Twelve witnesses offered testimony at the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade’s hearing Thursday on draft legislation to repair the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. A dozen witnesses makes for a wearisome hearing, but it tells you that there’s a lot in the CPSIA that needs to be fixed.

Testifying on behalf of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, Charles A. Samuels expressed support for the draft bill’s fixes to the product safety complaint database. As currently structured by the CPSC, the database encourages the reporting of inaccurate or purposefully false claims, doing damage to a company or a product’s reputation without an opportunity for manufacturers to provide an effective, timely response. Samuels summarized:

The existing database procedures do not comport with the original intent of the CPSIA which is that reports should only be posted from those who are harmed, their family or representatives or actual public safety agencies. Nor do the CPSC procedures require resolution of well-founded claims of material inaccuracy before reports are posted or require sufficient information such that manufacturers can respond to and evaluate the reports. The draft legislation resolution goes a long way to resolve these issues.

The legislation’s tightening of the definitions of who may report on the database will improve and focus the database while retaining the important roles of consumer groups, trial attorneys, and industry representatives on CPSC matters. The legislation’s requirements for resolution of claims of material inaccuracy before posting on the internet will add quality and fairness to the database, and the procedure for ascertaining specific models will enhance the value of the program to consumers, manufacturers and CPSC.

A database full of bad information does not serve the interests of consumers or manufacturers.

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