Defective Products Are Being Sold through Secondhand Marketplaces

Young man looks at his phone and compares his credit card to the computer screen as he purchases a product.

Consumers Should be Aware That Product Recalls do Not Prevent Dangerous Products From Being Sold At Secondhand Marketplaces

Have you ever purchased a second hand product on a website like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay, or at an auction or a thrift store? When you buy products from these marketplaces, do you check to see whether those items have been subject to product recalls? According to a recent report from Consumer Reports, defective products often appear in second hand marketplaces. Sometimes, neither the seller nor the buyer even knows that the product has been subject to a recall due to a product defect. For example, the report claims that  numerous parents have bought and sold second hand Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper models in recent weeks without realizing that they had been recalled due to the risk of child death. 

Retail establishments that sell new products are required under the law to remove products from shelves that have been subject to recalls. In other words, it is illegal for retail establishments to sell known dangerous products. Yet this is also true for secondhand marketplaces. Although the law may not exactly put the burden on the seller, it could penalize  websites for allowing second hand sellers to list recalled items. While second hand marketplaces like Craigslist are supposed to be aware of recalls to prevent users from selling them, many defective products are still routinely bought and sold. Indeed, “when Consumer Reports did a search late last month of online platforms such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for the unsafe recalled sleepers, [it] found hundreds available.”

More defective products other than just recalled infant sleepers are listed on these platforms. Consumer Reports also “found at least a dozen recalled IKEA dressers listed on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace,” which pose serious risks of tip-over accidents. Since 2016, millions of IKEA dressers have been recalled after children suffered fatal injuries. Although Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and other similar online secondhand retail marketplaces “discourage the sale of recalled products,” any warnings that the website provides “don’t appear to be effective in stopping people from posting recalled items.”

Some secondhand marketplaces, however, do implement clear methods to prevent people from buying and selling defective products. For example, eBay uses filters designed to detect recalled listed products that have been subject to recalls, and E-bay also employs people who are tasked with identifying and removing dangerous products. Most problems occur when a person lists a product “generically,” failing to include identifying information that filters are designed to catch. Accordingly, consumers should verify that products sold online have not been recalled  in order to keep themselves safe.

Learning More About Product Recalls

The following are some key facts about product recalls from an article in Business Wire:

  • It often takes days, weeks, and sometimes even longer for retail establishments to remove recalled products from shelves, which can mean that a consumer still purchases a (new) recalled product;
  • Not all product recalls appear in national or local news sources, which means that consumers need to be proactive when it comes to learning about recalls by signing up for alerts from the FDA, NHTSA, and CPSC;
  • Not all consumer products are regulated by the government, which means that some dangerous products may not be recalled even if they have a defect; and
  • Defects can occur at every stage of the supply chain, from the design of a product to its sale.

If you or someone in your family suffered injuries after using a defective product, you should discuss your options with a product liability lawyer.

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