It’s against the law to sell any product that has been officially recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, but back in 2014 Best Buy and its closeout stores were found selling electronics and furniture after they had been recalled. The retailer then allegedly continued selling additional recalled items well into 2015. Now, to close the book on these allegations, Best Buy has agreed to pay a $3.8 million penalty.
The CPSC announced Monday that Best Buy agreed to pay $3.8 million in penalties to settle charges that it illegally sold 16 recalled products including cameras, computers, and washing machines. Some of these defective products were recalled over concerns about fire hazards and skin irritations.
According to the settlement [PDF], Best Buy knowingly sold and distributed the products from Sept. 2010 to Oct. 2015. In that time, the retailer sold 600 recalled items, including more than 400 Canon cameras, to consumers.
CPSC staff found that Best Buy failed to implement adequate procedures to accurately identify, quarantine, and prevent the sales of the recalled products across all of its supply channels.
For example, in July 2011, an employee with Best Buy contacted a manager related to an inventory of recalled Toshiba Notebooks, seeking guidance on how to handle the products.
Despite this contact, no immediate action was taken by Best Buy, the CPSC claims, and the following month the retailer sold five of the recalled laptops, and 15 additional units the next month. Best Buy sold an additional 44 recalled Toshiba Notebooks over the next three years, the last sale occurring in Oct. 2014, the settlement states.
Similarly, in Sept. 2013, Best Buy sold a recently recalled Gree dehumidifier that contained a defect that caused the device to overheat and catch fire. The dehumidifier subsequently caught fire.
According to the CPSC, sales of the recalled products were made possible because Best Buy’s record keeping did not enable it to identify whether the sold unit was part of a recall.
In some cases, the CPSC claims, Best Buy failed to permanently block product codes due to inaccurate information that signaled that the recalled product was not in inventory. At other times, the blocked codes were reactivated prematurely, and in a few cases, overridden, according to the settlement.
In July 2014, the CPSC and Best Buy jointly re-announced the recalls of 10 products that Best Buy had been selling after the original recalls had been announced.
The safety agency notes that Best Buy cooperated with the investigation and assisted in identifying sold recall products.
Recalled products that continued to be sold by Best Buy include:
• Toshiba Satellite Notebook Computers, recalled on September 2, 2010;
• iSi North America Twist ‘n Sparkle Beverage Carbonation Systems, recalled on July 5, 2012;
• LG Electronics Gas Dryers, recalled on August 21, 2012;
• GE Dishwashers, recalled on August 9, 2012;
• Canon EOS Rebel T4i Digital Cameras, recalled on August 14, 2012;
• GE Profile Front Load Washers, recalled on October 3, 2012;
• Sauder Woodworking Gruga Office Chairs, recalled on November 7, 2012;
• LG Electronics Electric Ranges, recalled on November 8, 2012;
• LG Electronics Top-Loading Washing Machines, recalled on December 18, 2012;
• Samsonite Dual-Wattage Travel Converters, recalled on February 12, 2013;
• Definitive Technology SuperCube 2000 Subwoofers, recalled on March 28, 2013;
• Gree Dehumidifiers, recalled on September 12, 2013;
• Frigidaire Professional Blenders, recalled on September 19, 2013;
• Schneider Electric APC Surge Arrest Surge Protectors, recalled on October 3, 2013;
• Coby 32-inch Flat Screen Televisions, recalled on December 12, 2013; and
• Whirlpool Jenn-Air Wall Ovens, recalled on July 29, 2015.
While Best Buys also agreed to maintain a compliance program that is designed to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), the settlement does not constitute an admission of committing the offenses charged by the agency.
A spokesperson for the retailer tells the Wall Street Journal, “we regret that any products within the scope of a recall were not removed entirely from our shelves and online channels. While the number of items accidentally sold was small, even one was too many. We have taken steps, in cooperation with the CPSC, to help prevent these issues from recurring.”
Best Buy is not the only major retailer caught selling items that had already been recalled by the CPSC. Chains including Home Depot and Meijer have been hit with stiff penalties over similar allegations.