Ladder recall: Supplier suspended in what Massmart calls an 'exceptional case'
At least 57,000 Terra Firma and Mainstay ladders were sold in South Africa alone, and Massmart has taken a decisive stance against the supplier for potential safety risks.
JOHANNESBURG - The call to return thousands of aluminium ladders supplied to Massmart by Mainstay and Terra Firma from January 2019 has been dubbed an exceptional case by the African retailer.
Earlier this month, the National Consumer Commission (NCC) urged all customers who purchased the Mainstay and Terra Firma model JC 403 150kg multi-hinge aluminium ladder to cease using them, and return them to the store where they were purchased, namely Game and Makro.
The NCC reported 57,000 units that were sold in South Africa alone. This does not account for the ladders sold to other African countries Mainstay Ladders exported to, including Kenya, Mozambique, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Malawi, and Tanzania.
Massmart said the units were sold at Game from January 2019, and at Makro from October 2019.
The recall was flagged by Massmart after a competing supplier raised questions about the product. Massmart group corporate affairs senior vice president Brian Leroni said this prompted Massmart to re-submit the ladders to the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) for further testing.
"We found that the material (aluminium) specification was lower than originally specified. It appears that the supplier changed the specification without our knowledge in the intervening period," Leroni explained.
The ladders supplied by Mainstay and Terra Firma had a low historical customer return rate of 0.66% at Game, and 1.27% at Makro, and tests were previously conducted when the product was first procured.
But the supplier has now been suspended and is "unlikely to supply Massmart", Leroni revealed.
"This is an exceptional case in which the supplier made a unilateral decision without notifying Massmart."
Acting SABS CEO Sadhvir Bissoon said the ladders commissioned by Massmart were tested in accordance with South African National Standards (SANS) 50131.
"The products did not meet the minimum safety requirements that are specified in the various parts of the national standard," Bissoon said. This includes safety testing and load bearing.
Massmart's product recall announcement explained the tests conducted involved "material thickness and the static load test, which could compromise your safety."
Massmart's product recall, published in newspapers earlier this week. Picture: Supplied
"The SABS commends Massmart for testing the products and urges all retailers to sell tested and certified products. Such requests will ensure that industries apply the principles of self-regulation more efficiently," he added.
Responses from the NCC were not received by the time of publication.