Don’t Miss the Latest Issue of Consumer Connection!

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalled 51.3 million autos in the United States. The recalls included everything from defective ignition switches and consumer-connection-winter-2016steering wheels to acceleration issues and airbag and seatbelt defects. If you receive a recall notice, don’t ignore it. The winter 2016 issue of Consumer Connection walks you through what to do if you receive one.

This edition of DCA’s magazine continues its regular feature highlighting Department leadership. This issue includes an interview with the Executive Officer of the Board of Registered Nursing (Board), Joseph Morris. Mr. Morris discusses his background, long-term goals for the Board, and the Board’s challenges ahead.

The issue also explores a variety of other interesting topics, including recognizing a flood-damaged car when shopping for a used vehicle, fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the recently launched California State Athletic Commission’s campaign to prevent and treat concussions.

Visit the DCA website to download or read the magazine. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have it mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!

 

Millions of Washing Machines Recalled

Samsung has recalled 2.8 million washing machines after receiving hundreds of reports of excessive vibration or the top of the washing machine detaching completely from the frame, including nine reports of impact injuries Untitled-1such as a broken jaw, injured shoulder, and other fall-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The recall affects 34 models of top-loaded washers sold nationwide since March 2011. Front-loaded Samsung washing machines are not part of the recall.

The CPSC recommends consumers contact Samsung immediately to receive one of three remedy options: (1) a free in-home repair that includes reinforcement of the washer’s top and a free one-year extension of the manufacturer’s warranty; (2) a rebate to be applied toward the purchase of a new Samsung or other brand washing machine, along with free installation of the new unit and removal of the old one; (3) a full refund for consumers who purchased their washing machine within the past 30 days of the recall announcement (November 4).

More information on the recall and a list of affected model numbers from the CPSC are here.

Samsung can be contacted at www.samsung.com and toll-free at (866) 264-5636.

The Department of Consumer Affairs reminds California consumers in need of appliance repair to check with the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (www.bearhfti.ca.gov) to confirm that a repair person is licensed and in good standing.

 

How One Bad Apple Can Ruin Your Day

 

Beware the gray bar: It's the beginning of Touch Disease.

On July 27, 2016, Apple celebrated the sale of its one-billionth iPhone—but if you’ve experienced the “gray bar of death” or had your iPhone not respond no matter how hard you poke or swipe at the screen, you may not feel like celebrating.

Welcome to Touchgate.

Flickering bars and unresponsive screens are symptoms of Touch Disease, which has accounted for 11 percent of all Apple Store repairs according to AppleInsider. Touch Disease is found primarily in iPhone 6 Plus models, but iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s are not immune.

The defect was first spotted in August 2016 by online gadget repair specialist iFixIt; it starts with a flickering gray bar at the top of the screen and eventually results in the screen becoming unresponsive and, therefore, useless.

Touch Disease is related to the now-infamous “Bendgate,” which occurred almost as soon as the new iPhone 6 appeared on the market in 2014. Cases on the new phones were found to be extremely fragile, and anyone who carried their iPhone in a back pocket ended up with a curved phone and a screen problem. Although Apple changed the “bendy” cases to a sturdier type in later production, Touch Disease remains.

Early iPhone 6 models bent easily; although Apple changed the production to a sturdier type, Touch Disease remains.

#Bendgate: Early iPhone 6 models bent easily; although Apple changed the production to a sturdier type of case, Touch Disease remains.

Cause Found
Underneath the iPhone screen is a logic board. Sitting down with the phone in your pocket, sliding the phone on its case, or dropping the phone can cause cracks in the solder that connects chips to the logic board. Once these chips become loose or dislodged, the screen no longer works and—you guessed it—Touch Disease occurs.

Consumers Fight Back
According to Reuters, a class-action lawsuit was filed in San Jose, CA, and in Delaware and Pennsylvania against Apple in late August, charging the tech giant of violating California’s consumer laws. To date, Apple has not acknowledged the issue with the devices nor responded to the lawsuit.

Is There a Cure?
Any way you choose to address the problem will cost you money. The only cure is replacement, which is cheaper under warranty, more expensive out of warranty, however a replacement may end up with the same problem. You can take your phone to a repair shop, but make sure it is licensed by the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation; check the license online at www.bearhfti.ca.gov.

