Is a recall under another name as effective?

Readers may have heard that discount furniture chain Ikea announced a massive “repair program” for its Malm line of dressers. The company and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said the dressers were unstable if not attached to the wall, and could injure small children when they tip over. As of July, when the repair program was announced, two children had died in Malm tip-over accidents.

Ikea sent more than 300,000 anchoring kits to U.S. consumers, and began a publicity campaign alerting people about the issue and reminding people with Malm dressers to attach them to the wall. But then, in February, another child was crushed. The boy’s parents said they never heard about the repair program.

This raises an issue among many safety advocates, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. They argue that consumers may get confused by the term “repair program” and not take it as seriously as a “recall.” More specific to this case, critics say Ikea’s plan to send consumers wall anchors does not go far enough, because too many people will not realize why it is necessary. Some are urging Ikea to issue a full-fledged recall of the dressers.

As consumers, we trust that the products we buy are safe for ourselves and our children. But manufacturers and retailers sometimes betray that trust, and serious injuries often are the result. Thanks to product liability laws, victims and their families can fight back against sloppy, negligent business practices.