All you need to know about product recalls

Tumble dryer situation
If you are looking for help with the tumble dryer situation please see Dodgy tumble dryers – your legal rights & what to do which will give you all the advice and laws you need to speed up engineers appointments and other redress.

When should a product be recalled?
Any product that could cause a safety risk must be recalled. Examples include food incorrectly labelled so may cause an allergy, a toy which is a choking hazard or a car that has a risk of catching fire.

The main responsibility falls on producers, manufacturers and importers to ensure that products are safe. More on the Government website here.

How should the products be recalled?
The law states that manufacturers must do as much as is practicably possible to inform customers and they have to publish a notice in such form and such manner as is likely to bring to the attention of purchasers of the product the risk the product poses and the fact of the recall. Producers and distributors must inform their local authority (typically, the Trading Standards Department). Products are then placed on the Trading Standards recall list, but other things can be done as well, such as adverts in papers, contacting customers directly, putting information on websites etc.

There are also other product recall websites that allow you to search the most recent product recalls:

Electrical items Electrical Safety Council.
For car & vehicle recalls visit the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) government agency website
Food & drugs it’s the Food Standards Agency (FSA)

More on the Government website  Check out your products online

What are the numbers of recalls?
The RPC undertook some research which found that UK product recalls jumped by 26% to a new high of 310 in 2014/15 from 245 in 2013/14. How many of those did you know about?! The number of food product recalls rose by 50%.

Is enough being done?
No in short. If you look at that list on the Trading Standards website you will see that at least one thing is added nearly every day and do we know about them? Nope.

What do Trading Standards say?
Leon Livermore, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute when talking about the tumble dryer situation, told 5 Live Breakfast: “The fact that Trading Standards sit within local government means they’re often stretched for resources.

“Central government itself does have back up powers to force people into recalls and to take action. So we would call on the government, in particular the Department for Business Innovation and Skills to take action before someone dies.”

He added: “I think it’s indicative of how the UK views consumer issues. Trading standards services have seen cuts of over 50% over the last few years and actually there hasn’t been an outcry from the public because a lot of this stuff goes on in the background.” More on these cuts and empowering consumers here.

What are your legal rights?
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to a full refund within 30 days after that time could be repair or replacement. If the item was bought after the 1st October, Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994.

The “General Product Safety Regulations 2005” dictates that manufacturers must make arrangements for the collection and/or return of the product for destruction from consumers who have purchased the product.

When a manufacturer issues a recall, they are effectively saying that they have identified issues with a number of goods produced from a specific batch on the production line. It does not automatically mean that the item in your possession is one of the problem items, however it is a warning and sometimes an offer of a modification is provided. It is not a legal requirement and the majority of times, a manufacturer will issue a recall to limit the number of negligence claims made against them.

What can consumers do?
Always register your electrical products. This means that it is easy for you to be contacted about any recall.

If you have concerns about the safety of a product you own, check the manufacturer’s website to see if a product recall has been issued.

Check the recall sites above.

Write to the CEO of companies use to find contact details when you have a product that is faulty and you think may be a wider problem and suggest a product recall and suggest that they do far more than they currently do to recall items!

The Consumer Protection Act 1987 states that if you are harmed by an unsafe product you can sue. You can begin your court case up to three years from the date of the injury. In some cases, you can even sue up to ten years after the product was sold. If for instance you sustain a personal injury or damage to your property it is in this instance where the manufacturer is responsible not the trader. The value of the damage must be more than £275.

When a manufacturer issues a recall, they are effectively saying that they have identified issues with a number of goods produced from a specific batch on the production line. It does not automatically mean that the item in your possession is one the problem items. However, it is a warning and sometimes is an offer of a modification. It is not a legal requirement and the majority of times, a manufacturer will issue a recall to limit the number of negligence claims made against them.

Keep an eye on recall product lists, register for updates.

What about the tumble dryer situation?
These items still haven’t actually been recalled. Which is ridiculous. More on the current situation, your legal rights and what you can do to speed up your engineer visit here.

Support the NHS challenge Hunt in judicial review

Hurrah. A group of NHS staff and patients announced today that they have instructed Bindman’s LLP solicitors to investigate judicial review proceedings.  Excellent news. So what is it all about and how can we the public help?

What is a judicial review?
It is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. So in this case the Health Secretary would have to provide evidence to justify the decisions he has taken and show that they are reasonable, viable and legal. Through this process, the group will uncover whether the government has considered the full implications of the dangers of this contract imposition, and whether the decision was legally made. I think we all know the answer to that one but unfortunately we have to go through the process to get it. 55,000 NHS staff wrong or a few MPs? Hmmmm.


The review
This will be a far-reaching judicial review centering on the detrimental impact of the proposed new contract on patient safety and stability of the NHS. While the BMA has already announced a legal action last week on grounds that the Health Secretary has failed to carry out an Equality Impact Assessment, the group of NHS staff and patients’ challenge is significantly broader in scope, examining many other aspects of the decision to impose a contract on junior doctors with issues of patient safety at its heart.

Dr Ben White said “Forget the lies and propaganda. The imposition of the junior doctors’ contract affects all NHS service users. Staff know that the lack of workforce planning, lack of cost modelling, plus rota and staffing issues, create a perfect storm where patient safety will inevitably be compromised. We must challenge this contract in the High Court. A judicial review would consider all relevant factors and hold the government accountable for decisions it has made. Ultimately, this is about public safety.”

