It’s sometimes funny to look back with hindsight at products that got banned. One wonders how they ever got made and went to market. These days, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is pretty tight on consumer safety, but it wasn’t always that way. Here are some of the products that companies have had banned.
For many children, last Christmas was a sombre time. Father Christmas wasn’t going to bring them any hoverboards this year. And it was all because of the mean US government claiming that hoverboards were dangerous.
The story that hoverboards were exploding all over the country began in December last year. Fortune magazine reported on the problem. Apparently, the batteries used in the boards weren’t up to scratch. They were cheap Chinese knock-offs, and they were catching fire in people’s homes.
But what was so strange about the incident was that the news stories didn’t stop parents from buying them. Instead, they continued to lap them up. It was the toy sensation of the year. When a ban was threatened just before Christmas, it actually increased demand. People wanted their kids to have the board, and to hell with the risks.
Eventually, cheap imports from reputable manufacturers were banned. But it didn’t stop the hoverboard market from flourishing in general. It just meant that we all had to pay a lot more. Still, at least hoverboards arrived in the nick of time for Back To The Future fans.
You might think that deep fat fryers are dangerous to your health even when they are working. And you’d be right. It’s as if they were designed to clog up your arteries. But that’s not the reason why the CPSC has recalled so many over the years. The main reason is because of how hot they are.
Back in 2008, the CPSC recalled all deep fat fryers sold by QVC. The reason? Fryers were overheating and causing burn hazards to consumers. And guess what: the fryers were made in China. QVC had to refund all of the people who had bought the fryers $60. But it wasn’t an enormous cost. According to the company, only 1,600 units were ever sold.
Things weren’t so rosy for JCPenney. It too had been selling deep fat fryers. And it’s fryers were again made in China. This time, the problem was far more serious than the risk of burning. According to consumer reports, the heating element in the fryer was overheating. This was causing fires to break out. Five customers reported their kitchen counters being burned by the product. JCPenney sold the fryers for $50. But it had sold $27,000 of them, and all of them were eligible for recall. Ouch!
Consumers have a right to protection from defective items. But apparently, toymaker Hasbro didn’t get the message. Back in 2004, it released its flagship toy product, Monster Rockets. These rockets were designed to be filled with water, pumped up, and then shot into the air. But like their bigger, NASA-built cousins, they were temperamental and dangerous.
Problems started when the water tanks on board began exploding. Beautiful, of course, if you were several metres away. Not so good if you’re up close. Apparently, the cap on the water tank was shooting off and hitting kids in the face and eyes.
On top of that, there were all the problems you might expect from a toy rocket. The first was that kids weren’t following Hasbro’s launch safety protocol. (No surprises there). Instead of firing the rocket up into the air, they were shooting it at an angle. And this was putting bystanders at risk.
On top of that, there was the problem of the rocket falling to Earth. According to the CPSC investigation, rockets were hitting people on the head with alarming frequency.
The rockets were made in China and were distributed to Toys ‘R’ Us, Target and KB Toys stores. They cost $30 back in 2004. And between them, retailers recalled 230,000 rockets.
It’s always exciting when technology moves into the kitchen. And recently, we’ve seen an explosion in interest in fondues. They’re especially popular among people who have recently fallen in love for some reason.
Anyway, there have been some companies who jumped on the bandwagon, only to mess up catastrophically. One such company was Trudeau Corp. Back in 2003, it announced that it had been having some problems with one of its most popular fondue sets. Consumers were reporting to the company that the plastic handles on the unit were melting. And this was then leading to people getting burned and the product breaking down. Strangely, the CPSC didn’t intervene. Instead, Trudeau Corp voluntarily issued a recall of all 45,200 fondue sets.
The fondue sets had been sold at stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond. Consumers were told to stop using the sets and to contact Trudeau for a replacement. Trudeau also offered customers a set of six stoneware forks as an apology.
Common sense ought to suggest that electricity and blankets aren’t the best bedfellows. But they’re so snug and wonderful in the winter; we’d be lost without them.
It must be said that most companies do a great job of keeping blankets safe. However, one company really messed up. Soiree and Soft n’ Warm got into trouble in 2003 when its electric blankets began burning people. Apparently, things had started going wrong when the blanket was folded or bunched up. And over the preceding year, there had been 44 complaints of the blankets overheating. Four people were seriously burned as a result of the defect.
Soiree and Soft n’ Warm were very apologetic for the whole incident. They offered customers an immediate replacement and asked them to unplug defective blankets. King size blankets were $200 a pop, so it cost the company dear.
How can a baby monitor be dangerous, I hear you ask? Again, it’s because of cheap, defective batteries.
Lorex is a company that makes baby monitors. It’s Care ‘N’ Share range has proven popular among parents and children alike. However, the company has had, as of this month, 488 reports of batteries overheating. In the most extreme cases, users report that the battery packs actually expand as they heat up, popping off the casing. So far there have been no reports of any injuries. Now Lorex must recall more than 26,000 monitors from the US and 8,000 from Canada.
The idea behind the electric bottle is simple. Tommee Tippee wanted parents to have a device that would keep baby milk and food warm. The warmer has a cute little dial on the front, which controls the temperatures. And it’s designed to be a modern family convenience.
However, things started to go wrong for Tommee Tippee when its food warmers started melting, smoking and catching fire. As a result of the dangers, the company ended up causing thousands of dollars in property damage. In one case, the company was forced to pay out more than $16,000.
Electric bottle warmers were sold in practically every baby supply store in the US. That includes Baby Depot, Baby Heaven, Target and Wal-Mart. The company behind the electric bottle is now offering customers free replacements.
Turtle Beach is a company in the business of making gaming headsets for PC gamers. As a result, it wants to woo them with the highest quality materials and products. Or does it?
Last year, the company’s XO Four Stealth gaming headset was recalled. And it’s not because it started setting gamer’s hair on fire. Instead, it was something altogether nastier. Consumers began reporting that their headsets were growing a thick layer of mold around the earmuffs. The CPSC immediately responded, telling customers to send their products back for a replacement. Customers of Turtle Beach were advised to put their old headsets in a sealed plastic bag and then tape them inside the box in which they arrived. Otherwise, it could potentially be a biohazard. The spores found on the headset could have caused respiratory and breathing issues in vulnerable people.
Most of us know the name Olympus. They’re a company that makes portable, digital cameras. And they’re proud of it. So you can imagine their surprise when they found out that one of their cameras was a shock risk. The incident involved the popular VG-170 digital point-and-shoot camera. The camera has an optical zoom feature as well as an inbuilt flash. It’s not top of the range stuff, but it’s not bad.
According to reports, the cameras weren’t manufactured to high enough standards. This meant that it was easy for user’s fingers to touch the internal circuitry. And because the cameras had large capacitors, they could potentially experience a powerful shock. Nobody was injured by the camera. But the company behind it didn’t want to take any risks. They recalled the product for a free inspection and repair. Let’s hope that sorted out the problem.
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