published Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Consumer Watch: Hall of Shame recalls that kept on selling


by Ellen Phillips

And finally to conclude this Hall of Shame recall and bad boys list, I can't end without listing these "boys" who dropped the ball about their defective products.

Even with settlements, the companies denied any intentional wrongdoing, and I list them in the order of the amount of the fines paid. Obviously, if you have any of these products, return them immediately to the manufacturer for exchange or refund.

• Aqua Dots craft kits, sold from April to November 2009, are a major culprit, as the manufacturer continued to sell the kits even after it knew kids had swallowed the candylike beads with a toxic coating.

• The 1.8 million Auto Fire target sets, sold at Family Dollar stores from September 2005 to January 2009, had darts that could lodge in a kid's throat. It took four years and three deaths before the manufacturer finally took the product off the market.

• Black and Decker's Grasshog XP model GH1000 trimmer/edgers sold from November 2005 to spring 2007. Problems occurred when the high-powered weed wacker overheated or its parts went flying.

• Children's hooded jackets and sweatshirts have been a major issue with sales of 70,000-plus sold at Bloomingdales, Macy's and Robinson-May stores from 2006-10, 55,000 Ms. Bubbles jackets sold at JC Penney, Foreman Mills and TJ Maxx from August 2006 through December 2007, over 6,000 Golden Grove and Young USA hooded fleece jackets sold at CVS in the Los Angeles area from August 2008-January 2009 and almost 16,000 Sunsations kids hooded sweatshirts sold in North Carolina, Ocean City, M.D., and Virginia Beach from March 2008 through November 20190. Strangulation can occur if these articles still are in use.

• Hewlett-Packard lithium battery packs sold both individually and with some Dell, HP or Toshiba notebooks numbered 35,000. These sold from December 2004 to June 2006 and are known to cause fires and injuries.

• Ballat's Magnibuild Magnetic Building Sets were sold from August 2004 to February 2008. They contain small magnets that children swallowed, resulting in injuries and even one death.

• Bad Boy Classic Buggies had a problem with their suddenly accelerating off-road utility vehicle. Sold with Series motors from 2003-07 and SePex motors sold from 2007 to June 2010, they didn't issue a recall until December 2010, following reports of injuries.

• Topy beach chairs sold at Build-a-Bear workshops and online from March 2001 through October 2008 numbered 260,000. The sharp edges of the folding wooden frame can pinch, cut or even amputate a child's fingertip. Build-a-Bear didn't report this problem to the Consumer Product Safety Commission until March 2009.

• Bally Total Fitness, Body Fit, Everlast and Valeo "burst resistant" fitness balls do burst. From May 2000 to February 2009, the balls injured folks.

• The 45,000 Viking refrigerators sold from July 1999 through April 2006 had defective hardware that caused the door to loosen or even to fall off.

As another note with a Happy Halloween wish, follow safety precautions I've written about in years past to protect your kiddies this Halloween.

about Ellen Phillips...

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business.

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