Rare recall: Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors sold on Amazon recalled, but manufacturer reneges on refunds

About 6,800 detectors from China believed hazardous because of failed safety tests

Courtesy of CPSC | Public Domain

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In a rare occurrence, a hazardous product has been recalled through the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) without the manufacturer cooperating with the agreed-upon remedy.

About 6,800 Chzhvan brand combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors were recalled this month because they can fail to activate, which means they could fail to warn people about a fire. At least five complaints were filed about the smoke detectors not detecting the presence of smoke. No injuries were reported in connection with the malfunctioning smoke detectors. 

The products were imported by Haikouhuidishangmaoyouxiangongsi of China. 

The company initially consented to a recall and planned to issue refunds, according to the original May 16 notice from the CPSC. The company then pulled back. “The firm has been uncooperative in the implementation of the recall. Consumers are urged to dispose of the product,” the CPSC said on May 20. There is no refund or recourse available to consumers.

The smoke detectors were sold on Amazon from August 2023 through January 2024. They cost $18 to $59.

Last year, the CPSC issued four warnings about seven different products – two carbon monoxide detectors and five combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. But none of them were recalled. While the CPSC issues news releases about warnings, they don’t carry the same weight with consumers or the media as recalls do.

The CPSC doesn’t have the authority to recall a product, no matter how hazardous it is, without either cooperation from the company or legal action.

All of the detectors involved were sold on Amazon. In all of these cases from last year, consumers who owned these devices were urged to stop using them, throw them away and get new detectors that work. People were also told not to buy, give away or sell these devices if they find them available:

  • On May 18, 2023, the CPSC should stop using Bqqzhz brand combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. They failed specific smoke sensitivity tests in violation of the safety standard UL 217. They were sold on Amazon for about $46
  • On April 13, 2023, the CPSC said consumers should stop using three brands of combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, Petricor, Varwaneo and Wjztek. All three failed specific smoke sensitivity tests in violation of the safety standard UL 217. They were sold on Amazon for $15 to $53.
  • Also on April 13, 2023, the CPSC said consumers should stop using Okeah digital combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. They failed carbon monoxide sensitivity tests that measured whether they alert people to specific concentrations of carbon monoxide (400 ppm), a violation of the safety standard UL 2034. They also failed smoke sensitivity tests when exposed to specific concentrations of smoke, a violation of the safety standard UL 217.They were sold on Amazon for $25 to $75.
  • On March 16, 2023, the CPSC said consumers should stop using Glbsunion and Cuzmak digital combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. They failed carbon monoxide sensitivity tests that measured whether they alert people to specific concentrations of carbon monoxide (400 ppm), a violation of the safety standard UL 2034. They were sold on Amazon for $16 and $40.

When people die in residential fires, most deaths are caused by smoke inhalation, not flames or heat, the CPSC says. When there’s a residential fire and the smoke alarm goes off, people often have as little as one or two minutes to get out before the smoke incapacitates or kills them. In a home without a smoke alarm, the risk of dying is twice as high, the CPSC said. 

The CPSC recommends that all homes have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the structure. Detectors should be battery-powered or at least have a battery backup and should meet UL 2034 and UL 217 safety standards.

WHERE’S MY MONEY?
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for any recalled product?
File a complaint with the CPSC

HAVE A PROBLEM?
Did you encounter an injury or other incident involving a consumer product? Tell the CPSC at
SaferProducts.gov

STAY SAFE
To keyword search products with recalls or complaints, go to cpsc.gov/recalls and SaferProducts.gov

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Authors

Teresa Murray

Consumer Watchdog, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Teresa directs the Consumer Watchdog office, which looks out for consumers’ health, safety and financial security. Previously, she worked as a journalist covering consumer issues and personal finance for two decades for Ohio’s largest daily newspaper. She received dozens of state and national journalism awards, including Best Columnist in Ohio, a National Headliner Award for coverage of the 2008-09 financial crisis, and a journalism public service award for exposing improper billing practices by Verizon that affected 15 million customers nationwide. Teresa and her husband live in Greater Cleveland and have two sons. She enjoys biking, house projects and music, and serves on her church missions team and stewardship board.

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