ConsumerBell Aims to Make Product Recalls Less Painful for Manufacturers and Consumers

6/14/11Follow @arleneweintraub

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learn it from scratch in a crisis,” Cachette says. The site is also catching on with public relations agencies that may be working with companies on recalls, including early adopter Barkley PR, based in Kansas City.

ConsumerBell’s revenues come from its corporate customers, who pay $1 to $3 per completed “transaction,” such as a consumer filling out a refund request on the site.

For buyers of faulty products, ConsumerBell is designed to offer more control, comfort, and interaction that one would normally get, say, by calling an 800 number. “People can go online and provide the company with all the information that’s needed” about a recalled product they own, Cachette says. “They can sign up to get updates from the company. They can get e-mails saying ‘Your repair will be ready in a week.’ So there’s a level of engagement you don’t get with an 800 number.”

Cachette, who was previously a technical product manager for Macys, launched ConsumerBell with $80,000 in angel funding. The startup was plagued with challenges—it was turned down by the TechStars Boston incubator and some prominent angel groups—prompting Cachette to document her travails on Women 2.0. Cachette had been living in San Francisco, but she moved the company to New York in February “to be close to large manufacturers and marketing agencies,” she says.

The ConsumerBell startup team is now raising a seed round and gearing up for several site improvements they plan to launch this year. ConsumerBell will expand to Canada, and Cachette also hopes to start listing recalls of “digital goods”—online credits and downloads gone bad. She says ConsumerBell will expand into pharmaceutical recalls by the end of the year.

Most of Cachette’s competition is coming from large companies that are trying to manage their own recall processes online. But those companies haven’t mastered search-engine optimization and other basics of online communication—and that ultimately hurts the end customer, she contends. “The odds of a consumer finding [recall notices] are small,” she says. “There’s more value in having them in a central place. We’re like the Amazon for broken things.”

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