The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Family Dollar Inc., of Matthews, N.C. has agreed to pay a $100,000 civil penalty to settle allegations that the company failed to report defects with electric blankets. The penalty has been provisionally accepted by the Commission.
"This penalty should send a message to retailers that they are just as responsible as manufacturers for reporting defects or hazards with consumer products," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton.
CPSC alleged that Family Dollar Inc. failed to report to the government in a timely manner that electric blankets the firm sold could overheat and catch on fire.
Family Dollar Inc. sold about 9,000 of the electric blankets between November 2003 and February 2004. During that time, the firm received at least 40 reports of malfunctions with the electric blankets, including fire, scorching, or smoke damage; and nine reported injuries, consisting mainly of minor skin burns.
The Commission does recognize that Family Dollar Inc. acted to protect the public by stopping sale of the electric blankets in February 2004 by instituting its own recall in March 2004. However, Family Dollar Inc. did not report the problem to CPSC until after the Commission requested the firm to do so. Therefore, CPSC believes that Family Dollar Inc. failed to meet its reporting obligations.
The Commission ultimately announced the recall of the electric blankets in November 2004. They were manufactured by Bilt-Safe Technologies Inc., of Erwin, Tenn, also known as International Home Fashions Inc. For more information about the recall, contact Bilt-Safe Technologies at (800) 905-0799.
In agreeing to settle the allegations, Family Dollar Inc. denies it violated the Consumer Product Safety Act by failing to report defects with its electric blankets in a timely manner.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to help ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals -– contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to www.SaferProducts.gov or call CPSC's Hotline at 800-638-2772 or teletypewriter at 301-595-7054 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain news release and recall information at www.cpsc.gov, on Twitter @USCPSC or by subscribing to CPSC's free e-mail newsletters.
Please use the below phone number for all media requests.
Phone: (301) 504-7908
Spanish: (301) 504-7800