By: LINDSEY O'NEILL, ESQ.
I love eBay... just love it. The whole idea of it, the convenience, the opportunities, the company itself... not to mention the bargains! What you may not realize, however, is that consumer product safety laws and regulations apply to anyone who sells or distributes consumer products. The laws cover not only products resold at thrift stores, consignment stores, and charities, but also products sold by individuals holding yard sales, through online ads like those on Craigslist, and through online auctions like eBay.
While you aren't required to go so far as to test your products for safety, you can't knowingly sell products that do not meet the requirements of the law. AND ... ignorance of the law is not an excuse!
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a handbook for resellers of used products to help them comply with the law... and help keep unsafe products out of the hands of consumers.
Among the kinds of products you CAN'T resell are the following:
• Products that have been recalled by CPSC.
• Toys and other articles intended for use by children, and any furniture, with paint or other surface coatings containing lead over specified amounts.
• Products primarily intended for children age 12 or younger with lead content over a specific amount.
• Certain toys or child care articles that contain any one of six prohibited chemicals known as phthalates, which are primarily used as plasticizers.
• Other products that violate CPSC’s safety standards, bans, rules or regulations or otherwise present a substantial product hazard.
If you end up violating the consumer product safety laws, then you could be subject to a number of penalties! CPSC may respond in a variety of ways, however, depending upon the circumstances, including the nature of the product defect, the number of products, the severity of the risk of injury associated with the product and the type of violation.
By all means... don't freak out and stop selling your items on eBay! Just pay attention to what's in the news about dangerous or unsafe products (who hasn't heard about the lead paint issues with kids' toys), use your common sense, and it doesn't hurt to periodically check out the recalled products lists. You might be surprised to learn that CPSC recalls several hundred types of consumer products every year. Before taking selling a product, especially children's toys, cribs, and other kid stuff, check the CPSC Web site for dangerous recalled products. You can search by product type, company name, product description, hazard, country of manufacture and by the month and year in which the recall took place. Check out recalls at www.recalls.gov and other information at www.cpsc.gov. View the CPSC Handbook by clicking here.
Remember, if you have concerns about an unsafe product or have been injured by one, contact an attorney in your area today so you can best protect your legal rights.
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