Trade-in programs for toys, home appliances - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Trade-in programs for toys, home appliances


MADISON (WKOW) -- There are two relatively new trade-in programs for used toys and used home appliances you might be interested in.

The first is a private program run by Toys 'R' Us.  The second is a government program from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Madison retailers are especially enthusiastic about the federal appliance trade-in program that could drum up business for a slow summer.

Dennis Egbert, co-owner of Brothers Main in Madison, says he welcomes using stimulus money to bring customers into the store.

Click here to visit Dan Cassuto's blog to compare how much extra money it costs each month to power old appliances.

Here's more information from the consumer service,


Toys 'R' Us, Inc. has unveiled a national program that gives customers the opportunity to trade-in used cribs, car seats and other baby products in exchange for savings on a new item.

The "Great Trade-In" event is designed to call attention to the fact that, due to safety concerns, certain used baby products, such as car seats and cribs, are not the best candidates to be handed down or resold.

Safety experts have recently reported that sales of used products are on the rise and are warning consumers to be cautious about purchasing second-hand children's items. The trade-in event puts an emphasis on specific old or second-hand baby products that may be potentially unsafe, but are still in circulation.

The consumer advocacy organization Kids In Danger (KID), says that, in general, less than 30% of affected items are returned when a baby product is recalled. Beyond recalls, certain older and used baby products can raise other concerns. This could include products that have been damaged or others where advances in product safety have rendered older models non-compliant with the latest standards.

"In today's economy, we are all looking for ways to stretch our dollars, but in doing so, children's safety should not be compromised," said Jerry Storch, Chairman and CEO, Toys 'R' Us, Inc. "We hope this program will help raise awareness of the importance of being vigilant about potentially unsafe children's items that may still be in the marketplace, while encouraging customers to use the 'Great Trade-In' event as an opportunity to remove used baby products, such as cribs and car seats, from their garages and attics."

During the "Great Trade-In" event, which begins Friday, August 28 and continues through Sunday, September 20, all Babies"R"Us and Toys 'R' Us locations nationwide will accept returns of any used cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers, travel systems, play yards and high chairs in exchange for a 20 percent savings on the purchase of any new baby item, in any of these product categories, from select manufacturers.

The New York State Consumer Protection Board is commending Toys "R" Us, Inc., and its participating suppliers, for launching its "Great Trade-In Program" to help remove unsafe items from homes, community centers, the marketplace and other locations.

"The incentive program sets a good example of how retailers can make a difference in our efforts to help keep children safe by raising awareness and offering consumers the occasion to drop off their no-longer-safe-for-use items at their Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores nationwide," said Mindy A. Bockstein, executive director of CPB.

Safety agencies, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), have noted that it continues to be challenging to get dangerous products out of the home following a product recall. The CPSC advises parents to check its website to make sure a product has not been recalled before using or purchasing it second-hand. In addition, parents should be aware that used baby products can raise other safety concerns. For example:

  • Federal and voluntary standards and regulations for safety testing, particularly for cribs, have changed significantly over the past few years, and older products may not have been produced to meet these stringent requirements;
  • Car seats can sustain damage in an accident that may not be visible to the naked eye, but could prevent the seat from functioning properly;
  • Car seats have expiration dates, as the materials can deteriorate over time, potentially making the car seat less effective in a crash. Parents can check with the car seat manufacturer to determine the recommended period of use for a particular car seat;
  • Certain baby products, particularly car seats, are regularly introduced with new innovations in technology that can improve the products' safety efficacy;
  • Products made of or that contain certain materials, like wood and plastic, for example, can deteriorate when exposed to extreme weather conditions, like heat, potentially compromising safety integrity; and
  • Parts or instruction books for proper assembly, installation or use may be missing.

It can be difficult for consumers to determine whether used baby products are safe, and with so many ways to purchase used products, it's important for parents to be informed and vigilant when making purchasing decisions. And, because consumers often do not know the history of a second-hand baby product, leading safety organizations such as Safe Kids USA recommend not purchasing used car seats, for example. Additionally, the CPSC advocates not purchasing used items that have a history of safety problems, including cribs, play yards and bassinets.

Manufacturers participating in the "Great Trade-In" event include Baby Cache, Babi Italia, Baby Trend, Bertini, Britax, Chicco, Contours by Kolcraft, Cosco, Delta, Eddie Bauer, Evenflo, Graco, Jeep, Nature's Purest by Summer Infant, Safety 1st and Sorelle.

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If you missed "Cash for Clunkers," you might want to give "Dollars for Dishwashers" a whirl.

Although it's not getting nearly the attention the auto rebate program did, the Department of Energy's program is making nearly $300 million in funding available from the economic for state-run rebate programs for consumer purchases of new ENERGY STAR® qualified home appliances.

The allocation of money is based on a state's population. That gives California the lion's share - more than $35 million. The territories of American Samoa and Northern Marianas have been allocated the minimum amount of $100,000 each.

"Appliances consume a huge amount of our electricity, so there's enormous potential to both save energy and save families money every month," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu when the program was launched back in July. "These rebates will help families make the transition to more efficient appliances, making purchases that will directly stimulate the economy and create jobs."

Under the program, each state or territory will submit a plan that specifies which ENERGY STAR® appliance categories will be included in their rebate program, the rebate level for each product type, how the rebates will be processed, and their plan for recycling old appliances.

Eligible appliances

States have the flexibility to select which residential ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances to include in their programs and the individual rebate amount for each appliance. DOE recommends that states and territories focus their program efforts on heating and cooling equipment, appliances, and water heaters as these products offer the greatest energy savings potential.

ENERGY STAR® qualified appliance categories eligible for rebates include: central air conditioners, heat pumps (air source and geothermal), boilers, furnaces (oil and gas), room air conditioners, clothes washers, dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators, and water heaters.

Appliance industry hopeful

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), which calls replacing older appliances with ENERGY STAR® appliances "the most practical and effective step a homeowner can take to save energy and money on utility bills," says rebate programs will be announced by the states starting in mid-October or early November.

AHAM spokeswoman Jill Notini tells that her organization is "hopeful that this will spur consumer sales and get people into the retail environment to purchase appliances." Notini says that while this program, at $300 million is just a fraction of the $3 billion spent on Cash For Clunkers, AHAM hopes "it will entice people to stores to look for appliances."

The manufacturers say sales have been off for the past three years because of the economy. Last year saw a slump of ten percent and Notini says sales through the first seven months of 2009 are down 15 percent.

Christine Kielich, a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy, told that while it's expected the rebate program to have a stimulative effect on the economy, "increases in sales will depend on how states structure their individual rebate programs, which appliances are included, and how much the rebates are worth."

The amount of energy saved, she added, "will depend on the specific appliance and model being replaced, but new ENERGY STAR® appliances save significantly more energy than those manufactured years ago. For example, replacing a clothes washer made before 2000 with a new ENERGY STAR® model can save up to $135 per year."

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