What can a company do when one of its products goes disastrously wrong? MixBin, a small phone accessory distributor based on East State Street in Hamilton, found itself grappling with that exact question when reports started appearing that some of the cell phone cases it sold were literally burning customers.
A cell phone case may not be an inherently dangerous piece of technology, but MixBin is now recalling about a quarter-million iPhone cases because they were injuring customers. MixBin Electronics, which sells selfie sticks, smartphone cases, and other phone accessories, is recalling 263,000 glitter and liquid-filled iPhone cases after reports that the product gave customers chemical burns when liquid leaked out of the cases.
“There have been 24 reports worldwide of skin irritation or chemical burns, including 19 in the U.S. One consumer reported permanent scarring from a chemical burn and another consumer reported chemical burns and swelling to her leg, face, neck, chest, upper body, and hands,” said a press release by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.
The cases were sold through Amazon, Henri Bendel, Nordstrom Rack, Tory Burch, and Victoria’s Secret stores from October, 2015, through June of this year. Anyone who bought one of the liquid glitter cases for iPhone 6, 6s, and 7, can contact MixBin for a full refund.
The recall was not forced by the CPSC, however. MixBin participated in a voluntary recall of the iPhone cases, which were made in China. Voluntary recall is an option for companies when the CPSC finds that one of its products is hazardous. Because issuing a recall helps protect companies from liability, almost all recalls announced are voluntary like the one MixBin issued. Recalling a product quickly can be expensive but can limit the damage to a company’s finances and reputation in the wake of a defective product.
After a company enters the CSPC’s fast-track recall program, the agency helps publicize the recall. By August 10 the CSPC had issued 11 other recalls that month in addition to MixBin. These were all picked up by news outlets as part of an effort to reach customers. They included a Kawasaki ATV that was a fire hazard and children’s pajamas that posed a choking hazard. A company called Firewood Vapes recalled 400 vape devices because they could short out and catch fire.
Other prominent examples of voluntary recalls in recent years include Toyota, which recalled potentially defective Takata airbags in 34 million vehicles. Blue Bell Ice Cream recalled a batch of ice cream after some of it was contaminated with Listeria bacteria.
The voluntary recall also includes a phone number for customers to call. Consumer advocates would appreciate the number posted on MixBin’s website, but be disappointed to note that the number went straight to voicemail, and a voicemail and e-mail from U.S. 1 asking for comment were not returned.
MixBin, which is headquartered in the Studio Park buildings, was founded in 2012. Its previous publicity was good news: A report on on July 20 when it donated more than 25 bikes to kids at Hamilton’s Bromley Center, which is across the street from MixBin.
"We decided to donate half the bikes for this event for all the kids to enjoy themselves for the summer, and we hope to continue doing donations to the Bromley Center for the rest of the year and for many years to come,” founder and CEO Cory Zeitzer told NJ.com at the event, in which children were surprised by a gift of 50 brand new bikes.
MixBin, 1800 East State Street, Hamilton 08609. 855-649-8466, www.getmixbin.com