Government to Put Product Safety Info Online

Manufacturers worry that a new government information bank could become a gold mine of information for class action suits.

Want to know whether that trampoline you’re thinking of buying the kids is safe? Come March, an online database from the government will make it easier to find out. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is well on its way to creating one, as mandated by Congress in the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. The database will be easily searchable and available to the public, allowing consumers both to report problems with products and to research safety records for them.

Manufacturers aren’t particularly happy with the idea. They worry that the database will become a complaint forum for disgruntled purchasers with beefs about prices, warranties, service or other concerns. The CPSC says, however, that the database will be limited to reports of legitimate safety worries. Even that raises concerns among manufacturers, though; they fear the database may become a breeding ground for lawsuits, with lawyers mining it for class action suits.

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Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter