What should you do when a product has a defect? Sometimes a defective product simply doesn’t work as it should and you can choose to exchange it or return it. However, some defective products can pose a health or safety hazard, and that’s when you know it’s time to report it and take legal action if necessary. Here is how you should report a defective product.
When Should You Make a Report?
It is of utmost importance to file a report when a product is found to be harmful or potentially harmful to consumers. You can report many types of products to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but there are products that the CPSC does not have jurisdiction over. If you’re not sure which agency to report to, check out this list to identify the category to which your product belongs.
Note: the basic information given in the remainder of this article assumes you will be reporting to the CPSC.
How Do I Make a Report?
You can make a report to the CPSC via mail, email, phone, or online form.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
(800) 638-2772; TTY (301) 595-7054
What Do I Need to Make a Report?
There are 8 basic pieces of information you will need when you make a report, but the more information you have to give, the more thorough and complete your report will be. They include:
- Description of the product
- Name of the manufacturer, importer, or private labeler of the product
- Description of illness, injury, or death related to the product or risk of illness, injury or death
- Date when such illness, injury or death occurred, or when you first became aware of the potential for harm related to the product
- Description of who you are—consumer, retailer, health care professional, government agency or officer, safety professional, etc.
- Your name and mailing address
- Your permission to publish your report
- Verification that your report is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge
What Happens After You File a Report?
After you file your report, it will be reviewed by CPSC staff. If they feel further action is needed, an investigation may be undertaken. If an investigation is already underway, your report may be added to the investigative file.
Do You Have to Make a Report?
You are only obligated to make a report if:
- You are a manufacturer, retailer, or importer of the product, AND:
- The product could cause serious risk of illness, injury, or death to consumers
- The product has caused illness, injury, or death
- A child chokes on a product or portion of a product to the extent of needing medical attention
- The product fails to comply with existing safety rules, standards, or other regulations or bans
If you are a consumer, you are not legally obligated to file a report. However, your report could help others avoid illness, injury, or death.
If you have recently experienced harm due to a defective product, we recommend you report it as soon as possible. We also recommend that you know your rights and seek legal action to hold manufacturers, retailers, and importers accountable. Please contact us if you have any questions about a potential defective product case.