Business

Moldy blankets, faulty generators and scary chainsaws - oh my!

DEAR MR. MYERS: You used to keep readers updated on home-related product recalls on a regular basis, but you haven’t done so for several months. Why not?

ANSWER: Because, thankfully, there weren’t many major recalls of items that Americans use in or around their homes throughout most of autumn. But that all changed about the time that winter began: During the past 60 days, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced several recalls of common household products, all of which pose the risk of injury or even death to owners.

Retail giant Bed Bath & Beyond recently issued a recall of 175,000 units of its popular Hudson Comforter by UGG line, because some of the China-made bedroom comforters were found to contain mold. Though no injuries had been reported at the time of the January recall, the company and the CPSC agreed that the mold poses “a risk of respiratory or other infections in individuals with compromised immune systems, damaged lungs or an allergy to mold.”

The comforters were sold between Aug. 24 and Oct. 17 last year at prices ranging from $70 to $110, depending on their size. Affected owners can return their comforter to any Bed Bath & Beyond location for a full refund. Visit the company’s website at bedbathandbeyond.com, or call 800-462-3966 for more details.

A smaller but potentially more dangerous recall involves some of the gas-powered portable generators that American Honda Motor Co., based in California, sold through its Honda Power Equipment dealers and Home Depot stores nationwide from September 2016 through November of last year for about $1,150 each. At least 38 owners of the 34,000 machines have reported gasoline leaks from the carburetor, the CPSC said in its announcement.

Only certain models of the generators are involved. But it’s a particularly important recall for those who purchased one before or after hurricanes Harvey and Irma last year, the wildfires and mudslides in California, or the seemingly unending blizzards in the Midwest and Northeast. Contact American Honda at 888-888-3139 or visit powerequipment.honda.com for more information and to schedule any needed free repairs.

Separately, on Feb. 1, China’s Hongkong Sun Rise Trading Ltd. said it is recalling 50,000 cordless electric chainsaws. Their chain-brake guard can fail, allowing the blade to keep moving and thus posing an injury hazard to users.

The recall involves various models that were marketed under the Greenworks, Kobalt and Snapper brands. They were sold at Lowe’s and other stores nationwide, as well as by Amazon.com, from January 2015 through October 2017. Prices ranged from $170 to $300, the CPSC stated.

Consumers can arrange free repairs by calling Hongkong Sun Rise Trading Ltd. at 888-266-7096 or visiting greensworkstools.com.

More information about these and other recalls can be obtained from the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website, or by calling its consumer hotline at 800-638-2772.

REAL ESTATE TRIVIA: Complaints against debt-collection agencies top the list of grievances filed by consumers with the Federal Trade Commission, the FTC says, followed by scams operated by crooks who masquerade as government officials, utility representatives or other authorities. Cases of identity-theft rank third.

DEAR MR. MYERS: Can borrowers go to jail if they don’t make their mortgage payments?

ANSWER: No, unless the loan was obtained through fraud or under other illegal circumstances.

DEAR MR. MYERS: My fiance and I want to buy a home. I have an excellent credit rating, but my fiance’s score is crummy. I am told that when we marry, my current score will drop and that I will automatically “inherit” 50 percent of his debt on the day of our June wedding. Is this true?

ANSWER: No, it’s not true. Your personal credit score won’t automatically drop on your wedding day, and you won’t be responsible for any of his premarital debt, unless you had agreed to co-sign for his previous loans or credit cards.

Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t run into problems if the two of you later decide to buy a home. When you apply for a mortgage or other joint debt, the lender will consider both of your credit histories when making its decision to approve or reject the application. That means that his checkered credit history could require the two of you to pay a higher interest rate or larger fees, assuming you can get a loan at all.

You might be able to avoid those higher charges if you earn enough money by yourself and can leverage your sterling individual credit history into getting a mortgage in your name only. You could then add your new husband’s name to the title to the property after the deal closes. The drawback: You would be the only one who’s legally responsible for paying back the money, even though your spouse would own half of the home.

This is an important issue to discuss with your betrothed before making a major purchase.

David W. Myers’ column is distributed by Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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