CPSC Staff Considers Issue.
Grassroots Lobbying Effort Begins in Missouri.
Effective today, retailers in the U.S. cannot sell products designed for children under the age of 12 that do not meet the limits for lead content, lead paint and phthalate, a chemical sometimes used to increase the flexibility of plastic parts.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) applies to used, current and non-current ATVs, motorcycles, and snowmobiles and related products such as collectibles, apparel, parts and accessories.
The penalties for violation are stiff: up to $100,000 per violation and up to $15 million for repeated violations.
The law affects some 13,000 franchised and non-franchised dealers, as well as OEMs, aftermarket manufacturers, distributors, and numbers of other businesses involved with children’s off-road machines, such as racetracks and race promoters. It applies to anyone involved in the so-called “stream of commerce” involved in bringing these products to market. And the question of liability surrounding injuries suffered by kids using prohibited equipment is a whole other set of issues.
The value of inventories that now cannot be sold is unknown, but it probably exceeds $100 million, by our estimate. Just take 7,500 franchised dealers, many of whom carry, $25,000 worth of inventory at wholesale cost. That runs well into nine figures, and that might be conservative. One dealer I spoke with estimated his inventory of machines at $150,000, and that’s not counting his PG&A.
Include inventories from another 6,000 non-franchised dealers, plus a number of big box retailers, and the number certainly is worth talking about.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSA) is empowered to enforce the CPSIA, which was signed by President Bush last August. However, the CPSC is understaffed and under funded. But don’t get your hopes up if you’re a retailer and are considering selling stuff illegally. The law can be enforced by local authorities.
When I asked a CPSC representative today what, if anything, the commission is doing about the problem and why the agency couldn’t find a way through the cluttered law to allow machines to be sold to kids, I received a terse, one-sentence reply: “The issue is still under review by the agency staff,” he said.
Paul Vitrano, general counsel for the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), said today, “The best I can tell is that the CPSC is overwhelmed with implementation of this law,” when I asked him for a status report on the MIC’s pending petition for a stay of the sales prohibition until final relief is granted.
“They are very cautious about taking any action under this law that isn’t well founded and well researched. We believe that, upon review, CPSC will grant our petitions.”
“This is huge for us,” Vitrano added, “but it’s only a small part of the problem for them. But we have to continue urging the CPSC and Congress to grant us relief.”
The MIC is planning a big push at the Dealer Expo this week, he said. “We plan a full court press at Indianapolis.” There will be letters and other materials available at the MIC booth to make it easy for dealers and exhibitors to make their feelings known in Washington.
Meanwhile, Missouri Republican Representative Tom Self has launched his own grassroots effort with a new website, www.tomself.com. The site contains email templates that make it easy for visitors to send emails to Washington.
“It’s a practical problem,” says Self. “There’s so much going on in Washington, it’s difficult to get anyone’s attention. That’s what we’re trying to do here. We have to send thousands and thousands of emails to the people who have oversight authority for the CPSC. The CPSC could literally grant the MIC’s waiver this minute, if they chose.” JD
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Tags: ATV, bikes, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, CPSC, CPSIA, Dealer Expo, dealership, Delmont, kid's, lead content, lead paint, linkedin, MIC, Motorcycle, phthalate, snowmobiles, Tom Self, Vitrano, www.tomself.com