Retired Safety Inspector Picks Up Slack For CPSC In Brooklyn

Martin Bennett is a 69-year-old former inspector for the Consumer Product Safety Commission who retired over six years ago. Now he spends his free time monitoring auction sites for recalled products, sending alerts to stores that carry merchandise he considers dangerous, and passing along tips to the CPSC. It’s the sort of stuff any consumer can do—except, of course, he actually knows what he’s doing: “The agency currently has only 90 inspectors for the whole country, and it says it wants to add more. Since retiring, Mr. Bennett has passed along scores of tips to the CPSC, which says it welcomes the input.”

In retirement, Mr. Bennett has also scored some victories, including a recent recall of overheating candles and the relabeling of a rust remover. “We really appreciate what he’s doing,” says John Drengenberg, consumer affairs manager for Underwriters Laboratories, the respected product-safety testing and certification organization. “In a sense he’s a kind of hero.”

“Marty’s a type of guy who finds more enjoyment going into a store and finding violative labels on consumer products than he would playing a round of golf on a sunny course somewhere in Florida,” says Steven Garitta, another former CPSC compliance officer, who prefers a restful retirement.

We just wonder why he retired in the first place:

Asked how he felt about being chased from the building, Mr. Bennett says, “It’s part of the job.” Then he corrected himself. “I mean my old job.”

(Thanks to Evan!)

“Safety Inspector Just Can’t Stop Poking Around” [WSJ] (Currently accessible w/o registration through Google News)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Erwos says:

    I don’t see why they don’t just rehire or contract him as an inspector-at-large or something. Seems like he’s doing good work, he should be rewarded for it.

  2. RBecho says:

    My guess is this guy liked his job, and could have retired so he did. Now he does it for fun.

    What’s so odd about that? If you hate your job change it, if you like it why should you stop if you don’t want to?

  3. HeyThereKiller says:

    Why would they pay him when he does the same job for free?

  4. orielbean says:

    The contractor angle makes sense to me. I worked with helping people retire from their companies after decades of service. Many of them would return part-time, on their own schedule and be a consultant/contractor as they enjoyed working without excessive pressure. Hope someone picks up Marty quick. He’d be great for Consumer Reports.

  5. stuckonsmart says:

    Martin Bennett for President.
    He cares about the common man.
    He goes out of his way to protect others.
    He knows what he’s talking about.
    He has a track record.
    He sounds like he may even be articulate.

    All glowing credentials currently lacking by the current holder of the position.

  6. stevegoz says:

    If Martin Bennett is so great, why isn’t he rich?

    Is it because he’s harming the corporations we owe our very existence to by helping those consumers too lazy to help themselves?

    [/Feigned libertarian Consumerist poster buffoonery]

  7. orielbean says:

    He may not be MLK, but he is good at doing something, and he enjoys being good at it. We should all be so lucky.

  8. stubblyhead says:

    He looks like a cab driver.

  9. bobert says:

    About rehiring him, he’s probably enjoying the freedom to investigate anybody he wants whenever he wants. If he worked for CPSC again, he’d have a boss who told him what to do.

  10. Dr. Eirik says:

    Like was said above, anyone can do this. I walked into a Safeway store north of Seattle when Complete contact lens solution was recalled. The news hit on Friday, and I walked in for something unrelated the next morning and found the store completely stocked with it. I mentioned the recall to a clerk, who apparently did the right thing because the shelf was empty the next day.

    I work in the eye care industry and I’m sometimes privy to recalls that don’t hit big media markets. I’ve taken to occationally checking aisles when I’m aware of them to make sure the shelves have been cleared. So far, other than the Complete thing (which may have been a matter of me just coming in before the store was aware) I’ve seen good responses.

    If you’re aware of a recall, it’s a simple matter to contact the store manager and try and get the stuff removed. It doesn’t always work, of course.

  11. thirdbase says:

    Stop being a busy body and go play golf or something

  12. kimsama says:

    @RBecho: Indeed. People like this contribute a lot of value to our society. Their fun = something someone else would have to be paid to do. That’s pretty cool, especially when the people who are getting paid aren’t really doing much.

    @Dr. Eirik: Bravo. It’s awesome to hear that you use your specialized knowledge and access to information about recalls to do this. Knowing there are people out there watching out for complete strangers gives me a little more faith in the human race.