Office Depot has agreed to pay a $3.4 million penalty to settle a claim made by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, charging the company knowingly failed to report defects in two models of office chairs. The chair seat backs detached from their bases.
According to the settlement agreement, Office Depot stated both models passed multiple safety tests.
Office Depot Inc., located in Boca Raton, FL received numerous complaints about its Gibson and Quantam model office chairs.
The chairs were priced at about $350 for the Quantam, and about $40 for the Gibson. The seatbacks of the chairs would loosen and detach causing injury to the users, including back injuries.
The company received initial complaints about the Quantam chair in 2008. In response to the customer complaints, Office Depot produced a second model of the chair and added additional instructions. Despite their efforts, the company received 33 additional reports of the seatback detaching and 13 reports of injury.
The Gibson chair raised concerns in 2005. This chair’s defect resulted from a broken mounting plate, which caused the seat to detach from the base of the chair. The company received 153 incident reports from consumers complaining of this issue.
At no point did the company reach out to the CPSA to report the defects. The Commission was not notified about the Gibson chair defects until December of 2012, after the Commission’s staff sent a letter requested a full report about the Gibson chair.
In addition to the monetary settlement, Office Depot has agreed to implement and monitor their internal controls and procedures to ensure the safety of its products. As a check point, the company will be responsible for submitting written documents as proof the improvements are effective.
The settlement agreement has been provisionally accepted by the CPSC.