- Identify how you will tell consumers about the recall.
- Gather contact details for consumers, those in the supply chain, manufacturers, importers and overseas recipients you have supplied.
- Create your recall advertisements and messages.Consider social media, in-store, online advertising, emails and text messages. Plan when and how often you will advertise and how long you’ll promote them for.
- Communicate early and often with consumers and those in the supply chain.
- Provide information about the recall to your supply chain. Include how to communicate the risk, advertising details, and other steps to improve the recall’s effectiveness.
- Set up multiple ways for consumers and those in the supply chain to contact your business about the recall.
- Set up a dispute resolution process to address consumer complaints about the recall – keep records.
Prepare a communication plan
Prepare a communication plan to tell consumers, suppliers in the supply chain including retailers, and the ACCC about the recall.
Your communication strategy should be suitable to the risk to consumers.
Your plan should include the communication strategies you used to promote your product when selling it, and the channels you used. Engage your internal marketing/advertising team or consider engaging an external agency to assist with developing and planning your recall communications.
Our sample recall plan includes a table to help you plan when and how often to communicate your recall.
You need to regularly review and update your plan, including when you get new information about a safety risk or have a low recall response rate for some consumers.
Create your recall communications
Communicate clearly and simply. Use the words that were agreed to on the recall notice published on the Product Safety Australia website in all your communications.
When telling consumers about your recall:
- describe the product including the name, make, model and any distinguishing features, including batch or serial numbers. Give the dates the product was sold
- give clear images of the product and any unique markings to help consumers identify the product
- explain the immediate action consumers should take, such as “Stop use immediately and return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund”
- describe why the product is being recalled in simple terms so consumers can understand it. Avoid technical language. Tell consumers how to recognise the fault and if it can occur without warning
- state the potential harm by describing the maximum potential hazard and associated risk. For example, “You are at risk of death or serious injury if you continue to use this product”. Even when there is a relatively small risk of a fatality, you must communicate the risk of death in your recall communications
- state if injuries or incidents have occurred. For example, “incidents have occurred and users have suffered burns”.
- personalise by using the consumer’s name in recall communications, where possible
- tell consumers what steps to take to receive a remedy and what the remedy is
- give contact details in case the consumer has questions about the recall
- avoid using words or phrases that downplay the risk to consumers in your communications. Our recall communications package includes words and phrases you should avoid
- use a range of contact methods, such as paid social media, advertising, posters and, where contact details are available, emails, letters, telephone calls, text messages and personal visits
- use designs for your communication that consumers will notice, including the company’s brand and a font that is easy to read.
Some communication methods such as social media posts and SMS messages have limited space for you to provide all this information, so give a link to the recall advertisement on your website.
Create your recall communications using the examples in our recall communications package.
Reach affected consumers
Communicate early – the longer you delay telling consumers about your recall, the less likely they will respond. Use direct communications where possible and a range of communication methods to reach as many people as possible.
Use direct communications where possible
Consumers prefer suppliers contact them directly about a recall. The most effective direct communication channels are:
- text message
- phone call
While direct communication works best, use multiple channels to maximise the number of consumers you reach and the response rate.
Use direct communication methods if you, or the retailers who sold the affected product, have consumer contact details.
Obtain contact information from loyalty programs, online checkouts, email subscriptions and warranty registrations. They give the best response rate and helps you track how many people have viewed your communications and have responded.
Be aware of privacy obligations you and others in the supply chain have. You may need to ask for retailers who sold the affected product to send out communications on your behalf instead of providing you with this information.
Doing the following will improve the effectiveness of a recall and result in more people seeking a repair, replacement or refund:
- include all channels that were used to promote and market the product being recalled
- contact early and often – you may need to send out your recall communication several times. The research tells us that it can take 4-6 times before consumers will act
- still no response? Switch your contact method. You may need to call consumers directly
- use a combination of channels to improve how effective your recall is
- combine direct communication with the other contact methods
- reassure consumers that personal information you collect as part of the recall will not be used for other purposes such as marketing.
Use other contact methods
If you do not know who or where your customers are, advertise more widely based on where your consumers are located so your recall is effective. Tell people about your recall using the same advertising methods you used to sell the product.
Consumers expect to see information about recalls:
- on social media – a combination of paid advertising, pinned posts on your own pages and in groups work best. For example, parenting groups to promote baby and kids’ product recalls
- in-store – located in highly visible, high traffic areas of your stores, in a format so they can easily read it, and in their own language. For example, A4 size advertisement on a notice board that is next to the checkouts, and where the product was displayed in store.
- online – make it easy to find on your website. See use your online spaces to promote your recalls for more information.
If you supplied the recalled product on an online marketplace, contact the platform who may be able to assist you with contacting your consumers directly.
Use different ways to advertise, suitable to the size of your recall and risk to consumers.
