What to do if a toy you own is recalled

The recent increase in toy recalls has many parents worried, but it’s even more stressful when you find out you actually have one in your home. Besides the safety concerns, there’s also the lengthy negotiation processes. Read on to find out how to deal with recalled toys in your home.

In 2008, more than 20 of toys had to be sent back to the factory because of harmful manufacturing defects. The figures are alarming considering less than a million were recalled back in 2004—an increase of more than ten times! Needless to say, parents throughout the country are increasingly concerned about the safety of the toys they find on the shelves.

But besides the potential hazards, recalled toys often entail a tedious process of shipping, paperwork, and endless dealing with store managers and representatives. That’s why most parents don’t even bother getting a refund or replacement—the hassle is simply not worth it. But there are more efficient and less stressful ways to deal with the situation. If you find yourself with a recalled toy, here are some things you can do to get back your money’s worth.

Don’t just throw it out. If you think you’re saving yourself trouble by just throwing out your recalled toy, think again. Not only will you miss out on the refunds offered by the store, you also run the risk of harming other people who might pick up your trash. And if the product has environmental hazards as well, you might cause even more damage when the trash is incinerated.

Register your product. Not all toys can be registered with the manufacturer, but if you can, register it as soon as possible. Most companies will ask for a registration number or code before even looking at your complaint. While not registering won’t deny you of a refund, it can complicate the process and take a few weeks longer to get your dues.

Stay informed. It’s important to know your rights as the holder of a recalled product. Most recall incidents are settled between the manufacturer and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), so it can take a while before you get news of the product’s recall. The manufacturer should still accept the product—and offer all the same benefits—even years after the first announcement. They should also cover all costs, including shipping of the recalled item.

Talk to the store manager. Dealing directly with the manufacturer can be frustrating—chances are they’re getting a lot of similar calls and won’t have time to really attend to you. Instead, take your toy back to the store where you bought it and have them deal with the company. As trading partners, they’ll have better access to the manufacturer’s officials and the process will go much faster. Leading stores such as Toys R Us will give you a refund in the form of store credit for the recalled toy’s full value, so you’ll get what’s due in no time.

Never take replacements. Some manufacturers will offer another product, or an updated version of the recalled one, to replace your toy. More often than not, these replacements are of lower value or still have the same defects as the previous product. Some replacements may even be recalled again due to the same hazards. There are several other ways to give you back your dues, such as vouchers, store credits, gift certificates, or even your actual money back. 

Subscribe to the CPSC list. The CPSC has a constantly updated list of recalled toys on its website. If you’re a frequent buyer, you may want to sign up for email alerts on recalled items. This way, you can find out and take action immediately if one of your toys is on the list. Sometimes they even include a link to the manufacturer’s recall page, so you can contact them online instead of waiting through a dozen phone calls.

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