A popular and growing product category is in the spotlight today, after the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced this week that it is recalling a retail mobile power charger because the item can overheat and pose a fire hazard.
The product in question, which was branded as the Vibe USB Mobile Power Bar, was sold in Five Below stores between January and March of this year and was imported from China by Edison, NJ-based DGL Group Ltd, a company that’s not listed as a supplier or distributor with ASI. The CPSC recalled nearly 100,000 of the items, and said consumers should immediately stop using the power bars, unplug them from electrical outlets, and return them to DGL or Five Below for a refund.
“DGL Group has received six reports of incidents involving melted parts, smoking, leaking batteries and fire resulting in reports of bursting power bars and minor property damage,” the CPSC said in its written statement announcing the recall. “No injuries have been reported.”
Suppliers in the ad specialty market say they’re not necessarily surprised by the mobile power bar recall, stressing that not enough companies – especially in the retail sector – focus on product safety. “There is a tremendous amount of junk in the market due to the consumer’s insatiable appetite for the cheapest product,” Kellie Claudio, vice president of sales for Sweda Company LLC (asi/90305), told Counselor. “It was just a matter of time before there was a recall like this or a supplier having liability issues. Safety is being pushed aside for price.”
Claudio believes it’s imperative for distributors to get educated about the differences in quality of mobile chargers so they can assure clients about the safety of the products. “Get educated on exactly what you’re presenting to clients,” she said. “We guarantee that all of the testing requirements are completed, documentation is handed to our customers, and complete explanation of the important differences between the batteries is explained to our customers.”
Distributors are somewhat split on whether a recall of this magnitude will ultimately impact client buying habits of a product category that’s been growing rapidly over the past year or so – with most believing the items will remain popular. “These chargers have really taken off in our industry,” said Laura Hansen, president of Image Group (asi/230059). “People’s need to stay connected will continue to drive these sales. Distributors just need to use suppliers they trust to ensure the product is of good quality and safe. And, suppliers need to ensure their factories are not cutting any corners in production.”
However, Fred Albrecht, president of Proforma Albrecht & Co. (asi/116308), believes that there could be some impact in the promotional market because of a retail recall like this one. “It can and might scare potential buyers from purchasing similar items,” he said. “Without realizing that it isn’t every power bank that is affected by this recall, a buyer can tend to start to question the validity and safety of similar-looking products.”