CPSIA Series: Talking Points When Calling Rep’s Office

by Walney on February 24, 2009

Everyone chooses to get involved in his or her community differently. Some volunteer for the PTA or at a non-for-profit, for example, while others are actively engaged in the political process.

The passing of CPSIA has many people stepping out of their comfort zones, however, and trying something new. For many people it’s the first time that they are regularly calling their state representatives to voice their concerns about the need to change this law immediately. Because this is new territory for many, the first couple of calls can often be awkward and you may not feel like you’re making your voice heard in the way you had intended.

In these situations, it’s often helpful to have a “cheat sheet” of talking points so that you have a place to start the conversation. As @trinlayk recommends, once you get your points down, you should also prioritize them so that you discuss those that are most important to you first since you may not be able to address them all.

Here are some talking points (you should prioritize as they apply to you) that should help kick start your call and conversation:

  • Stress the personal financial impact that CPSIA has on you and your family.
    • How does CPSIA effect your business? Be sure to quantify whenever you can with lost revenues, lost materials costs, lost opportunities, etc.
    • What parts of the law are most detrimental to your business? Do you create OOAK items that cannot withstand 3rd party testing? Do you have a line of clothing whose variations will make testing cost prohibitive?
  • Talk about the impact of CPSIA on your community.
    • Discuss the impact on the thrift and resale stores in your area. Talk about the most vulnerable groups in your city or town whose hardships will be even greater because of their inability to buy clothing, toys, or books because of this law.
    • Does a local religious group or charity regularly hold rummage sales to benefit their cause that will now be unable to hold their events?
    • What local craft fairs or kid’s events will be canceled because of CPSIA?
    • What stores have had to close due to CPSIA?
    • How is your library responding to this new law and what does the library see as the future of their children’s section?
  • Discuss the law’s impact on the local and national economy
    • How many suppliers do you use to produce your products? How many of the suppliers are local to your area or based in the United States? Remember to quantify wherever possible.
    • How many service providers do you use who will be impacted by your need to cut back due to this law? Web designers, copywriters, printers, caterers, etc.
    • How many employees do you have and will you be able to keep them employed?
    • How often did you have business meetings (small or large) at local venues throughout your area? Will you still be able to afford these?
  • Remind them about the ridiculous scope of this law
    • Books?
    • Ballpoint pens?
    • Kid’s ATVs? Depending on your area, you can speak more specifically to this because it is a regular part of your community’s activities or economy.

In addition to the above possible talking points, there are other things to keep in mind when calling. Some of these seem obvious but we can often forget them during a stressful situation. Here are some other recommendations:

  • If the person doesn’t tell you his or her name, ask for it so that you can document it in your notes.
  • Remember to speak slowly and clearly.
  • You have every right to expect professionalism from the person taking the call from a constituent. If for any reason the person is disrespectful, ask to speak to someone else. If someone else is not available at the time, call back later.
  • When you are finished with the call make sure you ask for a response to your call and provide the person with the appropriate information to get back to you.
  • If you are uncomfortable making a call and feel better writing it down then fax or email your representative. Every bit counts!

The stay has only been issued for a year and the law still remains as written. We need to continue to communicate our displeasure with this law until changes are made and that means repeatedly contacting our representatives to make our voices heard.

I will also be writing a post about how to educate our family and friends about CPSIA and what they can do to help. Look for that in the next week or so.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Will Belegon March 15, 2009 at 11:35 am

Thank you for this. I linked to it from my post about CPSIA at http://willbelegon.blogspot.com

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