After being criticized for running one of the most unsuccessful product recall campaigns, Sears, Roebuck & Co. has agreed to try again to recall and repair 72,000 electric fans that may cause fires.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission yesterday voted unanimously to accept Sears' plan to run a series of advertisements urging customers to return the fans.
If at least 5 percent of the fans aren't returned, Sears will run additional ads to get them back, the giant retailer told the CPSC.
Sears got back less than 1 percent of the potentially hazardous fans when it first recalled them a year ago.
That recall rate was denounced by CPSC commissioner Sam Zagoria who said big retailers like Sears should be expected to recall products "with something like the efficiency they achieve when they want to sell products."
Zagoria complained that all Sears did to recall the fans was to issue two press releases.
Sears is the fourth major company to agree in recent months to run paid advertising for product recalls, Zagoria noted. Corning Glass Works advertised in a thousand newspapers to recall hazardous coffee pots: Mattel took ads to recall a Battlestar Galactica toy and Bassett Industries bought national magazine ads about hazardous baby cribs.
The fans that are being recalled were made in 1973 and 1974 in a 13-inch model that sold for about $30 and a 19-inch model that sold for about $50. The Sears fans are green; identical models in blue carrying the Vernco label were sold by some other stores.
All the recalled fans have a five-digit date code ending with the number "3" or "4" stamped on the bottom and carry either Sears numbers 768.80530 or 758.80550 or Vernco model number V-1001 or V-1003.