Saturday, April 24, 2010

CPSIA - Good News! Little Mattel Gets Much NEEDED Relief.

Wipe away those tears and cancel the bake sale, little Mattel (last quarter's revenue: $880 million) received more relief from the CPSC. Suffering under the burden of only seven certified in-house labs to do its safety testing, Mattel this week received CPSC approval for two more firewalled internal labs to do its testing at a fraction of the cost of using pesky independent labs. The newly-approved labs, one more in China and one in Thailand, promise to make things much easier for Mattel. Imagine the crippling overhead they might incur sending samples from one factory to another if they didn't have these new approved labs. Read all about the celebrations over the CPSC's well-timed beneficence!

Mattel, the generous sponsor of a record $2.3 million CPSC honorarium (that's what we call fines now), lobbied for the provision in the law giving it the right to opt out of independent laboratory safety testing during the drafting of the CPSIA. As Mattel is such a sympathetic supplicant, having recalled more than 20 million toys in 2007 alone, Congress was all ears and gave them what they wanted. [Search this link for "Mattel" and "Fisher-Price" and you will find 19 recalls between November 2006 and today, totalling more than 16.5 million units in the U.S. plus many millions more outside the U.S.]

This is the signal the children's market was waiting for: a forgive-and-forget approach by the CPSC. As a small business operator, I sure am glad to know that the CPSC is big-hearted enough to overlook a long track record of serious legal violations. Shame they hadn't adopted this generous spirit when Daiso pissed them off.

Oh, did I forget to mention that Mattel ALSO funded another $1.1 million CPSC honorarium (fine) for failing to report 116 FIRES caused by one of its products? According to Ann Brown, then Chairman of the CPSC, Mattel knew about these fires for "years" before reporting them. Oopsie! [Check out the WSJ article on Mattel's little problem with safety disclosures. I am sure you will cherish the pictures of the burned-out garage.] Don't worry, the CPSC has decided everything's in order for Mattel to handle safety all by itself. Sleep well, America.

This makes a lot of sense to me.

And for the rest of us who can't afford to set up or manage our own "firewalled" laboratories? We can enjoy the bounty of the small batch manufacturer's relief in the Waxman Amendment, or just hire outside labs. You know, like Mattel doesn't want to do . . . hey, what's going on here?!

At least we know Mr. Waxman cares about somebody.

1 comment:

Melissa Zenz said...


Thank you for continuing to blog about this atrocious law and the dire consequences for small businesses. I greatly appreciate your efforts to educate the public on the saga of the CPSIA. Your common sense and wit are refreshing.

I am finally closing my own business largely because of this law. I've been struggling for almost two years to understand how to comply amidst the uncertainty and changing guidance. The effects have been too great and it's time to call it quits and move on. It's a very sad, and frightening, time for small businesses in America.