the typical response of manufacturers has been somewhat relaxed – to say the least. Whirlpool’s advice to those with one of its five million defective dryers, for example, is to carry on as normal, but not to leave the dryer unattended while it’s on. Meanwhile, customers must wait many months – perhaps even years – for a ‘modification’ to correct the fault.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think this is good enough. The correct response would have been immediate ‘total recall’. But what we have is a clear case of putting profits before safety, where wrong – and potentially catastrophic – advice is given in order to save the company the costs of speedy repair.

What is clear is that our laws on product recall are simply not working. The Government knows this, of course, but so far it won’t do much about it. Two years’ ago they commissioned the consumer champion Lynn Faulds Wood to undertake a review, which she duly did, and then they largely ignored the findings and recommendations.

Her report was balanced and modest. She sensibly asked for the setting up of a national product safety agency and a trusted website on which all recalls can be mapped. But, in response, all ministers offered was a steering group to consider the implications, which to most of us looks like a kick into the long grass.

But the current recall system is not fit for purpose and we all know this, including – I suspect – the Government itself. It depends far too much on the consumer rather than the manufacturer taking action, particularly with regard to registering the product and updating details when, for example, the buyer moves house. We all know from experience how easy it is to forget or simply not get around to registering our new product.

I would also like to see an enhanced role for Trading Standards, particularly in bringing consumers and manufacturers together in a more ‘joined-up’ approach and in undertaking more product safety research. Unfortunately Trading Standards has suffered from chronic underfunding in recent years, but we will not make headway unless they are placed at the centre of any solution.

I am not suggesting that there are no good recall systems out there. Clearly some manufacturers take the recall process more seriously, perhaps realising that it does make good sense to look after customers a little. Nor am I suggesting that the problem is confined to ‘white’ or household appliances; the recent Volkswagen emissions scandal demonstrates that it not only the makers of tumble dryers who are tardy when it comes to writing their wrongs.

The Government needs to act now. The steering group, which has not produced one report yet and is due to disband in early November, should be followed by a clear commitment to implement the recommendations of Lynn Faulds Wood’s report, properly backed and resourced. The time has come to out the needs – and lives – of consumers first.

5.00 avg. rating (93% score) - 1 vote
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Yvonne Fovargue MP
Yvonne Fovargue MP is the Labour MP for Makerfield in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan. Elected for the first time in 2010 and re-elected in 2015 Ms Fovargue has held a number of shadow portfolio roles including Consumer Affairs & Science. She is the current Chair of the All Party Group for Debt & Personal Finance.
  • Shadow Warrior

    Hammond is continuity Brown. He is a hand-wringing lefty looking for clever wheezes to raise more tax in ways that people don’t immediately notice.

  • captainslugwash

    I predict the Budget will attempt to show the Left how caring the Tories are, and it will be funded by screwing over the working man.
    If Corp Tax comes down, I bet Divi tax will be going up.
    I would love to be wrong.

  • skynine

    We really need to look at tax credits, in particular in work tax credits that encourage people to work part time to preserve the benefits. 45% of women work part time and I would hazard a guess that tax credits are the main cause. This leads to low pay, low skill work in supermarkets and the retail sector including coffee shops. The government needs to get back to the employer paying people to do a job for economic reasons rather than to get onto the tax credit ladder. Like all government benefits it distorts the market and diverts government expenditure into non productive areas.
    The refrain that the government has cut expenditure is not true, it increases every year as more and more goes into welfare.

  • MrVeryAngry

    fat chance

  • MrSauce

    So, when wouldn’t we want a ‘budget for growth’?

  • Rob

    I note that the UK Government has just slapped on a 25% tax charge for anyone moving abroad and wishing to move out their private pension from the UK.

  • SonofBoudica

    The Remoaners will do their utmost to sabotage the Government’s negotiating position. They do not want a successful outcome; they want a failure. They want to be able to scream “Told you so!” from the rooftops.

  • EnglandLaments

    Thank goodness for Andrew Neil, the one media hack who scares the pants off the established politicians. He was spot on with Heidi Allen!

  • joshuafalken

    I had a very long, hard, studied and considered look at the hope, care and aspirations of all Europeans, before I voted to get the UK out of the toxic grasp of Brussels.

    The European Union and it’s charge of “ever closer union” has borrowed and spent its way to oblivion, whilst enslaving the working and middle classes in debt.

    The central control mantra of the unaccountable Brussels ruling elite, delivered through a mixture of socialism, globalism and corporatism is entirely responsible for the populist revolt by the millions of “Just About Managings” across Europe.

    We must remember the ultimate goal of socialists, globalists and corporatists is control, not prosperity. see https://mises.org/blog/goal-socialists-socialism-—-not-prosperity.

    Social equality and economic growth always fail under central control and fighting against the Brussels doctrine on behalf of all Europeans is why I voted for Brexit.

    Britain has a long history of helping Europeans depose tyrants and Brussels is just the latest incarnation.

    Britain is the most racially advanced and accepting society on the planet. We welcome those in need and those that can help us with open arms and a smile; that will not change.

    We are also one of the most innovative, talented and open societies in the world, which why everyone wants to live here. However, we cannot fit everyone in, so we have to have clear, balanced and fair immigration policy which is where the arguments start between the monetarists and humanists will never be reconciled.

    I thought long and hard before coming to the conclusion that leaving the EU was in the best interest of all Europeans, as Brussels is toxic and cannot be reformed from within.

    Also, I find it insulting that people who voted Remain have insufficient faith in British ingenuity, compassion and skill to get a good deal for us and see the Europe that we love get a better deal from Brussels and the reform that European people deserve. https://mishtalk.com/2017/03/29/bad-brexit-deal-better-than-no-deal-mathematical-idiocy-odds-of-no-deal/ and https://www.worldheadlines.info/2017/03/after-brexit-9-reasons-to-be-bullish-on-great-britain/

    The politics of left verses right are dead because neither have delivered the promised economic growth and social mobility for anyone, but themselves. The populists are not selfish per-se, they just want to take back control of their own destiny that left/right politicians have freely given away and/or exploited for their own ends. In my constituency, the local residents group are taking over the councils as politicians ignore voters, so Westminster should beware of the well-organised, local resident independents at the next election. This is a peoples revolution which should be shouted from the rooftops, but liberals remained deafened by the socialist, globalist and corporatist “vested interests” that have spectacularly failed us and are obediently crying foul and fake.

    There will be an initial unpalatable inflationary cost to fighting globalism and rolling back central control that few appear to have factored in, but dismantling failed left/right vested interests should eventually free libertarian socially-conservative capitalism from the shackles of TBTF corporatism to feed economic growth and social mobility.

  • agdpa

    The EU usually makes the wrong decision – on immigration, on freedom of movement, on the euro, on the Ukraine, etc. etc. Little hope it will get Brexit right.

  • brownowl

    Eh? Reference please!

  • Neil2

    Sod caring. Screw the spongers and breeders. Kill HS2. Stop all “green” subsidies. Slash “foreign aid” and walk away from the EUSSR with immediate effect.

  • Rob
  • John C

    What a confused article. It conflates surveillance by the security services with poor defences against fraud.

  • John C

    Err, it’s the UK that’s leaving the EU, not vice versa.

  • John C

    Me, now. ‘Growth’ is a manic obsession.

  • La Face Nord

    Mr Redwood – are you aware of the Biased BBC website? It’s been exposing their agenda for a long time, but I imagine you’ve been well aware of the BBC’s agenda for quite some time…

  • Contact Rvtech

    The post is great

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