The Story Behind Those Pesky Pillow and Mattress Tags

Law tagIf you’re still going to bed at night with that scratchy tag stuck on your pillow, here’s some good news: You can take it off without getting in trouble.

Although consumers don’t break any laws if they remove the tag, manufacturers and retailers do. If they remove the tag, or don’t attach one to their product, they’re breaking the law.

“It is important for manufacturers to comply with labeling requirements,” says Justin Paddock, Chief of the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BEARHFTI). “These labels ensure consumers know if the products they are purchasing are new or used, contain added chemicals, may pose a risk to family members with allergies, and that products meet basic flammability requirements. In short, these labels protect the health and welfare of households.”

The labels are there to tell you about what you can’t see—namely, what’s inside that sofa, chair, pillow, mattress, or other item that has filling that is not visible. The two labels consumers may be most familiar with are law and flammability labels. California law requires manufacturers to attach these labels to every piece of new upholstered furniture they sell. All new bedding products such as pillows, comforters, etc. must also have a law label. All new mattresses must have a white law label, which includes the finished size, weight of the filling materials, and the Federal flammability label. Used mattresses and box springs must be sanitized by Bureau-approved methods before they are resold and bear a yellow sanitization label.

Mattress labeling requirements in California began in 1911, in response to the fires following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. At that time, there were no set standards for letting consumers know what materials were used in the making of mattresses, allowing unscrupulous manufacturers to use unsafe materials. It was discovered that those shoddy mattresses contributed significantly to the fires following the earthquake. In response, the Bureau of Home Furnishings was created to regulate the mattress industry in the state. The Bureau’s jurisdiction was later expanded to include the regulation of home furnishing products.

The law and flammability labels must be white with black print and attached to the items so they are easily visible. Labels must also be printed on material that is not easily torn (that’s why they’re so scratchy).

If you want to see examples of what the labels look like, what they are required to have on them, and explanations regarding the law and it requirements, take a look at BEARHFTI’s latest brochure, California Upholstered Furniture and Bedding Laws, online at http://www.bearhfti.ca.gov/forms_pubs/labeling_brochure_v6.pdf.

What does this all mean? It means you can get a good night’s rest knowing that what you’re sleeping on is safe. Plus, the next time you buy an upholstered or filled item or piece of furniture in California, you can tear off the tags with confidence. Once you buy it, it’s up to you.

 

Thinking About Purchasing a Rebuilt Mattress?  

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If you are considering buying a rebuilt mattress, you’ll want to be sure you’re not spending money on a germ and bed-bug infested paradise.

Purchasing a rebuilt mattress can be less expensive than buying a new one, but you want to be sure of what you are getting. Rebuilt mattresses are required to be clean and sanitized and California law prohibits the use of fabrics containing visible soiling or stains in a new or used mattress.

A rebuilt mattress is made by adding filling materials to a used mattress and it is sanitized using an approved method.

Conducting research before you shop for a mattress is the most important way to protect yourself. All mattress retailers must be licensed by the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation.

You can check the license status by visiting License/Registry Search for Home Furnishings Licensees.

When shopping for a rebuilt mattress:

  • Check to be sure the store is licensed with the Bureau.
  • Inspect the piece to make sure that both a red and yellow label are attached.
  • A red label tells you the mattress is a used product.
  • The yellow label tells you the mattress has been sanitized by either dry heat or a chemical disinfectant.
  • A brand new mattress will only have a white label attached.
  • Ask the salesperson if the rebuilt mattress meets the federal flammability standard. If the salesperson cannot give you a definitive answer, you should consider other options.

The store you purchase a rebuilt mattress from should have their Bureau license displayed in a visible location in the store, usually near the front counter, along with other state and local permits.

If you do not spot a posted license, ask the salesperson if the business is licensed by the Bureau and ask to see a copy. If the salesperson is unable to show you a copy of a valid license, make sure to contact the Bureau and consider other options.

If you have any questions about the cleanliness and safety of a rebuilt mattress you’ve already purchased, please call (916) 999-2041 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or email homeproducts@dca.ca.gov.