The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) only examines a small percentage of the products it regulates, often deferring judgement to the companies that sell them. The system expects companies like Dollar Tree or Target to monitor their suppliers and turn themselves in if they discover that a product they sell is actually dangerous to consumers. Of course, in an ideal world, this might seem plausible, but the reality is that companies often do not self-regulate as they should, resulting in a number of dangerous products for sale.
Dollar Tree is among the top offenders when it comes to dangerous products, and is currently under investigation by the CPSC regarding their issues with product safety. Target and Zulily have received complaints as well, incurring a number of safety violations over the past couple of years. Dollar Tree’s violations include excessive levels of lead and phthalates in children’s products, the former of which has been nearly banned from such products.
Consumers are often the ones who shed light on the safety violations of these companies. When their reports regarding defects, injuries, or accidents are ignored, the safety agency intervenes and penalizes the company for failing to acknowledge and rectify their violations of consumer safety. In fact, the CPSC maintains a public database of these complaints, allowing consumers to not only lodge their complaints, but to access and view the complaints of others who may have also shared their experience with a product.
While the online public database is certainly helpful, the faults within the system allow companies to conduct business virtually unchecked, with only a marginal amount of products going through the rigorous process of inspection. The majority of them, unfortunately, end up filtering through the large cracks of the CPSC, eventually landing on shelves for consumers to purchase at their own peril.