Which products have the most safety recalls in Australia?

Angus Kidman 2 August 2016


Do you have one of the 182 cars that required a recall last year?

In the 2015-16 financial year, 670 products were officially recalled in Australia for safety reasons. That was a rise on the previous year, when 596 products were recalled by Product Safety Australia. Given the thousands of new products that go on sale every year, 670 recalls is not a massively high number. However, that's not much comfort if your shiny new vehicle has to go back for an unexpected repair.

You can see the full breakdown by category below. (Some products span more than one category.) Cars topped the charts in the last two years, followed by food and groceries; electrical and gas; hobbies, sports and recreation; and products for kids.

The highest total number doesn't necessarily represent the highest risk. The car industry is highly regulated, so any defect deemed to be even a minor risk can result in a wide-scale recall. However, typically this will involve a repair to the vehicle, not an outright replacement. Conversely, food is likely to sell in much higher quantities, and a recall will typically be accompanied by a refund.

That's assuming we can be bothered. Research by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) suggests that 70% of us will bother seeking a refund if something costs $25. If it's less than that, we'll throw it out - assuming we ever hear about the recall in the first place.

Often the best publicised recalls are for electronics. This year, we've seen Apple recalling power adaptors and HP replacing batteries in many of its laptops.

Unsure if something you've purchased has been recalled? You can search the Recalls database to check. Even innocuous items can have safety risks. I wouldn't have guessed that a heart-shaped calculator could be dangerous, but it turns out there's a risk of it cracking open when dropped, meaning the cell battery might be swallowed by a child. Take care and check, people.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

Picture: Product Safety Australia

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