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Friday
Mar112011

Federal Government Launches New Consumer Complaint Database

SaferProducts [dot] gov(WASHINGTON) -- The federal government is hoping to lessen accidents and injuries caused by consumer products by providing a database with safety information on a range of goods, including cribs, toys, and strollers.

Saferproducts.gov, the brainchild of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, launches Friday, and it's designed to help consumers get more information about products large and small.

The CPSC already collects reports of defective products from a wide range of sources, including consumers, health care providers, death certificates and media accounts, but most of that information is private.

The database was created as part of a consumer product safety law passed by Congress in 2008, and marks the first time the federal government will make public thousands of complaints it receives each year about the safety of various products.

The database will include only information about defects that result in injury or death, not complaints about reliability or quality, nor about food items, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, tobacco, automobiles, or tires.

When a consumer files a complaint, the CPSC has five days to notify the manufacturer, which in turn has 10 days to respond to the complaint.  The manufacturer can challenge the complaint as false, arguing that it will give away a trade secret or submit a response.

Complaints about a product will be posted to the database within 15 days.  If a manufacturer provides a response, it will be published alongside the complaint.  If a manufacturer says that a complaint is false or that to answer it would disclose confidential business information, the CPSC will decide whether to withhold or publish the complaint.

Those filing a complaint must identify themselves, but that information won't be published and will be disclosed to the manufacturer only with the consumer's permission.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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