Each year, the Toy Industry Association asks the industry to come together in Washington, learn about what the government has planned for us and lobby Congress for relief from whatever that is. This week a small number of industry leaders answered that call. I made the trip as did Cardinal, Funrise, Sportcraft, Thinkfun, Patch, Itoys, Wild Planet, Creativity for Kids, American Plastic Toys, Tomy, Big Time Toys Mattel, Leapfrog, Hasbro and Lego.
I strongly suggest that the next time there is a Fly In that you make the trip as well. There is just too much at stake not to attend. For one thing, it was really a little scary.
Nancy Nord, Commissioner for the Consumer Products Safety Commission, gave us a stern warning that 2012 is going to be the year in which the CPSC will begin enforcing new CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) regulations. They will go into effect on January 1, 2012 as Federal Law. The CPSC will be checking toys at the ports of entry. Failure to comply with third party testing regulations; leaving off traffic information and other discrepancies can lead to holding of the shipment and fines of $100,000 per violation. This is serious stuff.
Nord is a smart woman and she is highly sensitive to the stress that the new law puts on the toy industry. She does not, however, make the law, Congress does. Her job is to enforce it. So, in order to avoid having to make any more difficult for toy companies she wants them to be sure to take all the necessary steps to be in compliance.
The problem, and it’s a big one, is that the law is extremely difficult to understand and by the CPSC’s own admission, their website is not particularly helpful. They told us that they are working on improving it but I doubt that that is going to happen any time soon. Why, because they are badly understaffed?
So where are industry members who need information or are unsure that they are getting the right testing to go for help?
Well, you can contact the CPSC’s Small Business Ombudsman, Neal Cohen. Neal addressed us and I found him to be extremely articulate, smart and sympathetic. He will take your calls (301 504 7504) and answer your emails (email@example.com). He is, however, just one man and has responsibility for a whole lot more than the toy industry.
I think the better place to go is to contact the Toy Industry Association. They are truly the only organization that has the assets in place to fully understand and interpret the law. When you do so, email Lorca Hjortsberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nord and Cohen encouraged us to give them feedback on the current regulations. The best way to do that is through the TIA. So, I suggest that you contact the TIA to find out how you can help. And by the way, if you are not a member of the TIA, it is more than ever a good investment to join. You can do so by clicking here.