We have received several inquires recently from Home Inspectors asking how to use Items I Own to help consumers check their belongings for recalls. We are thrilled that more Home Inspectors are beginning to add recall checking services to their inspections and/or are taking the time to educate their clients about the free tools available to them on the WeMakeItSafer website.
In this post we will walk through a simple step-by-step process, which is not unlike that used by baby planners, nannies or even relatives who want to help others use Items I Own. We have also included a helpful Q & A section below.
UPDATE 02/18/2013: We have added two questions below based on user feedback. Please keep the questions coming. We are happy to help.
Steps for Helping Consumers Check for Recalls Using Items I Own
- Sign Up: The Consumer/Client (the “User”) signs up for Items I Own. This only takes a moment and can be done ahead of time, or on the spot via a mobile device.
- Enter Items: The Home Inspector logs into the User’s account and enters product information. This can be done using the simple mobile interface during the inspection or later via computer. (Don’t forget to get the login information from the User. S/he can change the password after you’re done.)
Note: Only the brand (e.g., Sanyo, Carrier, etc.) and product type (e.g., microwave, furnace, etc.) are required for the system to run. Additional information such as model names and numbers help to optimize results but are not required. This saves time because the User will only need to look up model numbers when the system identifies a relevant recall AND the model number is a determining factor; often times it is not.
If the inspector will be doing the recall verification (step 3), we suggest entering, photographing or jotting down the model numbers and serial numbers just in case they are needed. The single-item entry form in every User’s account has spaces to enter model names and numbers.
- Verify Recall Status: Items I Own checks for recalls once per night and immediately sends an email to the User if potentially relevant recalls are identified. If the Home Inspector will be offering to review the recall check results, s/he can ask the User to ignore this system email.
- View Report: All of the User’s items are neatly organized on the “My Items” summary page of their account. The inspector is welcome to print this page or reformat this information to include in his/her inspection report.
Additional helpful information for service providers is provided below. You can also take the Items I Own Tour for more details.
Can I create an Items I Own account for my client?
Each User needs to sign up for him/herself. This enables Users to view the terms, make their subscription selections, set a password and verify their email address. For convenience, sign up can be completed via mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet computer.
Can I include results of the recall check in my inspection report?
Users are allowed to have an authorized person act on their behalf. Authorized persons such as a Home Inspector can complete tasks that the User would typically complete themselves. This includes entering product information, reviewing and verifying results of the recall check, and/or printing or summarizing the results presented. This means that it is fine for a Home Inspector or other service provider to include recall check results in their reports. No other access to the account or the information contained therein is allowed.
What products do you cover? Do I have to enter all of them?
WeMakeItSafer covers recalls issued by the CPSC as well as child car seat recalls issued by the NHTSA going back to 1999. This means that we cover just about every durable good, including appliances, baby gear, clothing, electronics, furniture, sporting goods, recreational vehicles, tools, yard equipment and more. Essentially, anything that might be in your home for more than a few months (other than your street-legal vehicle or boat) is covered.
A home inspector or other service provider can offer to add any number of items to the User’s account. Many will choose to just add the major appliances or large children’s items such as cribs and strollers. The User can always come back to add more items or edit details on the items you entered at any time.
If I use Items I Own, am I obligated to WeMakeItSafer in any way?
Users (and therefore any person acting on their behalf) are not under any obligation to use or not to use WeMakeItSafer tools and services and can cancel their account at any time instantly on the setting page of their account, or they can email us and we’ll cancel the account for them.
Can I charge a fee for my services? Do I have to pay WeMakeItSafer if I do?
WeMakeItSafer does not have any policies that prohibit service providers from charging fees to conduct recall checks as described. We understand that service providers’ time is valuable and many consumers are happy to pay someone else to do the work associated with checking for recalls for them. We are happy that there are service providers willing to do this! However, it is highly unacceptable (not to mention immoral) to lead a consumer to believe that the only way they can get this important recall information is to pay for it.
WeMakeItSafer does not charge any fees for the use of Items I Own.
Do you sell Users’ personal information?
We do not sell, rent, share or give away any users’ personal information.
How can Items I Own be free? How do you make money?
WeMakeItSafer is a social venture; our primary mission is to prevent injuries and save lives. It was never our intent to make money from the Items I Own application. We believe that consumers have a right to free safety information about the items they own, and that they should not have to give up privacy to obtain it.
