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TradeMe praised By Commerce Commission

TradeMe community works with Commerce Commission to ensure cot safety

The Commerce Commission is praising the actions of the TradeMe community after an investigation into children's cots being offered for sale via an online auction.


In late April the Commission received complaints about children's cots imported from China being offered for sale on TradeMe that did not appear to comply with compulsory product safety standards. It was clear from the photo of the cot that it had high corner posts. These types of posts are a prohibited strangulation hazard under the standard, unless designed so they cannot snag on clothing.

Commission investigators arranged to purchase one of the cots on the TradeMe auction for testing, prior to approaching the trader to remove further cot sales.

However during the course of the auction the trader was inundated with questions from TradeMe users, advising the trader that the product appeared to breach New Zealand product safety standards. Statements included advising the trader of the existence of product safety standards, outlining the likely areas of non-compliance and referring the trader to the Minister of Consumer Affairs website fact sheet on cot safety. The Commission investigator also received a number of questions via a personal TradeMe site advising of the danger of the cot just purchased.

"The Commission is pleased that there is such a high level of awareness of the appropriate product safety standards amongst TradeMe users," said the Commerce Commission's Director of Fair Trading, Adrian Sparrow.

"As well as carrying out our own surveillance, the Commission relies on receiving information from consumers and businesses to identify potential breaches of the law," Mr Sparrow said. "In this case a trader was prevented from supplying potentially dangerous cots due to the vigilance of the TradeMe community."

"It is heartening to see that New Zealand's largest online auction community not only understands that the standard applies to both new and second hand cots, but the importance of compliance with the standard for the safety of New Zealand children," said Mr Sparrow.

The Commission investigator won the auction, but the trader decided not to supply the product, and to withdraw all other products of this kind, due to the questions forwarded to him.

The Commerce Commission has issued a warning to the trader for offering to supply a product that does not comply with the relevant product safety standard. All 100 items imported into New Zealand from China remain in storage and will be shipped back to the Chinese supplier.

"The TradeMe community should be congratulated on what is an excellent result. Because of informed pressure from them, the trader behaved responsibly by withdrawing the cots from sale, without the need for stronger action, such as litigation from the Commission," said Mr Sparrow.

Background TradeMe works to ensure that sellers are aware that cots must comply with the relevant standard by having information about products subject to safety standards on their restricted items list. Anyone listing a cot for sale on TradeMe must confirm, via a Compliance Declaration, that they have read the guide to the Product Safety Standard for cots and that their product complies with those standards. If, as in this case, where the cots were still listed even though they did not comply, TradeMe members can use the Community Watch link at the bottom of each listing to report any possible non-compliant products.

The Fair Trading Act. It is an offence under the Fair Trading Act 1986 to supply, or offer to supply, or advertise to supply any goods that do not comply with the requirements set out in the Product Safety Standard. The Courts may impose fines of up to $60,000 for any one individual or up to $200,000 for a company.

Currently there are six Product Safety Standards under the Fair Trading Act. They relate to: • Baby walkers • Children's toys – for the under three age group • Children's nightwear • Cigarette lighters • Household cots • Pedal bicycles.

The relevant standard for household cots is AS/NZS2172:2003 Cots for household use - Safety requirements. The standard applies to individuals as well as businesses.

All new and second-hand cots must meet these safety requirements: • The cot must be more than 500mm deep. Measure from the top of the mattress to the top of the cot side. • The mattress must fit the cot firmly. Any gaps at the ends and sides should be less than 20mm. • There are measurements that must be met so that openings do not entrap fingers, limbs or heads. • The corner posts or any other protrusion must not stick up more than 5mm unless so designed that they cannot snag onto clothing. • The dropside catches must lock securely. • Screws and nails must not stick out. • There must not be any bars, ledges or other footholds that an infant can use to climb out of the cot. • The base of the cot must be firm, with no parts to collapse or bend when pushed down.

The full standard can be purchased from Standards New Zealand via their website http://www.standards.co.nz

A fact sheet relating to household cots can be downloaded from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs website at www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz/productsafety/consumerinfo/cots4.pdf

The purpose of the regulations is to reduce the risk of injuries to young children. The regulations apply to any person who supplies household cots, including second hand cots. It is the responsibility of the supplier to ensure that they have the necessary information to be certain that they are complying with the standards.

ENDS

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