- McClatchy Newspapers -
If you’re planning a garage sale or organizing a church bazaar, you’d best beware: You could be breaking a new federal law. As part of a campaign called Resale Roundup, the federal government is cracking down on the secondhand sales of dangerous and defective products.
The initiative, which targets toys and other products for children, enforces a new provision that makes it a crime to resell anything that’s been recalled by its manufacturer.
“Those who resell recalled children’s products are not only breaking the law, they are putting children’s lives at risk,” said Inez Tenenbaum, the recently confirmed chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The crackdown affects sellers ranging from major thrift-store operators such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army to everyday Americans cleaning out their attics for yard sales, church bazaars or — increasingly — digital hawking on eBay, Craigslist and other Web sites.
Secondhand sellers now must keep abreast of recalls for thousands of products, some of them stretching back more than a decade, to stay within the bounds of the law.
But don't worry. As with everything the government does, this program is totally benign and as always, FYOG.
- Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the agency, said it wouldn't be dispatching bureaucratic storm troopers into private homes to see whether people were selling recalled products from their garages, yards or churches.
"We're not looking to come across as being heavy-handed," he said. "We want to make sure that everybody knows what the rules of engagement are to help spur greater compliance, so that enforcement becomes less of an issue. But we're still going to enforce."
The agency is working with eBay, Wolfson said, to help the online sales giant install software filters that will flag auction items subject to manufacturers' recalls.
The commission's Internet surveillance unit is monitoring Craigslist and other "top auction and reselling sites" for recalled goods. If the agency discovers that a recalled product has been sold online, it will try to find and inform the buyer, Wolfson said.
Adele Meyer is the executive director of the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops, which represents more than 1,100 store owners.
"Even before it was criminal to resell recalled goods, our members have always been diligent because children's safety is always foremost in their minds," she said. "But having consumers look out for recalled products that are sold at garage sales and flea markets, that is a problem, and hopefully this law will help."
It's a problem? Really? I hadn't noticed. Have you? Oh well, nothing to worry about now. Big brother will set you straight!