We know recalls happen. They’re unfortunate, but they happen.
In fact, they happen to such a degree (more than 50 in products and food alone last month) that the federal government adopted the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in 2008, which addresses recalls in various sections.
But even with an emphasis on compliance and safety standards, recalls and how companies manage them are as varied as the industries to which they belong.
No law directly addresses how a company must communicate their recall, so long as they make a good-faith effort to remedy the situation and contact their customers.
The law only says, in part, for infant and toddler products, the CPSC will “regularly review recall notification technology and assess the effectiveness of such technology in facilitating recalls.”
Although more than 75 percent of the U.S. population used the Internet last year, many manufacturers mail letters to reach their customers or use other “traditional” methods of contacting them.
But companies that boost their online presence and that are able to handle their recalls on the Web, either in house or through third-party organizations, show an increased ability to spread information about their recall and also to recover those products.
Phil and Teds, a company that makes strollers and other products for infants, used an arsenal of CPSC press releases, emails to consumers, emails to retailers, posters and digital media to contact their customers.
Jason Crowe, U.S. and Canada country manager for Phil and Teds, said having a standardized protocol for handling recalls and contacting customers is important. “If you’re in manufacturing these days, you have to have one. We expect to have more, and we want to be prepared for those,” he said.
John Deere, during their recall of three tractors in one week, mailed out letters to their customers due to their unique purchasing process for Deere products. See how they handle their recalls in ways that many other companies can’t.
Kraft Foods relied on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) press release and an announcement on their websites to get in touch with consumers. Lynne Galia, a spokesperson for Kraft, said the company wasn’t mailing letters or emails at the time to connect with customers.
As companies move toward more web-based methods of notifying consumers, some companies, like B Toys take it a step further and leverage social media to spread their message with great success.
Sarajane Sparks, representing B. Toys, said their blog network is something they take pride in after building relationships with parents and also toy review sites.
“We told a lot of the mom bloggers immediately and they were helpful in spreading the word,” said Sparks.
“Mom-to-mom is a very important bond in sharing news and spreading opinions.”
Phil and Teds is another company that understands the importance of social media during recalls. Considering their online presence, Phil and Teds tries to be as transparent as possible with their recalls, no matter how they contact their customers.
“We just try to be honest. You have to be open and upfront and get it done, ” Crowe said,
“Being quiet is not the way to go.”
Have you been contacted about a recalled product recently? Tell us about that in the comments.