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Product Liability: A Real Life Story from Buckyballs

Inc. Magazine had a great story the other day on the founder of Buckyballs. Buckyballs were essentially like Lego except made from magnetic balls.  In 2009 the founder, Craig Zucker, started by importing just $2000 worth of Buckyballs from China, eventually growing it into a $18mil/year business.

The problem was the magnetic balls could be deadly if swallowed, something children were prone to do. There were dozens of very serious injuries from kids digesting the balls. Even with the appropriate product labelling, the Consumer Product Safety Commission insisted Zucker stop selling the balls. Eventually things got heated between the two parties with the end result being Buckyballs shut up shop and the Consumer Product Safety Commission suing Zucker for millions.

You can read the full story here: http://www.inc.com/magazine/201403/burt-helm/consumer-product-safety-sues-buckyballs.html

The take away from this all is, as I always stress to first time importers, to be very sensitive of whether the products you want to import could potentially cause serious injury. Of course a dish sponge could potentially cause injury, but some products are more susceptible than others. Two of the ones I often warn about is anything that plugs into an electrical socket or anything that is used or could be used by children.  If you are considering importing any such products, you must make sure to know your product inside out as well as any applicable laws potentially regulating your products.

 

 

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Liam
    May 12, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Again some very good points. Ideally I like to stick to products that are one solid piece of material with very little moving parts or electrical components.

    You should do a “case study” on what you think is a perfect product :)

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