We have a variety of paid products and services that we offer to businesses, such as Simply Check, used to check and monitor inventory for recalls, and Product Recall Data/Reports, often used by journalists and researchers. On our website, we also have “banner” ads like those commonly seen around the web.
If there is a new recall, when will a User be notified?
Simply Check Users see recall check results instantly. For Items I Own users, the system runs once every night and will email the user immediately if there is a new recall or an edit to an old recall that may be relevant.
Can users control their recall alert emails?
Users can control the sensitivity of recall alerts on the settings page in their account. Some choose to receive an email only when there is a very high likelihood that a new or revised recall applies to their products; others like to receive an email at the slightest chance that there could be a recall. Users may also turn off email alerts.
What other emails will WeMakeItSafer send to Users?
In addition to recall alerts, users will receive a weekly account summary and, if selected on sign up, a monthly newsletter. Subscribing and unsubscribing to these emails is easy via the user’s settings page or by clicking the safe-links provided in each email.
Do you include third-party ads in your emails?
At this time, we do not include ads in our emails. In addition to general content, we sometimes highlight new account features or products we found that have great safety ratings, etc. We have conducted very limited experiments with ads in the past, and may do so again in the future; however every email will always be predominantly content – information that we believe will improve the safety, health and well-being of our users.
We hope that all of our users will love our emails and find them to be helpful and informative, but those who don’t can unsubscribe instantly via the safe-link on any email or by changing the settings in their account. We are very proud of the fact that fewer than 0.5% (half of one percent) unsubscribe.
Again, we do NOT give away, sell or rent email addresses, so a User will never receive emails from a third party because they signed up with WeMakeItSafer… period!
Are all of your applications (aka “Tools”) the same?
Recalled Product Search, Items I Own and Simply Check are different applications, each designed with various users and tasks in mind.
Recalled Product Search is an open keyword search tool that anyone can use without registering. It can be thought of as “Google for Product Recalls” without all the extraneous results that you might get when actually using Google.
Items I Own is a free consumer product safety registry that checks belongings for past recalls, then monitors for new recalls going forward. The system is more robust than the keyword search tool and includes features such as email alerts and safety points.
Simply Check is designed for businesses such as retailers and property owners. It is similar to Items I Own but has additional features that make it easier to:
- enter hundreds of items at once,
- classify and sort items,
- prove to others that an item has been checked, and
- transfer items to a new owner.
NEW 02/18: Does WeMakeItSafer provide any other tools that I can use to help educate consumers?
WeMakeItSafer provides a number of free tools that anyone can easily place on their websites, blogs or facebook pages. These tools include Recall Finders (search tools), Latest Recall widgets, Product Registration apps, general content and more. You can find them in our Publisher Tools section.
NEW 02/18: Does WeMakeItSafer offer any marketing to Service Providers?
Anyone who uses WeMakeItSafer tools to offer recall checks or who helps educate consumers about recalls by adding one of our Publisher Tools to their website, blog or facebook page is welcome to add their company information to our Resource Center for free. This helps our visitors – thousands per day! – find you. In addition, we post logos and descriptions of Resource Center companies on our Pinterest boards. We also frequently tweet about the companies in our Resource Center to help draw attention to the good work they are doing. (Find us on twitter @WeMakeItSafer) Lastly, we often write about and highlight companies in the Resource Center, or the Resource Center as a whole, in newsletters, blog posts and weekly user emails.
Banner ads that appear on our website are not related to our applications or the use thereof, and are generally automated through services such as google adsense, but anyone interested in placing an ad on the site is welcome to contact us at info@WeMakItSafer.com .
Can I give WeMakeItSafer suggestions for new features or feedback on updates I’d like?
We absolutely LOVE feedback and often implement changes based on our users’ comments. Please click the Feedback button at the top left of nearly every page on our website, or visit this feedback page. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
How do your systems work? Do you just search the CPSC database?
WeMakeItSafer technology was built from the ground up by experienced computer science and business professionals. Before launching a single application, the WeMakeItSafer founding team spent several years in Research & Development at UC Berkeley, one of the top engineering schools in the world. The system that emerged enables massive numbers of products to be checked for recalls at once, something that has never before been possible. Now, more than 5 million products have been checked for recalls using WeMakeItSafer applications.
WeMakeItSafer was recently asked by The White House to deliver a talk about its technology. White House staff learned about WeMakeItSafer from the CPSC. Below is a video of our CEO, Jennifer Toney, talking about WeMakeItSafer’s technology at The White House. You can see more WeMakeItSafer press coverage here.