Tuesday, September 21, 2010

When Product Recalls Go Too Far... Or, "It's Someone Else's Fault I'm an Idiot"

I'm a big fan of the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). Its laudable charge: To protect the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products. At any one time, the CPSC's website posts bulletins of thousands of product recalls--product defects that can (and often do) injure or kill unsuspecting consumers.

The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the 30% decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

Many of the product recall notifications get posted by companies with integrity (hard to believe in the face of such overwhelming evidence of avarice that such a characteristic still exists in corporate America).

I'll admit to trolling the product recall notifications to catch a company's poor product engineering, or worse, gross negligence. But today I came across a product recall that were the threat not so serious would have caused me to guffaw.

Here's the headline of the notification, friends: The Gerson Company Recalls Glass Vases Due to Laceration Hazard

As it turns out, unbelievably, the glass vases can shatter on impact, potentially causing lacerations to unsuspecting consumers who ostensibly try to clean up the shards. The recalled vases, MADE IN CHINA (another shocker) are made of clear glass and stand about 4" wide x 20" tall.

Imported by the Gerson Company, of Olathe, Kansas, the vases were sold for about $15 at Michael's stores in the U.S. and Canada from July 2006 through March 2010. Thus far, the Gerson Company has received nine reports of the vase shattering, including nine reports of lacerations to the hands.

The remedy suggested by the company and the CPSC: "Consumers should stop using the recalled vase and discard them immediately."

So let me get this straight: Glass vase shatters on impact with hard object (presumably the floor or ground). Consumer tries to pick up glass shards. Hands get lacerated. Consumer calls company to complain. Company urges consumers to discard the vase immediately (presumably in the trash, where it can shatter and likely lead to further lacerations).

It seems to me that consumers bear some responsibility for getting their hands lacerated when they pick up shattered glass. Or have we reached the laughable point in our society at which someone other than us is culpable for any misfortune that befalls us?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Egregious, Unforgivable Typos Drive Me Crazy

OK, so I haven't blogged since June. It's not like I have legions of followers eagerly awaiting whatever words I convey through the blogosphere. I mean, there are enough blogoprophets already. If you're seeking something profound, read the Bible. Or Mad magazine.

And now, to my irregularly scheduled blog entry.

Today's topic: Egregious typos.

All these social media outlets have allowed "Everyman" to vomit more writing into the world--most of it worthless unreadable crap that punishes the eyes as it confuses the mind. Making matters worse, along with proper grammar, many of these would-be Heming(no)ways have wantonly disobeyed the sacrosanct rules of proper spelling: Your has become UR, night nite, tomorrow tmrw; the list goes on.

I've made my peace with the execrable spelling that emanates, like a putrid mist, from social media. But when I see a typo in a press release from a reputable organization, it really steams my windows.

Today's disappointment comes from Consumer Reports, which posted at PR Newswire this winner.

If you didn't jump at the click, you missed the use of the word 'waiver' when clearly 'waver' is the right word. But I won't throw the writer under the bus; instead, let's aim for the editors who missed this misuse: That is, the editors at Consumer Reports and the editors at PR Newswire. Shame on you all.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Editorial Decisions at Facebook Reek of Censorship

Today I had a confrontation with Facebook. The confrontation was based on a post I listed regarding the recall by Kellogg Co. of 28 million boxes of their sugar cereals (here's a link to the article in the Wall Street Journal).

Facebook's actions regarding my posts on this legitimate news story--one which certainly could affect the millions of people who enjoy sugar cereals produced by Kellogg Co.--smack of the worst kind of censorship. You'll read the postings below and decide for yourself, but as a marketer with some experience in the opaque relationships between social media companies and companies trying to sell products (like Kellogg Co.), Facebook's arbitrary and capricious squelching of the facts should alarm all of us who use the platform.

Here's my first post, made at 2:23 PM today:
Kellogg Co. today recalled about 28 million boxes of cereal largely marketed to children out of concern that unpleasant smells and flavors emanating from the boxes' plastic packaging could be causing nausea and diarrhea. Hmmm. Maybe it's all those processed foods in the box that's contributing to the nausea?!

The post lasted about 13 minutes on the news feed, when suddenly it disappeared.

Noticing that my original post has mysteriously disappeared, at 2:38 I posted this:
Conspiracy theory o' the day: Bruce posts on FB a true (but disparaging) comment about Kellogg Co.'s recall of 28 million boxes of sugar-infused cereal. Post is on FB for ten minutes. Post mysteriously disappears from News Feed but remains on Bruce's profile. Question: What is FB's relationship with Kellogg Co.?

Apparently my first post alerted the Facebook Censors, because my second post only lasted less than four minutes on the news feed.

I figured Facebook might want to see the actual source of this information, the venerable Wall Street Journal, so at 2:41 I posted the following:
Dear FB editors: Here's the link to the article about the Kellogg Co.'s recall. Please explain why you are selectively removing my factual posts. What you're doing is censorship, pure and simple. I'm sure Mr. Zuckerberg would have something to say about that.

My friends, like the USSR's Izvestia or Pravda, like the Dear Leader in North Korea, or like any of the other powerful regimes (legislative or commercial) that have throughout history sought with varying degrees of success to suppress the truth, it's painfully apparent that Facebook only wants you to see content that it deems appropriate.