NHTSA has fined Graco $10 million for failing to report customer complaints to the government in the run-up to the Jan. 2014 recall of several million car seats.
The car seats had defective buckles that were extremely difficult-to-impossible to release.
Graco said it was NDB, just kids gettin' goo on the buckle is all. The federal safety agency disagreed, and declared the buckles to be a safety hazard, which the company had known about since 2009 but did jack about. Once the government found out, they demanded a huge recall, which Graco resisted, then caved on.
Having been on the car seat recall beat for over a decade now, I have to say, I'm amazed that the fine and settlement includes a statement from Graco acknowledging that "it did not provide the required notice to N.H.T.S.A." and that the company "fell short of N.H.T.S.A.'s expectations for data collection and reporting procedures." That kind of thing never used to happen.
What hasn't changed, though, is companies getting of fairly easy, even when it government penalties sound harsh. $7 million of Graco's penalty is actually a promise to launch a car seat safety awareness campaign. Which sounds like a boondoggle for a company in the car seat business.