New method for product recalls to help protect consumers

By Paul Hayes

CANBERRA, ACT: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced plans for significant changes to the way consumers are informed about product recalls.

Recent research has suggested that the current process is inefficient and Australians may be at risk of using faulty products that they don’t know have been recalled.

“Product recalls are a crucial part of the Australian consumer product safety system – over the past 23 years, more than 10,000 recalls have taken place. In 2009 there were 779 recalls in Australia, some involving many thousands of products,” said ACCC deputy chair, Peter Kell.

"However, consumer responses to product recalls have varied widely and in some cases have been nearly non-existent.”

Chris Zinn, spokesperson for the independent consumer advocacy group, Choice, told Current.com.au in April that the traditional avenues of the ACCC’s product recall safety website and newspaper advertising is not a wide enough net.

“Thousands of people are injured every year, so there certainly are (risks). It is very hard to engage people.”

According to Kell, the ACCC report details how best to highlight recalls and aims to increase awareness.

“The report recommends suppliers be expected to develop recall communication plans that target consumers based on demographics and communication preferences, including making greater use of social media and online forms of communication such as websites and blogs to advertise product recalls.

“There is a real need for suppliers to implement tailored communications strategies in the event of a recall.

The days of relying just on newspaper advertisements as the major method of communication are past.”
 

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