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How to Handle a Product Recall

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 21, 2013 6:43 AM

If you're in the retail business and a product that you sell has suddenly been recalled, you need to act fast and think on your feet.

Failure to act promptly and wisely could subject you to liability. And you don't want to be one of the parties named in an injured customer's product liability lawsuit.

So how should you react to news that a product you sell has been flagged for recall? Here are five steps you'll want to take:

  • Remove the item. Go through your inventory and remove the item right away. Or if it's not that easy to move the item (for example, an auto recall), then stop selling it immediately. If it's accessible to customers, try to remove it from their line of sight. And if you can't remove it, then place a visible notice on the item saying that it's been recalled.

  • Tell employees about the recall. Immediately email all your employees to inform them that the item has been recalled. If you can, try to have an in-person meeting with your employees so they can understand how important the recall is and also know what to tell customers who ask about it, Business Insider advises.

  • Reach out to customers who purchased the product. If you have a list of customers who have purchased the product, make the effort to contact them immediately. A phone call can add a personal touch, but it should be followed up with documentation. It's always wise to have a paper trail showing that you took the right steps.

  • Post notices in highly visible places. Place notices of the recall in a place where customers will be able to see them. This helps get to the word out, in case you accidentally left some of the recalled inventory lying around. It also sends word out to past customers who may have purchased the product. If you've ever been to a store that sells baby gear, you'll frequently see these types of notices.

  • Cooperate with those who purchased the product. If any former customer comes to you and says they've purchased a recalled product, do whatever you can to accommodate them and listen to their concerns. It's not just good customer service, it may also help to avoid a lawsuit.

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