Options you can use are:
- alerting industry bodies
- social media channels
- search engine optimisation
- electronic direct mail (EDM) and e-subscriptions
- paid online advertising
- media release
- magazine articles
- newspaper advertisements
- community groups
- markets that sell second-hand goods
- online marketplaces
- online communities and groups
Ask consumers how they found out about your recall when they return the product to you. This will help you understand which ways of communicating are working best.
Use your online spaces to promote your recalls
Promote your recall on your online spaces for the life of the recall so it’s easy for consumers to find.
- Create a product safety recall page. Include all the information that is in the recall notice published on the Product Safety Australia website. It should also display well on mobile devices. Visit business.gov.au for information about setting up a website for your business.
- Add a banner to your home page with a hazard symbol, the words ‘product safety recall’ and a link to your product safety recall page. Place links to recall notices in the top third of your homepage.
- Ask retailers who sold your recalled product to add the recall advertisements to their own online spaces.
Set up a complaint process about your recall
Set up a complaint process for consumers to contact you.
- Use what you learn from your complaint process to understand where issues are occurring and fix them. Complaints may come from consumers or your supply chain.
- Create a space online to address frequently asked questions about the recall. This will reduce the number of similar calls. Include a link to this in your online recall information and recall communications. Share it with your sales staff (and contact centre), and all suppliers of the affected product.
Tell affected retailers, franchisees and distributors
Identify and tell all businesses in your supply chain about the recall.
- Provide recall advertisements to display on their shop counter, website, and social media pages.
- Ask retailers if they have the contact details for their consumers. If so, ask them to contact these consumers directly about the recall. You can give them emails, letters, and text messages to use.
- Let them know what remedy to provide and how to dispose of the recalled product or if they need to return it to their supplier or the manufacturer.
- Tell them that they need to keep track of the number of products that they have remediated.
- Advise how you’ll compensate them for any expenses they incur because of the recall, such as refunds, or costs to dispose of the product.
- If you know that the fault is in a part used by a different supplier or businesses, alert them to the safety issue as they may also need to recall their product. You can also report the issue to us by reporting an unsafe product.
Products supplied using online marketplaces
Many online marketplaces have policies and procedures in place to support suppliers when recalling a product.
Contact all of the online marketplaces you used to find out what help they can give you when recalling a product. This may include identifying and contacting consumers who purchased a recalled product, and support consumers with accessing a remedy.
Many online marketplaces have processes in place to remove listings for products that have been recalled.
Support consumers within our diverse community
Identify if your consumers are:
- Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Tiwi people
- from multicultural communities
- vulnerable, including older Australians and people living with a disability, or
- living in lower socio-economic communities.
About one fifth of Australians speak a language other than English at home (Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017). If your consumers are from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, translate your recall communication into their languages and use the channels and social media platforms your consumers use.
Tailor your communications to reach different sections of the community. If you know the postcodes where your products were most likely sold, visit Search Census data at the Australia Bureau of Statistics to find out more about those consumers. They may speak another language or live in a low socio-economic area.
If you have supplied the recalled products to Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Tiwi people living in remote communities, tailor your recall strategy to reach them and make it easy for them to access the remedy.
Reaching affected Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Tiwi people, and multicultural communities
Telling Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Tiwi people
If you have supplied the recalled product to Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander and/or Tiwi Australians living in remote communities, tailor your recall strategy to make sure they receive your recall message and can access the remedy.
For your recall message:
- Keep it simple and practical as possible. Do not downplay the risks associated with the recalled product
- If you are targeting a specific Indigenous community, consider using traditional language in any oral messaging. Written messaging should be in plain English
- Consider liaising with community health centres, justice groups councils and community radio to promote recall messages
- Consider using illustrations in your recall message to tell consumers about the affected product, hazard and risk
- Create posters to advertise your recall and arrange for them to be displayed in Indigenous community and health centres, and on community noticeboards
- Ask well-known, authoritative, and respected people in the community to spread your recall message. Give them information about the recall, including how to identify if a product is affected and how the consumer can receive the remedy
- Advertise your recall on local community radio stations.
Make it easy for consumers in remote communities to return recalled products and receive a remedy. You may need to arrange for replacement goods to be picked up at a community centre instead of your store, or arrange for a repair agent to visit to repair multiple products at once.
Telling consumers in multicultural communities
Australians have different cultural backgrounds and speak many languages. More than one fifth (21%) of Australians speak a language other than English at home (ABS 2017).
Identify if your consumers are from multicultural communities. If so, translate your recall advertisements into different languages. This includes any extra information you will provide about the recall, like instructions for simple repairs and frequently asked questions.
Display these messages in prominent positions in retail stores located in multicultural communities and other mediums such as community newspapers and social media groups and pages.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has a tool to help identify what languages are spoken in certain areas. Use this when deciding if you need to translate your recall message.
You can access the ABS tool here: http://stat.data.abs.gov.au
The top languages spoken at home other than English are:
Other languages spoken at home other than English:
- Australian Indigenous Languages
- See our recall communications package for guidance and samples to make your recall communication accessible to people who are deaf or have low vision.
- Search Census data at the Australia Bureau of Statistics