The Consumer Product Safety Commission has launched a new website, Saferproducts.gov
, the first consumer product database of its kind. The agency says that "Through SaferProducts.gov, consumers, child service providers, health care professionals, government officials, and public safety entities will be able to submit reports of harm (Reports) involving consumer products. Manufacturers (including importers) and private labelers identified in Reports will receive a copy of the Report, and will have the opportunity to comment on them."
It's likely that a number of companies will be upset about the new site and its feature that allows consumers to submit forms about unsafe products. Of course, what is "unsafe" will be largely subjective, although the agency will apparently review some comments.
The entire site will not be live until sometime in April. Manufacturers will be allowed to file their own comments about complaints for up to 10 days before the complaints go "live." This could be a nightmare for large consumer products companies, which may need to wade through scores of complaints. Businesses will have to register with the site to be able to post responses.
The Achilles Heel of the site may be that it is subject to random comments from consumers that are inaccurate or possibly part of campaigns against companies that are unrelated to product flaws.
The site is a good idea, theoretically, but like most every other "open" comment website, abuse by both consumers and companies will be hard to regulate.