"Beware of Product Recalls"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, May 6, 2016

What ever happened to quality? It turned into recalls.

Many of the purchases you make have a warranty card that may state, “For your safety, we request you register this product in the event of a recall.” Recalls have become common and often expected. In some cases they may even be lifesaving because they are requested after injuries or deaths have occurred.

In the past, it seemed as though recalls only applied to automobiles. Not anymore. Household products, appliances, toys, baby cribs and multiple food items are among the items being recalled.

Perhaps they provide an easy way out for manufacturers if multiple injuries occur on a certain brand of tire, or a specific vehicle, or chicken from a particular farm.

As I see it, many recalls should be initiated long before an announcement is made. Hundreds of people were injured from air bags before the first recall was issued. By the time it was finally announced, people had died and the manufacturer was reported to be financially unable to furnish the thousands of replacements needed. I’ve read reports that say dealers have new cars they can’t sell because of the delayed recalls.

A few years ago a food recall involved a major egg supplier who had delivered tainted eggs that caused a large salmonella outbreak. The eggs showed up in a large hotel’s kitchens causing many guests to fall ill. I was one of them, along with my daughter. When my wife, who was quite alarmed at the severity of our conditions contacted the hotel management, they sent EMS techs to my room.

I was told to restrict my diet and rest and I would feel better in 24 hours. We learned that several other guests had reported the same illness. The next day the local news announced a nationwide egg recall. We were due to check out but had to stay an extra day because we were too sick to travel. When we requested compensation we were told: “Unless you gave us samples for testing or went to the emergency room and proof was provided that you suffered food poisoning, we cannot allow it.”

We were directed to the hotel’s legal department when we later filed a complaint. They told us there was no record of EMS visits to any of the hotel guest’s rooms for the day in question. Just imagine being so sick in bed you can’t move and having to pay $200 to remain in that bed. After we returned home and monitored news of the outbreak, we learned the hotel we had visited received notice prior to the outbreak but took no action.

We all have to be diligent regarding food recalls because of reductions in the number of inspectors and the vast amounts of imported food items.

A recent nationwide recall involved the wildly popular Hoverboards that were on everyone’s Christmas list last year. A national TV report told of a parent who had attempted to return one to a store saying it was heating up. The store refused to refund or exchange it, and the customer took it back home. Later that night, the family’s home caught fire and the Hoverboard was found to be the cause.

According to the Consumer Protection Service Commission, from Dec. 1, 2015, to Feb. 17 the Hoverboards caused 52 fires that resulted in $2 million of damage. They went from “must have” toys to a serious health hazard.

Another recent case involved the purchase of a battery-operated item. The owner had not registered it with the manufacturer so when a fire resulted from battery failure they were told: “Because the purchase card was not returned, we had no way to notify you of a recall.” The lithium batteries found in so many items are becoming a real danger. There is a reason the airplanes don’t want them on board. It would be a good idea to disconnect them when not in use. Recalls are becoming part of our daily lives.

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