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Big W has taken out the top spot in a list that no retailer really wants to appear on: the most-recalled children’s and baby products of the past five years.
The list was compiled by Choice staffers who delved back to 2015 in the government’s product recall website to identify the stores that cropped up more than others.
In first place was Big W with a total of 23 kids’ product recalls, followed by Target with 17 recalls and Japanese variety store Daiso with 11 recalls.
In joint fourth position were online shopping club Ozsale and BabyBunting with 10 recalls each ahead of Kmart’s nine recalls. French sports retailer Decathon and Amazon rounded out the list with eight and four recalls respectively.
A Big W spokesperson told Choice that its product recall rates had decreased over the last five years.
“On average, less that 0.1% of our range has been the subject of a recall during the five year period that CHOICE is investigating, and that figure falls to 0.03% for 2020,” the spokesperson said.
“Our trading terms require suppliers to have strong controls to ensure that the products they supply are safe, legal and compliant to Australian standards,” they added.
‘Ticking time bombs’
Choice editor Marg Rafferty warned parents of the potential dangers of failing to return recalled kids’ products such as toys, games and clothing to the store.
“These products could be ticking time bombs in your home,” she said.
An ACCC report in October 2019 found that retailers receive about half of the 650 or so of all products that are recalled for safety reasons every year ever, meaning the remaining half was still with customers.
At the time of the report, it was thought that about 1.7 million dangerous products (excluding motor vehicle recalls) were still in people’s homes posing a deadly risk.
“In Australia, two people die and 145 people are injured every day by unsafe consumer products,” ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.
Kids’ and baby products make up around 40 per cent of all product recalls, with some of the most common reasons for recalls being missing fire safety warning on nightwear, choking hazard from toys with small parts, risk of eye and facial injuries from projectile toys and inadequately secured button batteries.
In October, Kmart’s popular $25 Wooden Climbing Ladder was withdrawn from sale following “a small number of customer complaints.”
Rafferty called out the ‘disgraceful’ lack of product safety laws that contribute to such a high rate of recalls across the board.
“Product recalls from stores like Big W and Target are still just a band-aid solution to the core problem – it’s too easy to sell unsafe products in Australia,” she said.
“Generally, department stores and their manufacturers aren’t required by law to make sure their products are safe before sale and that’s disgraceful,” she added.
According to a 2019 Choice survey, an alarming amount of Aussie shoppers — 93 per cent — are unaware that proactive product safety laws don’t actually exist.
If customers discover they own a recalled product they’re encouraged to return it to the retailer for a refund.
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