CPSIA thoughts from a manufacturer/retailer: Cut that line

Don't wanna leave!
Creative Commons License photo credit: kyz

This morning I received a private comment from a reader. He gave me permission to repost it here.

Hello Mark

In Europe they have a “no lead policy” based on roHS (Lead Free). All the US components I buy are roHS compliant so that they may be sold in Europe.

I can also sell in Europe by simply documenting my purchases. I can not afford to sell in to the children’s market any longer in the USA as testing costs would exceed the Gross revenue of our children’s products. As of Feb 10th we will no longer make little backpacks for kids.

This is like a dream come true for China and Walmart. In about six months all the kids will be wearing green clothes with little red stars. The toys will have the same color scheme of course the selection might be a bit mundane.

Dave Sisson CEO
Jandd Mountaineering Inc

Hopefully, the pressure that all of you are putting on your Congressional reps and Senators is helping behind the scenes. Likewise, our calls to the CPSC. This situation is sickening and the timing simply couldn’t be worse.

Smoke, mirrors or an honest effort to fix the CPSIA?


Creative Commons License photo credit: L. Lew

Last week after I left for a winter camping trip with the Scouts, a letter to CPSC Chair Nord came flying out of the House from Waxman, Rush, Pryor and Rockefeller. I just got to the letter this evening, and it’s worthy of comment. 

You can read the Waxman-Rush letter to Chair Nord here.

Many of the proposals in the letter sound like they are listening, such as their suggestion that the commission approves component testing and that the CPSC’s commissioners get off their duffs and make some firm policy decisions. Having the general counsel issue non-binding statements with words like “may” when it comes to certain types of testing isn’t helping anyone comply with the law.

No one really wants exemptions and component testing is a good happy medium for many smaller vendors, but there are plenty of other decisions to be made, both by the CPSC and by Congress. Once Tuesday’s lovefest ends, it’ll be time to get down to real business – like fixing this law or temporarily rescinding it until it can be fixed so that it provides the safety needed without crushing small business. 

As Kathleen Fasanella suggests, “small business”  is in the eye of the beholder. That 500 employee small business designation by the Small Business Administration has long been a joke.

What I wouldn’t suggest is that this letter is an all-clear after the tornado. The pressure on Congress and the CPSC must remain if they are to take action that is of use to kids’ safety AND to small business.

CPSC’s Vallese interview review re: CPSIA

Tonight I managed to get around to looking at the raw footage of CPSC spokesperson Vallese’s interview with KBAL (Baltimore) regarding the CPSIA.

The reporter did a nice job of trying to pin her down on specific issues. It was a shame that the interview ended without a discussion of component testing or homemade products for kids.

The whole interview was more or less about the impact on thrift stores.

A few quotes stuck out in the seven minute video.

“That law is not defined”

The reporter asked Vallese how thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army are supposed to deal with the CPSIA. Vallese replied that testing is not required by thrift stores and resellers, but that  “there is a lead level limit of 600ppm that has to be met”.

When pressed on how a thrift store is supposed to figure out what to do (in the face of that apparent contradiction), her comment was “that law is not defined”.

I felt it was too bad that the reporter didn’t ask her “How do you enforce a law that is not defined?”, but she did continue down a parallel trail, pressing the CPSC spokesperson for a usable strategy for thrift store businesses.

“a level of confidence”

At that point, Vallese indicated that the business owner needed to arrive at a “level of confidence” regarding the lead content of the products they are selling. The reporter clearly wasn’t satisfied with a partial reply and repeated the question a bit differently.

Vallese replied “they simply need to make a business decision at a level of confidence that the products that they are selling meet the law.”

When asked how they could determine if items met the law, the reporter pressed on, asking what Vallese would suggest to arrive at an acceptable “level of confidence”.

Vallese’s response offered three alternatives:

“they can look at it and make an informed decision”, “they can call the manufacturer”, or “they can test”.

Gee, that’s pretty helpful. I’m no lawyer, but I’m guessing that isn’t something I want in my arsenal when I go to court:

Well, I looked at it and made an informed decision. I tried to reach the manufacturer of this 9 year old item (who was in the Philippines) but they didn’t reply. I didn’t have $38,000 for a XRF scanner and I can’t afford to send every piece in my store to Jennifer, so Vallese’s ‘informed decision’ was the only option I had left. Have mercy on me, your honor!

“screening but not a deciding measure”

That opened up the discussion of testing (again, a shame that the issue of the cost of testing did not come up).

When the reporter asked about testing technology, Vallese indicated that the suggested screening technology is XRF.

When pressed about how the CPSC uses XRF, Vallese indicated: “We use XRF technology as a screening tool but not a deciding
measure.”

Wasn’t that useful? You can use it, but we don’t make decisions based on it.

“mommy bloggers spreading misinformation”

Oh yeah, there was also that “mommy bloggers spreading misinformation” comment.

<Captain Kirk voice>Must. Use. Restraint.</>

As I noted a few days ago: Motrin and many others have learned this lesson the hard way. They could have avoided all that simply by asking the nearest married man.

Husbands like myself already know the “DONT TICK OFF THE MOMS” rule. Not only has the CPSC torqued the so-called mommy bloggers AND the moms and others who own businesses affected by the CPSIA, but they’ve called them out by specifically insulting them.

I think there must be a tad too much lead in the paint in the CPSC offices. Maybe that’s why Vallese resigned.