EBay Announces New Product Recall Policy

EBay has announced a new policy to prevent recalled products from being sold on the popular online auction site. The move came after several random surveys of the EBay site found countless <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/product_liability">dangerous recalled products listed for sale.

Yesterday, EBay said that it would start sending warning notices to people who posted recalled items on the site. The company said that further violations of its recall policy could result in the seller losing the right to list products on EBay. The company is also warning shoppers to be extra careful before they bid on items, and is providing links to the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s (CPSC) website so that they can check if a product is recalled.

The EBay announcement comes after several high profile recalls were initiated over the summer. Since August 1, the CPSC has issued three separate recalls for hazardous, Chinese-made Mattel toys. The recalls involved toys with lead paint, and others that contained dangerous magnets that could cause intestinal injuries if swallowed by a child. Other dangerous products, including jewelry made for children, cribs, school supplies and clothing have all been recalled this summer.

But many of those items eventually end up being resold at thrift shops, garage sales and online. Earlier this summer, an article in the Injury Journal reported on a study done by the Center for Industry Research and Policy at Columbus Children’s Hospital. The researchers chose 141 children’s products that had been recalled between 1992 and 2004 and searched for them on EBay. The items included bassinets, walkers, furniture and riding toys. Recalled items were up for sale in 190 different auctions. The researchers also found that most of the recalled products received multiple bids, indicating that bidders were not aware of recalls. And nearly 70 percent of the items were sold, putting many more children at risk for injury.

EBay’s management concedes that it cannot police the estimated 559 million new and used items listed for sale on the site every year. EBay has always had a policy that prohibits recalled items, but the onus for identifying such products is usually placed on buyers and sellers. The site’s “security and resolution” page has a link to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) recall website, and both sellers and buyers are encouraged by EBay to check the CPSC site. EBay also takes down auctions if the CPSC informs the company that an item up for bid has been recalled. And the CPSC says that it has worked with EBay to create filters that reduce the chance of a recalled item being sold on the site.

Whether or not the new EBay policy will keep dangerous recalled items off the site remains to be seen. The best thing consumers can do to avoid buying such products on online auction sites like EBay is to become aware of product recalls, and check the status of any item before they consider buying it.

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