Wouldn’t it be nice to know if the stove you’re considering has been reported to spontaneously combust? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that several people have had the pogo stick fall apart mid-jump?
Next spring, you’ll be able to glean more information about problems fellow consumers have had with all sorts of products, thanks to a decision by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to publish incident reports in a public database. You won’t need a user ID or password, and if you make a complaint, there’s no need to worry: No personal information will be shared with the public.
In a way, this is great news for consumers. Until now, the CPSC couldn’t release information about potentially dangerous products without permission from the manufacturer. People could ask to view complaints the agency had received, but that involved filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act, which is not something people typically do when researching their next mattress purchase. This new database will make information much more accessible and transparent.
I do see some potential downsides, though.