With all of the chatter concerning CPSIA out there, even Rush Limbaugh is planning on talking about it today, there are still plenty of companies that are still completely clueless about the ramifications or even the existence of the law.
My Mom went to Kohl's yesterday and asked the manager about certification for a baby outfit she was buying. The manager had no idea what she was talking about and said she would talk to headquarters. Kohls isn't some local retailer. They are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
One of our Catholic suppliers just sent out a note saying that they didn't have to get certified for anything until next year, completely unaware that phthalates and jewelry didn't get an exemption.
One of our other jewelry suppliers just recently announced that they are going to certify their products after initially dismissing the law. They were pressured into it by their sales reps who have been getting drowned in questions by the stores they visit.
My daughter was at Goodwill last week and noticed that the children's section was mostly bare because the store had pulled stock for fear of the new law.
On the retail front we have found an amazing lack of concern. We sent out an email to almost 1000 Catholic retailers to warn them about the new law and got responses from two asking for more information. We also wrote to the Christian Retailing, the Christian Booksellers Association, the Association of Catholic Booksellers, the Catholic Marketing Network, Mardels Christian stores and Family Christian stores. We only received a reply from the Catholic Marketing Network.
For more detailed coverage we recommend Overlawyered and Business is Personal. We also recommend following #CPSIA on Twitter and especially Kathleen of Fashion Incubator who has been at the forefront of the effort to inform retailers and manufacturers about the ramifications of the law. She just got a nasty letter from a member of Congress basically telling her that she wants children to die horrible deaths from poisoning and strangulation because she doesn't like the law in its current form.
For those who are still not quite sure of how the law will impact them, here are a few important points:
- A stay of certification has been issued for manufacturers except in regards to:
- Motorized vehicles for kids
- Plastics that contain phthalates
- Children's books printed before 1985
- Fabrics that aren't completely natural (this includes things that have printing on them)
- Lead in paint
- Certain toy standards
- Cribs and baby walkers
- Small parts in products for kids under 3
- Certain metals, gems and fabrics are exempt from testing. Please see the CPSC chart for details.
- Even though manufacturers can delay certification on some things until next February, RETAILERS AND THRIFT STORES ARE NOT EXEMPT FROM GETTING FINED. Yes, if you sell something that fails the new standards you could still be facing up to a $250,000 fine even though the manufacturers don't have to certify until next year.
- If you sell used books for children, you are no longer allowed to sell any book printed before 1985 because it is possible that the ink contained lead. Now would probably be a good time to go through the dumpsters at your local Goodwill and library.
- The Homeschool Legal Defense Fund sent out a memo to their members saying that the CPSC had given them a verbal statement that they won't be fining anyone until next year. Sounds great, right? Nope. Here's why:
- A verbal agreement with a specific group unassociated with you is unlikely to stand up in court.
- State attorney generals don't have to follow the CPSC exceptions. They are free to enforce the law as written. The AGs of CT, AZ and CA have already stated that they are going to enforce the law as written.
- The CPSC itself has said that the various statements it has issued are not law and are subject to interpretation by AGs, courts and Congress.
- In the current economic climate, the lure of $100,000 and up fines to boost up government coffers is pretty tempting so agressive enforcement may be more enticing.
- The CPSC has announced the creation of a task force to monitor online sites like Ebay and Craig's List for possible violators. If they aren't going to enforce until next year, why are they setting this up now? It seems like a waste of money and manpower to me.