Q. If something I sell at my garage sale turns out to have been recalled, am I liable in any way?
A. Hosting a yard sale is a great way to declutter and earn extra cash, but reselling an item that has been recalled—whether or not you’re aware that it has been—is illegal and exposes you to a risk of being sued, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission spokeswoman Patty Davis. In the event that someone is injured by a recalled product you sold and pursues a civil or even a criminal action against you, you could be held responsible and have to pay damages or face other penalties.
To be safe (and make sure your buyers stay safe, too), do your due diligence before hosting a sale. Steer clear of selling high-risk items, such as cribs, bike helmets, and child car seats. But also be sure to check the status of other products, such as blenders or dehumidifiers, by going to the recall database at cpsc.gov and typing in, for example, “desk chair” to find out which models have been recalled. (If you’re the buyer at a garage sale, you should also do this before making a purchase.)
When in doubt, don’t sell it. “Be vigilant, both as a consumer and as a potential seller or reseller of appliances and all consumer goods,” says James Dickerson, Ph.D., Consumer Reports’ chief scientific officer.
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Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the May 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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