Too few consumers are registering their products when they purchase them.
Why not? After all, registering a product makes it possible for the manufacturer to get in touch if the item you have bought turns out to be faulty or unsafe. Typically, if an electrical product is recalled only 10-20% of these products are returned and/or repaired. This is because the manufacturer often has no way of contacting the purchasers of the items.
The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has commissioned work with the aim of increasing the registration of products purchased by consumers. They have identified a number of reasons why consumers are reluctant to register their products and are now testing these initial findings in a wider survey. On 2 April 2019 OPSS hosted a product registration “co-creative” workshop at which qualitative initial findings were presented to an invited group of stakeholders and interested parties. This was followed by a facilitated activity to develop and optimise activities aimed at increasing rates of consumer registration. I attended as the NCF Chair with long experience of dealing with product safety issues.
No Surprises from Initial Findings
From a consumer perspective, there were no surprises from the initial findings but the research is a helpful contribution to understanding the reasons behind poor registration levels. OPSS plan to use the research to “nudge” consumers into registering more of their products and therefore the afternoon workshop used behavioural science techniques to identify effective interventions that encourage more people to register. Whilst I believe the initiative is worth doing, especially in the white goods sector, I also believe it is unlikely that the work will result in much more than a 5% increase in registration levels.
This work will now be taken ahead with a pilot project implementing some of the ideas that came from the workshop and prior research carried out since the New Year. While we wish the pilot project success, several of those at the workshop believe that a more long-term technical solution, probably registration at point of sale/delivery will be needed if product recalls are to result in returns of 80% or above. And these are the required levels if we are truly to ensure consumer protection.