- December 19, 2007 at 2:28 am #254854
5 things to avoid at a dollar store
By the Editors of Consumer Reports
An aluminum baking pan. Lip gloss. Sewing scissors. Every item $1 or
Picking through the merchandise at dollar stores can seem like a treasure hunt.
But investigations by Consumer Reports’ researchers have turned up some dicey
deals. And let the buyer beware: Dollar shops and closeout stores have become
destinations for shoddy products, as manufacturers have sometimes cut corners on
safety, trying to meet demand for rock-bottom prices.
Here are five items you should think twice about purchasing if you’re shopping
in one of these discount stores.
Some multivitamins bought at dollar stores didn’t have one or more nutrients
listed on the label. Some did not dissolve properly, so pills didn’t break down
fast enough to be absorbed.
Get this instead: A better buy are name brands such as Centrum or Bayer
One-A-Day. In CR’s tests, those brands dissolved properly and all had the
claimed nutrients. Or simply look for a label that says the product is verified
by U.S. Pharmacopeia or NSF International.
Be wary of off-price items such as Christmas lights, extension cords and fans —
they could have fake labels vouching for their safety. That means the product
could, for example, have undersized wiring that can overheat and cause a fire.
Get this instead: Seek products certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and
other independent labs, such as Intertek ETL Semko and the Canadian Standards
Association (CSA), which ensure conformity to safety standards.
Look for the UL hologram to ensure the certification is real . (The label must
generally be tagged or embossed right on the product.) You can also check the
UL’s Web site, at http://www.ul.com, to see if a product’s brand name is certified
(click on “consumers,” then “certification”).
Toys for kids under 3
By law, toys with small parts or sharp edges must be labeled as inappropriate
for children under 3. But some imported toys, particularly those made in China,
might be mislabeled or unlabeled.
Get this instead: To be safe, stick to toys with larger parts. How large? If any
piece of the toy is small enough to pass through the tube of a toilet-paper
roll, it could be unsafe for toddlers. That’s good advice, no matter where you
Soundalike brand names
When investigators visited one dollar store, they bought Dinacell batteries
packaged to look like Duracells. They later leaked acid. Counterfeit goods
sometimes have brand names that imitate well-known brands, says Travis Brown
Jr., general counsel for BuySafe, a company that guarantees online transactions.
For example, a fake Louis Vuitton bag might be labeled “Louis Vitton.”
Get this instead: The real stuff. You need to look closely at the packaging to
make sure you’re not getting a fake.
Soft vinyl lunch boxes
Several brands of soft, insulated lunch boxes — even those found at regular
department stores — have sometimes tested positive for lead, which can transfer
to unwrapped food and your children’s hands.
The lead levels in these products alone are unlikely to be high enough to cause
lead poisoning, but exposure is cumulative, so lead should be avoided whenever
possible. Although several states have issued recalls for these lead-bearing
products, CR has found them in dollar stores.
Get this instead: Look for soft lunch boxes lined with nylon, not polyvinyl
chloride, also known as PVC or vinyl.
Wherever you shop, be cautious of extraordinary bargains. Products that are far
less expensive than comparable items sold elsewhere could be cheap because
they’re counterfeit or otherwise defective. And avoid no-name products. A
manufacturer’s name and address is no guarantee of safety, but it does mean that
you or the authorities can track down a legitimate corporation to remedy
Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org.
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