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May the Reseller Beware

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Thinking of hocking those recalled Thomas trains? Think again. The government might grab your profits ... and a whole lot more.

room with toys

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: It's garage/stoop sale season once more. Time to clean house and make a tidy profit in the process. But beware of what you peddle. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has put their feet down with respect to reselling recalled products -- to the tune of 15 million dollars!

FOX News reports a recently launched "Resale Round-up" that "enforces new limits on lead in children's products and makes it illegal to sell any items that don't meet those limits or have been recalled for any other reason."

The article also quotes CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum: "Those who resell recalled children's products are not only breaking the law, they are putting children's lives at risk. Resale stores should make safety their business and check for recalled products and hazards to children."

But it doesn't seem to make allowances for the little guy who unintentionally sells off one of the many toys on the list that contain lead paint, for example. If you're busted for selling anything on this list, you could be slapped with a $100,000 fine per infraction, and up to $15 million for a related series of infractions. That's some serious cash.

The CPSC spokesman featured in the article says he's going after the big guys, the corporate resellers, not the little guys, but acknowledges that these considerable penalties are also designed to encourage smaller resellers "to take the right steps to not resell recalled products."

Here's a link to the CPSC's Handbook for Resale Stores and Product Resellers, as well as their website.

I get the whole public safety issue, and OF COURSE no one should knowingly endanger innocent kids by reselling recalled items. That's just gross. But aren't these draconian measures a bit extreme?

There are many sticking points:

A) Did you know about this law before clicking on this article? Case in point. Many, many folks are clueless about it, so the margin for error is humongous.

B) There are so many damn products on that list, it would be quite a challenge to conduct a thorough cross-check before having a sale, so who's actually going to do it?

C) Folks that have garage sales usually need the cash. What's the point of leveling a fine on someone who can't afford to pay it?

And lastly, D) How do they plan on enforcing this among mom-and-pop retailers and folks on eBay? Is there a secret garage sale task force we all need to be concerned about? A covert po-po to rummage through used poo-poo?

Jus' sayin. What do you folks think? Are these penalties extreme or necessary?

next: The Uncle Question
2 comments so far | Post a comment now
PlumbLucky September 21, 2009, 6:45 AM

Sounds like “hurry up” legislation pushed through by folks who haven’t yet been to a garage sale and don’t have children.
For example - our son’s high chair…wasn’t originally included in the recall for the Evenflo Majestic mess, but then WAS added at a later date…and that is just ONE of the confusing examples. And since it was a “fix kit”, how do they enforce that little provision?

PlumbLucky September 21, 2009, 7:00 AM

Just for kicks - here is the recall list for non-toy children’s products for September 2009. One month!

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