Archive for December, 2009

Roman Shades Recalled

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

A recall has been issued that affects approximately 50 million shades. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said the Roman-style shades and roll-up blinds being recalled have been involved in the strangulation death of five children. In addition, 16 children have been nearly strangled. The problem with the Roman-style shades is caused by the space between the inner cord and the shade fabric while the roll-up blinds have cords with large loops that can become caught around the children’s necks.

The blinds have been sold at such retailers as Ace Hardware, Big Lots, JCPenney, Pottery Barn, Ross, The Land of Nod, Wal-Mart, and West Elm. JCPenney is recalling over 2 million shade and blinds sold in the store, through the catalog, and online between 1999 and October 2009, for between $10 and $500. Wal-Mart is recalling over a million of the Roman-style shades and roll-up blinds sold in the store between January 1999 and September 2009 for between $6 and $30. Pottery Barn is recalling over 300,000 Roman-style shades sold in the store and online between January 1998 and October 2009 for between $25 and $180.

The CPSC is working with the Window Covering Safety Council to repair the Roman-style blinds by replacing the cord with rings, which will require the consumer to manually lift the rings to raise the shade. The repair kit will provide a device for the roll-up blinds that will cause the cord to separate into two pieces if a child’s head gets caught in it.

Those needing a repair kit should contact the Window Covering Safety Council on their web page or by calling (800) 506-4636. Wal-Mart consumers with roll-up blinds made of bamboo should return the blinds to Wal-Mart for a full refund.

US CPSC declares Zhu Zhu pets safe

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Previously in this blog we reported that there were concerns about the safety of Zhu Zhu pets.  The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that the toy is not out of compliance with the mandatory US toy standards.  While the CPSC stated they will still do their own independent testing, they are confident that the toy is safe and does not violate the antimony standard for all toys in the US.

The consumer group GoodGuide who initially brought up concerns about the safety of the toy released a statement Monday that clarified its testing methods and apologized for comparing their results to federal  standards.  In the statement they report that after issuing the warning about Zhu Zhu pets they have since learned that the methodology they used for testing Mister Squiggles (the toy in question) was not the same as the methodology used by the federal government.

Zhu Zhu pets claimed unsafe by GoodGuide

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

CNN’s website, CNN.Com , is reporting that a consumer group is claiming that Zhu Zhu pets are dangerous for children.  The makers of Zhu Zhu Pets, Cepia LLC, has denied these claims.

The consumer group GoodGuide has stated that the light brown version of the popular hamster toy named Mister Squiggles has unsafe levels of the chemical antimony.  The web site for GoodGuide (www.goodguide.com) reports that this chemical, along with tin, was found during their testing of this product.  This web site states that the chemical antimony has been linked to such medical problems as cancer, lung and heart disorders.   

The testing done by GoodGuide showed that the chemical antimony was found to be 90 parts per million in Mister Squiggles, while the industry standard for this chemical is 60 parts per million.

Cepia CEO Russ Hornsby defends the safety of the toy and in a written statement assures customers that the company performs rigorous safety testing on all their toys.  He further states that the results of all these tests show that Zhu Zhu pets and all their products are in compliance with government and industry safety standards.

Zhu Zhu pets are one of this season’s hottest toys.  They simulate a real hamster, giving children the opportunity to have a pet without all the mess and stink associated with real hamsters.

LifeLock Lawsuit

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

LifeLock Inc., an identify-theft protection company, has been sued for breaking the law and defrauding customers. LifeLock says it has approximately 1.5 million customers who pay a $10 a month fee to protect their credit against theft. For that fee, the company checks the customer’s credit report with major credit bureaus. The company then provides customers with alerts (email, postal, or phone) when their personal info is being used to apply for credit. The company removes customers from pre-approved credit offers and sends the customers their credit reports every 12 months. It also provide a service to cancel all accounts if the customer’s wallet is stolen.

To prove the service worked, CEO Todd Davis televised a commercial in 2005 in which his personal social security number, which was protected by the service, was shown on screen.

Many critics charges that LifeLock was charging customers for a service that was offered for free by the major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. People who believe they have fallen victim to ID theft can ask that alerts be sent from these credit bureaus for free.

Experian filed a lawsuit against LifeLock in February 2008. The lawsuit stated that the Fair Credit Reporting Act allows only for individuals to set the fraud alerts, not companies such as LifeLock. Experian stated that when LifeLock sets a fraud alert, it costs them money because they must in turn contact the other two agencies and mail notices to consumers. It believes that LifeLock’s fraud alerts clogs the system and prevents it from working as it should.

Last May, the judge in the federal lawsuit, Andrew Guilford, ruled that LifeLock fraud alerts, which are the cornerstone of its services, are illegal. LifeLock is challenging the decision, stating that their services offer a convenient way for customers to manage alerts. Davis likened it to changing your oil – you can take the time to do it yourself or have someone do it for you. Since the ruling, both Experian and Equifax have stopped accepting fraud alerts from LifeLock. However, TransUnion is still accepting them and when the LifeLock alerts are sent to them, it are required to forward the alert to the other two bureaus.

Other lawsuits filed against LifeLock concerns what some see as LifeLock’s misleading loss coverage policy. One of their commercials states “If anything happens for any reason while you’re a client of LifeLock, we will cover all losses and all expenses up to $1 million.” However, the terms and conditions state that this doesn’t cover actual losses by the customers, but the hiring of a third party to clean up their credit after the theft.

Unilever Recalls 10 Million Slim-Fast Drinks

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Unilever, the maker of Slim-Fast, has voluntarily recalled 10 million cans of the popular weight-loss drink due to possible bacterial contamination. It is believed the some cans may be tainted with Bacillus cereus, which causes diarrhea, vomiting, cramping, and nausea. According to officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this recall may affect as many as 10 million cans of Slim-Fast distributed in the U.S.

The recall affects all flavors of Slim-Fast ready-to-drink cans, regardless of best-by date or UPC number. Other Slim-Fast products, including powdered shakes and snack bars, are not involved in the recall.

Unilever notified the FDA of a possible contamination on Dec. 2 and has shut down production until the problem can be identified and corrected. The tainted cans were produced at a facility in Covington, Tenn. and the FDA is investigating that location.

All unused cans of Slim-Fast should be discarded. For a full refund, contact Unilever at (800) 896-9479.