New report: ‘Too much to recall’ shows difficulty getting refunds for recalled products

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WASHINGTON – You find out your air fryer or power tool or child’s bicycle is dangerous and has been recalled. You’re told you just need to contact the company for a refund or replacement. Easy, right?

In too many cases, not so much. Quite the opposite. 

In 2023, 323 consumer products were recalled in coordination with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Amazon, Target, Ikea and Yeti are among the companies that announced recalls last year. 

More than half of the recalls that offer refunds make consumers jump through unnecessary, time-consuming hoops to get their money back, according to Too Much to Recall, a new analysis by U.S. PIRG Education Fund. The onerous requirements may include shipping the product back or returning it to a store to get a refund that’s as little as $3 or $6. You may have to contact the company and then wait for a form to fill out, a process that can take multiple steps over days or weeks. 

“It’s bad enough that the company manufactured a product that could hurt someone or burn down your house. Shouldn’t they at least make it as easy as possible to get your money back?” said Teresa Murray, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s consumer watchdog and author of the report. “It’s clear that some of these companies are just trying to discourage us from asking for resolution.”

Too Much to Recall looks at how easy or difficult it is to request a refund, repair or replacement for a recalled product. We grade the recalls on four issues: Being able to complete a request online, the time it takes, if you can get a cash refund instead of a voucher and if you have to return the product instead of submitting a proof of purchase or a photo of the product. Only one-quarter of all 323 recalls earned an A grade for the ease of requesting a refund.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund also offers tips for consumers to find out about problem products, sometimes before you buy them. In addition, we offer policy recommendations for Congress to help consumers easily get a refund or other resolution for a recalled product.

To reach Teresa: [email protected] or 216-202-0496.