A Web Site for Reporting and for Researching Dangerous Products

I am a devotee of Whirlpool appliances. Until recently, I had never owned a Whirlpool, or Whirlpool-made, product that needed to be replaced. Our Kenmore refrigerator was manufactured by Whirlpool. I do not, however, have an opinion on Kitchen Aid or Maytag – also Whirlpool brands – one way or the other.

Last year the Consumer Gal and I bought a Whirlpool gas range and microwave oven/hood. Both products worked well until the mounting blocks that attach the microwave handle to the door began to crumble after a few months. Whirlpool replaced the door.

A few more months and the bottom handle block repeated its demise. Once again Whirlpool replaced the door. When a piece of the bottom block on the third door fell into a frying pan just below it on the range, I had had enough. Wheat if I weren’t watching and the plastic piece, about the size of a nickel, had gotten mixed into the food I was cooking?

I concluded that this was a hazard caused by hit rising from the range and making its way around the pots and/or pans, rising up to heat the plastic blocks, thereby inducing their disintegration. I reported the incidents to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. It found no similar complaints, which dismays me. I know I cannot be alone with this problem. I can only surmise that other folks with this experience just allowed the plastic blocks to go their separate ways and decided to live with the attachment screws, which the blocks hid from view, to show between the handle and the door.

When I applied heat to Whirlpool, it allowed me to exchange the Whirlpool microwave for a similar Maytag model, but one with a steel handle (and a nifty turntable that works with oblong baking dishes).

Recently I discovered a government web site that allows consumers to easily file complaints about unsafe products and to look up products with which consumers may have had dangerous experiences. It’s at www.saferproducts.gov.

Fron CPSC web site
Consumer Product Safetwy Commission recalled items

Here are a couple of caveats: Don’t assume that every reported complaint will be posted on the site. My oven handle complaint is not. On the other hand, don’t assume that one or two posted complaints mean that an entire product line is unsafe. When hundreds of thousands of a particular product come off production lines there is always the possibility of a fluke or two.

My own preference for checking the reliability of major products like cameras, TVs, cars, and the like is Consumer Reports. You can all check retailer web sites for customer reviews.

The buysafeeatwell.org blog gives the example of a particular child’s ball that has a tendency to burst and release a toxic liquid. Now that’s something you’re not going to find in Consumer Reports.

So, if you are a consumer maven like me, you might want to bookmark the government site for your own sake and that of others. Remember, that reporting you own experiences with unsafe products you may be saving others from a lot of grief. And if you are looking for a nifty way to waste some time, the site has a monthly roundup of recalled items.