Recalls and Refunds During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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We’re all in uncharted territory now. During the coronavirus pandemic, what should you do if a product you own is recalled? The answer depends on a number of factors.

Vehicle Recalls

Vehicle recalls are not issued frivolously. But some of them are more urgent than others. Consumer Reports is urging people whose cars have been recalled to either avoid driving or to use an alternate vehicle.

Vehicle recalls don’t ever expire, so if you cannot get it fixed now, you’ll still have the option for a free repair in the future. Although repair shops are considered “essential” during the pandemic, you should still consider whether the repair is absolutely necessary to perform.

For example, healthcare workers and delivery drivers are in more urgent need of prompt vehicle repairs than someone who is able to work from home. If you can wait, you should.

Food Recalls

Simply disposing of recalled food products is the best choice for everyone right now. Is it really worth risking your health just to get a $3 refund for a recalled box of frozen pizza pockets?

Many stores, including major grocery chains, aren’t accepting returns now anyway for the safety of their employees. If you have questions about the recall, you can contact the company’s customer service line.

It’s possible that some manufacturers might be willing to issue vouchers for future purchases, but don’t expect that to be the norm during the pandemic.

Medicine Recalls

Yesterday, we reported that the FDA had issued a warning for people to stop taking the antacid medication Zantac. As part of that warning, the agency advised consumers to throw the medicine out instead of attempting to return it.

The FDA maintains a list of medications that can be safely flushed down the toilet and those that cannot. With drug take-back sites potentially on hold because of the coronavirus, the FDA offers specific guidelines for how to get rid of expired or recalled medicine:

  • Mix medicines with dirt, coffee grounds, or other unpleasant substances
  • Put the mixture in a sealed plastic bag before throwing away in the household trash
  • Remove all personal information from pill bottles before throwing away or recycling.

Other Product Recalls

Store closings mean you can’t return recalled items for a refund. Even stores that have remained open may not be accepting returns. In addition, the costumer service centers for some manufacturers may not be open at this time or have limited manpower.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has advised that there may not be a good option for returning recalled items for a repair or refund. “Due to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding COVID-19, some of the remedies identified in recall press releases may not be available at this time. Consumers should check with recalling firms for further details,” the agency stated.