Recalls get lots of press and create plenty of worry, but what happens to all of those toys after they are pulled off of store shelves?
MSNBC is reporting that a good percentage of recalled toys are ending up on EBAY and receiving bids from unsuspecting parents.
The recent toy recalls by Mattel, Fisher-Price, and RC2 (Thomas & Friends) were so big they were splashed on the front pages of newspapers across the country and were on national news broadcasts for days. But most recalled children’s products — indeed most of the 400 products of all kinds recalled each year — get little or no news coverage. That could be a major reason why fewer than 20 percent of these potentially dangerous products ever are returned.
What happens to them? In most cases, they remain in use, their owners unaware of the danger. Others are sold at garage sales or donated to thrift stores. They are also available on the Internet, which makes it possible for them to be resold at much higher prices.
According to a study published in this month’s Injury Prevention journal, a significant number of children’s products, including toys, are listed for sale on eBay. In many cases, these items had been recalled years earlier. Potential hazards include cuts, bruises, burns and and lead paint poisoning.
Researchers randomly picked 141 children’s products recalled between 1992 and 2004 and searched for them on eBay. They included bassinets, baby walkers, dolls, infant furniture and riding toys.
Kirschman and co-author Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus Children’s Hospital, found recalled items for sale at 190 different auctions.
Once the items were located, the auctions were tracked for 30 days. Here are the key findings from the study:
- Most of the items had multiple bids, suggesting parents were not aware of the problem.
- Nearly 70 percent of the recalled items were sold, placing other children at risk of injury.
- Sellers were experienced and reputable. Most had been registered with eBay for an average of 20 months and had 99.5 percent positive feedback ratings.
“We have been working very closely with the CPSC for a number of years now to educate buyers and sellers about recalls,” eBay spokeswoman Nichola Sharpe told me via e-mail. “If the CPSC asks us to remove an item we will take it down.”
The average parent doesn’t make the time to stay current with recalls. If something they want is a good price – they will buy it.
Unfortunately, it takes a tragic event to create awareness about unsafe products.