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26 Jan

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Gov’t Site to Make Product Complaints Public

January 26, 2011 | By | No Comments

The Feds are going social. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has launched the beta site SaferProducts.gov, Cynthia Boris at Marketing Pilgrim writes. The site, which officially launches in March, will allow consumers to publicly post complaints about product safety. The CPSC indicates that comments will be screened to meet just “minimum requirements for publication.”

The Commission says it will attempt to notify a manufacturer identified in a comment, giving the company 10 days to submit a response. Also, an Ad Age article notes there’s no guarantee the results of any CPSC investigation into a safety issue would be attached to the published complaints—so even if the manufacturer is exonerated of wrongdoing, that complaint may be a permanent part of the brand’s online presence.

Just as Boris points out, it’s one thing when a product has the genuine potential for injury—or worse, actually does injure somebody. But what about the customer who complains that a product produced an injury but neglects to mention it happened because the customer didn’t follow manufacturer guidelines? What about the customer who brands a product unsafe because it didn’t work as expected or the customer was having a bad day or because they altered it, etc.?

Will the site—which Ad Age likened to a government-sanctioned Yelp—become a reputation management nightmare for brands?

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