The company that makes a popular magnetic desk toy for adults wants to know why the federal government is trying to shut down their business – a move the company’s founder is calling “unfair, unjust and un-American.”
Craig Zucker, the CEO and founder of BuckyBalls, has launched a national advertising campaign to save his company from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“Dear President Obama,” Zucker wrote in a full-page ad that appeared in the Washington Post. “I know that you support small business. And now I need your help to save ours from being shut down by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
The CPSC has filed a lawsuit against Maxfield & Oberton claiming Buckyballs and Buckycube desk toys “pose a substantial risk of injury to the public.”
There have been a handful of reports that children and teenagers have swallowed the tiny magnetic balls. Sabrina Lopez, of Bakersfield, Calif. had to undergo two surgeries after the 12-year-old swallowed four of the Buckyballs pieces, USA Today reported.
Betty Lopez, the child’s mother, told the newspaper that she never saw the warning label on the packaging and said it “wasn’t sufficient enough for the parent who did buy them.”
But Zucker said the product packaging includes five different warning labels – and clearly markets the item as an adult desk toy.
“Our packaging has warnings in five different locations,” he said. “Five times more than a package of cigarettes.”
Zucker said the CPSC wants to shut down his $50 million a year company.
“The worst case scenario – we’re out of business,” he said. “I walk in and tell my employees and my 200 sales reps that we’re all out of business.”
Zucker said there has been only handful of injuries connected to the product – compared with many more from children swallowing balloons. The injury level, he said, is extremely low.
“Balloons send hundreds of kids to the hospital each year,” he said. “But they don’t require a warning on each balloon.”
Zucker said he believes the federal government has overstepped its reach.
“They have acted absurdly,” he said. “This is an adult product. How do you regulate an adult product like this without following the rules of other products?”
He said he suspects the federal government targeted his company because they were “an easy target.”
“We’re a small company,” he said. “They thought we wouldn’t fight back and they would get a political win going into an election season.”
Zucker and his business partner started the company in 2009. The company grew from an initial investment of $2,000 to a $50 million brand.
“It what I believed going into the business was the American dream,” he said. ‘Within seven days it’s been dismantled by the government agency called the Consumer Protection Safety Commission.”