After the conclusion of a debate that followed party lines, last Wednesday the Consumer Product Safety Commission approved a new web-based database for complaints regarding consumer products, particularly children's toys and household products. The CPSC intends to launch this new database, called www.SaferProducts.gov, this coming March.
I readily admit, I am fascinated by this development, but think that product manufacturers and retailers may have a legitimate concern here: if it too easy for people to post anonymously their grievances with respect to certain products - and it remains to be seen what protective measures are or will be in place to make sure that these complaints go through some type of verification process before being published - these manufacturers and retailers may end up with one disgruntled customer being able to affect their core business regardless of whether this customer's claims are valid.
On the other hand, I think the argument may be much ado about nothing. The fact of the matter is that we're in the midst of the Amazon and e-Bay generation, both of which post gobs of customer feedback on the seller of every product they offer. Consequently, while I think that the doomsday prognostications here are largely overblown, I also think that since the website carries a governmental imprimatur, some safeguards and quality control of complaints of defective products should certainly be in place before any comment is published.