Buying secondhand goods is always a great way to save money. Most people have loads of perfectly usable products just sitting in their closets and garages, which makes selling them online beneficial for both buyers and merchants. Click or tap to learn the best way to sell on eBay.
But not everyone keeps up with the news, and product recalls happen all the time. This has led to thousands of faulty and dangerous products appearing on secondhand markets — and nobody seems to be trying to regulate it.
Before buying any used items online, make sure they’re not something that can harm you or your loved ones. Here’s what you need to know about product recalls, the secondhand marketplace and what to look out for when buying from online sellers.
Overstocked with no oversight
According to an in-depth investigation by Consumer Reports, a startling amount of safety-recalled products are available for sale on open marketplaces like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. These products include numerous items of furniture, toys, utensils and most worrying of all, baby products.
Product recalls aren’t rare. If you aren’t paying close attention to recalls, you might never know what items can be dangerous to own.
As a perfect example, Consumer Reports found at least a dozen recalled IKEA dressers for sale on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. These items were recalled due to weight issues that caused the dressers to fall forward. If a child were in front of the dresser during an earthquake, the dresser could fall on top of them, causing physical injury or possibly death.
This is especially dangerous for baby items like sleepers, which made up a large swathe of the products uncovered by the investigation. One particular Fisher Price sleeper had been recalled due to suffocation issues that resulted in the deaths of at least 73 children. Yet, on Facebook Marketplace, this same sleeper was listed with stellar reviews from parents.
Currently, neither Facebook nor Craigslist have any kind of recall moderation on their respective platforms. There isn’t even a way for users to flag listings for items they know are dangerous or recalled. It’s gotten to the point where users have taken it upon themselves to inform merchants when their products are too dangerous to sell.
How can I avoid buying recalled products from online stores?
If platforms like Facebook and Craigslist aren’t going to do anything about consumer safety, it’s up to users to police themselves and keep a sharp eye out for dangerous items.
Consumer Reports recommends any user unsure about the safety of an item for sale should message the seller and request the brand, model, serial number and date the product was manufactured. Afterward, check out the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website and enter the product info into the search bar to see if the product was recalled.
Remember, buying any used products for infants can be extremely risky. Even if it saves you a couple bucks, you’re putting the life of a child at risk when you’re not 100% sure about the safety of a product. Buying new (and carefully reading product reviews) is always worth the extra peace of mind.
Consumer Reports also recommends users play a part in helping police recalled products. If you are shopping online and find something you know for a fact is recalled, send a polite message to the seller and link them to any relevant information you find.
Most recalled item listings aren’t put up out of malice. More often than not, it’s ignorance about safety recalls and consumer oversight that prompts a person to list an item for sale. Sending messages to sellers about items that have been recalled can potentially save a life, so if you see any, don’t keep quiet.