Recall This!

Do we need to search for product recalls or be personally notified?

Every once in a while we read about a product, a battery, a toy that is recalled for problems, defects, hazardous material, etc. While some companies notify us by advertising, newspaper, corporate website address for this specific purpose ( and other means (consumerist), we are still not personally notified. There is some collateral damage with this approach: either we never realize we own defective products or we find out when it is too late. An example for the latter is a couple that sued Apple and Sony for the laptop battery exploding (link).

Besides the obvious desire to receive a product that is not dangerous and will act in our well being, there should be another way to notify us personally. If I purchase a camera that is defective and may physically harm me after use (see recent Sony recall story), I do not want to search for the recall but be automatically notified. Having the information available someplace does not necessarily assist me. It actually creates a new need: continually search for information on every single product I own, at different times during its life. Oh and don’t forget to cross your fingers that nothing is found. What is the reason there isn’t a better system? Is it because:

  • A proper system could not be determined
  • Companies hoping some of the products will function properly and save face and expense of recall, or
  • Reduce the expense of not releasing the product to the stores on time by predetermined launch date.

Whatever the reason may be, in the end, we are the ones who pay the price. Receiving money back, company credit, or repair doesn’t necessarily satisfy our needs. What about the effort we spent prior to the purchase searching for the product we seek? If we actually used the product, then there is additional time spent using it and then a malfunction, not including frustration, physical harm, etc.

I am not a promoter towards attempting to receive money from companies for these kind of incidents, but three things should be taken care of. First of all, there should be better quality assurance and higher standards when testing products prior to release. It seems a little odd that products are being released and within days problems pop up. After days, weeks, months, or maybe even years of testing, this problem was not found?! Another way to deal with this is by niche product release, and not mass market. If there are problems, the innovators and early adopters will announce it. Lastly, a solution to notify the specific consumers after the sale should be put in place.

What is your solution? Have you ever had to act on a product recall in the past? Do you have a solution that would notify us more efficiently and take care of this growing dilemma?