Do product recall systems lead to consumer desensitization?

Technology and social media in particular provides so many avenues of communication between businesses and consumers, as well as safety agencies and consumers. This is a good thing, right? When a defective product, dangerous drug or other questionable product hits the market, mediums like Twitter and Facebook can more quickly inform a wide population of consumers.

But when people hear about multiple product recalls on a regular basis, does the seriousness of the dangerous situation get lost on consumers? Safety regulators and businesses suspect that the frequency of product recalls is causing consumers to ignore recall announcements and/or underestimate their seriousness.

There are more product recalls nationwide than in the past. Yes, that is a sign that retailers, product manufacturers and regulators need to do more to prevent dangerous products from hitting the market, but it is also a sign of something positive. There are more formal product recall systems among safety agencies and retailers. Consumers are more easily notified of a product recall that could potentially put their health at risk.

Sometimes, the product recall systems fall short, with the news of a dangerous product not reaching consumers until it is too late. Especially for retailers and product manufacturers, they have interest in postponing a recall because they fear that word of a dangerous product will put their businesses at risk.

Ideally, we would see fewer notifications of product recalls because fewer products need to be recalled. Manufacturers would create safer products and retailers would be more conscious of what goods they are putting on their shelves. There would be more individual product safety regulators who can devote more time to the inspection of product creation and sales throughout the country.

For now, in this less-than-ideal world, consumers need to fight against becoming numb to announcements of dangerous products. They need to pay attention to the warnings and take action if they believe that they have brought a defective product into their homes. Also, they need to speak out if they believe that a product should be recalled. They can do that by contacting a product manufacturer, retailer and a product liability attorney. Such action could prevent numerous injuries and even death.

Source: USA Today, “Surge in products being recalled may be numbing consumers,” Christopher Doering, June 10, 2012

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