The truth and lies behind the junior doctors’ strike
Dr Jacky Davis wrote a guest post a couple of weeks ago and in it describes the facts about the change in contracts and provides the information you need to know if you are in any doubt that what Hunt is imposing is safe for you and your family.

Dr Francesca Silman said “It is clear the government has not considered the implications of their plans- financially, practically or in terms of impact on patient safety. In a recent Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee review, it was suggested that the senior department of health chief, Charlie Massey, was ‘flying blind’ on this issue.  We cannot tolerate politics placed before patient welfare.”

In the same Public Accounts Committee review, David Mowat, MP, said “I am surprised that you can put this [7 day NHS] policy in place without having some idea of the implication for staffing levels at the headcount planning level … or, indeed, for cost and budget.”

Why is this review important?
Dr Phil Hammond, Vice-President of the Patient’s Association said “No one can say whether the new contract will be better or worse for patients than the existing one. Medicine is littered with examples where expert and political opinion has trumped proper scientific evaluation, at huge cost to patients. Please support this judicial review” He has already said “Test the science”, Hunt’s way and the doctor’s proposal, in different hospitals and see what works and he said a lot more sense too:

What can we do to help right now?
The group, backed by prominent medical staff and patient safety advocates are crowd funding through Crowd Justice. At the point of writing this the initial £25,000 needed to start investigation proceedings had been raised. It is unknown just how much needs to be raised in total as it will depend on how strongly the issues are disputed, whether other parties decide to support the challenges, how lengthy and complex the research will be, how many hearings will be needed and how long the final hearing is.

So please contribute to the fund. The page and more information can be found here: Crowd Justice donation page: Crowdjustice.

What else can we do to help?
If you want to help then there ARE things you can do and some of them will only take a few seconds of your time and all will help raise the profile of all the issues.

  1. Please read about what is happening to the NHS and its staff  and think about joining a campaign or a local patients group.
  2. Practical action could also include writing to your MP and to national and local papers to support the juniors, turning up at the picket lines on days of action
  3. The continued use of social media to dispel the lies put out by the government
  4. Share this post with friends and family
  5. Join the campaign – Keep Our NHS public
  6. Read up on the privatisation of the NHS at NHS for sale
  7. Follow and rt @keepnhspublic
  8. Sign the petition Consider a vote of No Confidence in Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary
  9. Sign the petition Jeremy Hunt to resume meaningful contract negotiations with the BMA
  10. Sign the petition Labour Party and TUC – call a national demonstration to support the junior doctors!
  11. Sign the letter asking asks David Cameron to show the BMA his plan for extended seven-day services here.
  12. Join the thunderclap here takes place 6.30pm 14th March 2016

Together we can save our NHS, please help. If you want the NHS to fight for you and your loved one’s health in the future you have to fight for it now, because otherwise it may not be there just when you need it.

Who’s bothered about Ts and Cs ?

Terms and conditions, who reads them? They are pages and pages of small print. How many of us tick the box that says “Agree to terms and conditions”, only to fall foul later when we need to complain?

This may be set to change following a call for evidence from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills for consumers to provide feedback regarding their experiences. The open consultation begins today and ends on 25 April 2016.

Helen Dewdney – Consumer Rights Blogger at The Complaining Cow and author of How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results – welcomes the call for evidence. Currently under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 consumers do have rights regarding unfair contracts. The law creates a “fairness test” to prevent consumers being put at an unfair disadvantage.

If a contract tilts the rights and responsibilities between the consumer and the trader too much in favour of the trader, then it can be deemed unfair. “That’s all well and good”, says Dewdney, “but when so few people know their basic consumer rights and even fewer know that they can challenge unfair terms and conditions then they are more likely to be fobbed off or be unable to cancel a contract”.

Dewdney should know as this is a topic she frequently advises on for people. For example, hidden charges within terms and conditions saying that ‘a charge’ could be made but not providing the amount until after the flight booking process. People are not aware that this illegal.

Nick Boles, Minister of State for Skills and Equalities, says in his foreword to the call for evidence document “on the rare occasions I have clicked on and opened ‘T&Cs’, I have found them to be very long, in small print and full of impenetrable jargon and legalese. That does not help anyone and certainly doesn’t encourage further engagement by customers”.

Dewdney agrees and also points out the need for people with disabilities to be considered more than they are now in this area. For example, an audio version of a terms and conditions document should be available as standard for those with vision difficulties.

There should also be recognition that more people are agreeing contracts online, so terms and conditions need to be easily readable on mobiles in addition to being fundamentally clearer and shorter. There should also be a requirement for companies to highlight changes to terms and conditions. For example when a bank sends pages of updated terms and conditions and you have no idea what has changed!

Dewdney hopes that the call for evidence will expose a plethora of examples of poor practice. She says “Undoubtedly people’s biggest gripes about t & c’s is the length of them and anything that leads to companies being forced to reduce this burden would be welcomed by the consumer.”

Note to editors

Government Improving terms and conditions consultation here

More about how to complain about unfair contract terms here and here.

Talking about Ts and Cs 18 months later: