Before heading out to local thrift shops or garage sales to find new inventory to list online, it could be time well spent to first do a Google search for recalled items.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal agency, is cracking down on the resale of items that have been recalled in the past and pose dangers to consumers, specifically children. The agency announced it will begin monitoring the sale of goods on sites such as eBay and Craigslist, as well as secondhand stores. It's also working with eBay to install software filters that detect when recalled items are posted on the auction site.
"Those who resell recalled children's products are not only breaking the law, they are putting children's lives at risk," notes Inez Tenenbaum, chairwoman of the CPSC. "Resale stores should make safety their business, and check for recalled products and hazards to children."
The crackdown comes as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act takes effect, placing more stringent requirements on manufacturers and sellers of children's products.
If commission officials spot a transaction involving a recalled item, they will attempt to contact the buyer and could fine sellers up to $100,000, according to news reports.
Recalled and defective toys have caused "severe injuries or deaths," the commission notes. One recalled item, a Polly Pocket doll, posed a choking hazard for little girls because some of the doll's tiny magnets had a tendency to come loose.
70 percent of resale stores sell at least one recalled or otherwise hazardous product
To help educate sellers and buyers about dangerous toys, the agency recently released a list of the 10 most dangerous recalled children's products. A handbook is also being distributed with guidelines for resale stores and product resellers. And staff members of the federal agency are "fanning out across the country" to tell thrift stores about regulations, according to news reports. Officials know that during tough economic times, buyers look to thrift stores to find items at lower prices, so the education is important, they say.
According to a 1999 study by the commission, almost 70 percent of resale stores sell at least one recalled or otherwise hazardous product.
"We're not looking to come across as being heavy handed," Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the agency, tells the Kansas City Star. "We want to make sure that everybody knows what the rules of engagement are to help spur greater compliance, so that enforcement becomes less of an issue. But we're still going to enforce."
Sellers can view recalled items by visiting the CPSC's Web site.
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.