FAIRFAX, Calif. (KGO) -- 7 On Your Side takes a look at those product warranty cards that come with certain products consumers buy and if you really need to fill them out and mail them in.
It turns out you should send that information in and it could save your life. That's because most people hear about the large auto recalls, but there are many other recalls for appliances and household goods that consumers don't always hear about.
It was like any other day when Fairfax resident Stephanie Clark and her kids were cleaning up after dinner. They loaded the dishwasher, turned it on and then the dishwasher started to smoke.
"That was scary," Clark said. She called the fire department right away and said, "In the next five minutes the smoke started to become a flame. If I had gone upstairs to go to sleep or gone outside, it would have been a bad fire."
She was able to put the flames out with a small fire extinguisher before the fire department arrived. After the fire, Clark checked Bosch's website for recalls. It turns out her dishwasher was recalled for a fire risk. She says the company did not warn her about the recall.
"So often when news about a recall goes out it's kind of like a smoke signal. It depends upon where a consumer is, whether they happen to read it or see it or hear it if they find out about it," Rachel Weintrab said.
Weintrab is a lawyer for Consumer Federation of America. She told 7 On Your Side, "Product registration cards or product warranty cards are a very important way that manufacturers can get in touch with consumers when there is a safety problem such as a recall."
Weintrab says many consumers don't fill the cards out because they simply look like a marketing tool. That's because the product registration cards often ask questions about education, shopping preferences and income levels. She said, "What we recommend for consumers is that they fill out these cards, but don't answer all those other types of questions. Only answer the types of questions that would enable the manufacturer to communicate directly with you when there is a recall."
In fact, Clark says she never filled out the product registration card for her dishwasher. However, she contacted Bosch about the fire and they replaced the dishwasher for free. She said, "I'll probably mail in this card now."
Another good way to stay on top of recalls is to go to the Consumer Product Safety Administration's website, and sign up for their RSS feeds which will send you updates.