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Don’t Kid Around With Children’s Product Recalls

Yard sale. Garage sale. Rummage sale. Whatever you call it, as the weather warms up, many people will be buying and selling used goods from neighbors. Children’s goods are some of the top items, for good reason. Kids outgrow products quickly, and with the sheer number of items needed from infancy to pre-teen years, it is understandable that parents want to get some of their money back. But how many are checking to see if the products are under recall? If they don’t, and the dangerous product gets passed along – often without usage and age limitation warnings – additional incidents and injuries can arise. In those cases, companies may have to reannounce the recall, putting them back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The resale market is just one pitfall when it comes to children’s product recalls. Others include:

  • Not recognizing it as a children’s product. The Consumer Product Safety Commission lays out the criteria for what is considered a children’s product vs one intended for “general use.” It is crucial for companies to understand these regulations to maintain compliance. But it is also important to recognize that the average consumer doesn’t care about the technical definition. If their child uses it, that is how they will view it. That is true even for products, such as medical devices and pharmaceuticals, that don’t fall under the CPSC’s jurisdiction at all but are commonly used by children. The level of sensitivity needed may be the same.
  • Failing to adapt to the technology. Products are becoming more advanced, and children’s products are no exception. That often means recall plans need a second look. For example, if a product involves a lithium-ion battery, manufacturers must be ready for the complex regulations involving transportation, returns, and disposal.
  • Lack of communication with retailers. During a recall, there are many things happening at once. Between managing the consumer response and the public relations fallout, it can be easy to overlook retailers or to under-communicate. Whenever possible, companies should ensure retailers are aware of the recall before it hits the media. Many children’s retailers take customer service seriously, and they need to have answers if shoppers come to them with questions about a product purchased in one of their locations. More importantly, retailers are the first line of defense when it comes to removing affected product and keeping it off the market in the first place.   
  • Insufficient infrastructure. Between traditional media and the popularity of mommy bloggers and other parental influencers, children’s product recalls can receive more than their share of attention. That means companies must be ready for the response with plenty of contact center agents and return capacity. 
  • Problematic remedies. Repairs are a great option for manufacturers and consumers alike. They are less expensive, and may be considered more convenient. But especially when a product carries a serious hazard, repairs alone may be considered inadequate by both regulators and consumers. In most cases, people appreciate having a choice. In any recall situation, leaders should consider what they would prefer and expect. After all, customers will remember the way it was handled more than the recall itself.  

With any recall, there are many factors to consider, but children’s recalls can often bring even greater challenges. Regardless of the specific circumstances, it all comes back to one thing: preparation. No recall plan can account for all the scenarios a company may encounter, but having one in place and then practicing is the single best way to weather the storm.  

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