New Government Database Tracking All Consumer Complaints to Make Us More Social?

In 2008 the federal government approved a project to make a large and extensive database for consumer complaints. Bad publicity gives online retailers more SEO juice, like this one “…the more replies people post, the more negative business and the more hits and sales I get.” This week’s Wikileaks drama shows us that even the politically neutral care about government bribery, just as the U.S government wraps up a two year project for building a large consumer complaints database that will not include complaints against cars, tires, cosmetics, drugs, or FOOD. This past summer over 500 million eggs were recalled for Salmonella yet the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) subscribes to a policy that is perfect for breeding health epidemics “The FDA’s approach is: We assume food is safe unless there is a problem.” With a new food safety bill passing through Senate and regulations not catching up nearly as fast as technology can evolve, people have to ask themselves, will new databases make consumers more social?

THE DATABASE

Approved back in 2008 and recently amended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the large U.S consumers complaints database is to launch March 2011. Complaints will be disclosed regardless of if a recall is initiated though there will be a brief time in the beginning where companies can block complaints. No further details on what makes a “brief time” have been made public.

WHAT WILL IT DO

With one main database, filing complaints will be easier and more visible for consumers than ever before. The goal would be to speed up any issues with consumer products that arise. The problem is only a fraction of consumables would qualify for submission.

WHY WE SHOULD CARE

Catching retailers committing fraud and toys that have safety issues will be easier than ever. Collective power could speed up the resolution of issues regarding products. As consumers we have everything to benefit and while those opposing the database claim there will be room for error if the floodgates open aka “Yelp Syndrome.” Undoubtedly increased transparency will leave consumers knowing more, faster.

NEXT WAVE OF PROTECTION

So will the new government sponsored database force consumers to be more social? If the power of information is behind complaints being submitted, then alternative methods will certainly open up for us to want sharing information to be easier and more personalized. Alternatively with online use shifting over to mobile (even with iPads) it should not be long before consumers start to trust and want to build upon such databases, whether publicly or privately managed.

In the meantime there are already several apps launched by start-ups blazing the path for consumers reporting and rights. What program or source have you found to be helpful? Tweet at me your suggestions to @ecachette and let’s see which apps are currently most helpful.

Sometimes it just takes too long waiting for the government to save the day but we hold hope anyway.

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