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!

 

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.

 

DCA Complaint Resolution Program Comes to an End

DCALogo_small 2007After processing more than 201,395 complaints and recovering $32.4 million for consumers, DCA’s Complaint Resolution Program (CRP) will close its doors on
June 30, 2016.

Established in 1994 and originally called the Complaint Mediation Division, CRP was created to consolidate and streamline consumer complaint processing. CRP staff review complaints and act as a neutral third party between the complainant and the licensee/
business to settle disputes. The CRP representative can propose terms to settle disputes but does not decide how they should be resolved.

CRP processes all consumer complaints filed against California businesses that are regulated by these bureaus: Cemetery and Funeral; Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation; Security and Investigative Services; and Private Postsecondary Education.

Fewer incoming complaints than in years past and fewer bureaus participating in the program led to the closure.

After June 30, consumers who have complaints related to the bureaus that were previously under the CRP’s jurisdiction can contact the bureaus directly or call DCA’s Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210.

13 Years Later: Drop in Flame Retardants in California Breast Milk

shutterstock_295587713Flame retardant chemicals and breast milk may not seem related, but they are in the Golden State. What’s the connection? A series of bills created to keep Californians healthy.

In 2003, Assembly Bill 302 was signed by Governor Gray Davis. The bill prohibited the  manufacturing, processing, or distribution of a product in California that contained more than one-tenth of one percent of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or pentaBDE (PBDE) beginning January 1, 2008. The legislation was created in response to a 2002 study conducted by California State scientists that found the level of PBDEs in Bay Area women’s breast milk was extremely high.

PBDEs were used as fire retardants primarily in electronic equipment, textiles, and furniture. According to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), PBDE health concerns include the potential to disrupt hormonal functions and neurodevelopment, which may affect children’s learning abilities and behavior.

In addition to the ban, in 2014, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1019, which gave consumers the right to know whether furniture they’re buying contains harmful chemicals. Consumers can check furniture labels for this information; see the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation’s (BEARHFTI’s) website for more information on the bill and label requirements.

The good news? The ban was effective. A follow-up study done earlier this year by DTSC found that there has been a 40 percent drop in PBDE levels in the breast milk of Bay Area women.

However, there is some bad news as well. A 2014 study from the Environmental Working Group and Duke University found that the fire retardant chemicals used in place of the banned PBDEs—some of which are carcinogenic—are building up in the bodies of mothers and their children. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission is considering a petition from scientists and advocates asking to ban these chemicals.

For more information on the recent DTSC PBDE findings, visit www.dtsc.ca.gov/scp/
pbdesdecrease.cfm
. To find out more about BEARHFTI, visit their website at http://www.bearhfti.ca.gov.