Product Recall Notices: Friend or Foe?
The relentless airbag recall notices concerning my mother’s old truck have progressed from a mailbox-clogging nuisance to a grim reminder that our unresponsiveness has felled more trees than Paul Bunyan in his prime.
Okay, I realize more consumers should be conscientious about product recalls, for the safety of themselves, their families and mankind in general. But when you’re a husband, father, son, inventory clerk, writer and Sunday school teacher, arranging your schedule around somebody else’s screw-up is not necessarily Job One.
Besides, my mother hasn’t driven since she turned 90 or 91. I chauffeured her in her truck briefly, but now I drive her to the doctor in my car. The truck has been parked for more than a year. Insurance coverage has lapsed.
But, with the hope that springs eternal within the corporate liability attorney’s chest, the notices continue.
Usually, the glossy recall entreaties are instantly recognizable; but sometimes the sly manufacturer disguises them as something less triggering, like, I don’t know, an appeal from the Jehovah’s Witness Fruitcake & Bagpipes Festival.
The company has become increasingly desperate to cajole us into getting the repair done. They offered a loaner vehicle. They indicated they MIGHT be able to send a mechanic out to the premises. I think the latest offer was sending a second technician to moon up to five of my enemies while his buddy test-drives the truck.
One of the most galling aspects of this ordeal is that Mom already took the truck to a dealership and got the airbag repaired several years ago.
But now the letters tell us something to the effect of “Oopsie. After fixing all those millions of vehicles, we remembered it was just a PARTIAL fix. You’ll need to schedule another visit to the dealership. I swear, we’d forget our heads if they weren’t tied on! Ha ha. They’ll probably fall off anyway, since we bought the string from some shady guy in the alley.”
Honestly, I would hold recall notices in higher regard if the producers of vehicles, appliances and food would be a little more forthcoming about the perfect storm of incompetence, haste and penny-pinching that created, say, an UNEXPECTED CHOKING HAZARD WITH BALL PEEN HAMMERS in the first place.
That’s right - no wishy-washy mea culpa. We want names and consequences! (“Honest, until we found ol’ Brad Strudelflinger’s suicide note a month later, we thought he was just funning’ us about dumping his ex-wife’s body in the vat of clam chowder. Live and learn. We did slap Brad’s wrist at the funeral home.”)