Over the past few months I have noticed an abundance of recalls for various products, including mass recalls after ignition switch defects in General Motors cars. As noted on their website (http://www.gmignitionupdate.com/faq.html),
“There is a risk, under certain conditions, that your ignition switch may move out of the “run” position, resulting in a partial loss of electrical power and turning off the engine. This risk increases if your key ring is carrying added weight (such as more keys or the key fob) or your vehicle experiences rough road conditions or other jarring or impact related events. If the ignition switch is not in the run position, the air bags may not deploy if the vehicle is involved in a crash, increasing the risk of injury or fatality.
Additionally, some of these vehicles have a condition in which the ignition key may be removed when the vehicle gear is not in the “Off” position. If the ignition key is removed when the ignition is not in the “Off” position, unintended vehicle motion may occur: (a) for an automatic transmission, if the transmission is not in “Park”; or (b) for a manual transmission, if the parking brake is not engaged and the transmission is not in reverse gear. This could result in a vehicle crash and occupant or pedestrian injuries.”
Alarmingly many of these recent recalls are products intended to protect our youngest and most vulnerable, for example child seats (eg., faulty harness buckles, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/03/13/graco-adds-more-child-seats-to-recall/6365789/), and cots (eg., possible entrapment of infant limbs, http://www.recalls.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1054130).
Some food-related recalls are of particular concern, given the potentially-life threatening nature of many nut allergies (eg., cereal, http://www.recalls.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1057890; Easter eggs, http://www.recalls.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1057600).
Whilst I have heard about these recalls through different means (such as newspapers, online forums, and active research for this blog), I wonder how many of the products’ consumers actually know about these recalls? We received a letter earlier this year advising that our model of Sonata required a minor tweak to circumvent potential brake-related issues (ironically enough this ‘minor tweak’ radically affected the vehicle’s braking, as the replacement part itself was faulty). What if the consumer has moved address (which is entirely possible given we purchased the vehicle 5 years ago), does not have internet access, and does not subscribe to or read a newspaper? Should there be greater onus on producers to not only ensure that they have as safe a product as possible in the marketplace, but that they also make every effort (and not a ‘token’ effort) to ensure that they minimise any potential harm that could be caused by their faulty product by ensuring they recall, then repair/replace these products, in a timely manner for the consumer?