Most product recalls are boring -- some rust-proofing isn't up to par, some toy could conceivably be eaten by a particularly stupid child. It's usually just a precaution. After all, no product hits the market without months or years of testing first. Manufacturers aren't morons.
Yet sometimes you hear about a product that fails in a way that almost seems like intentional sabotage and/or a cruel practical joke. Like ...
#5. Gun Holsters That Shoot You in the Leg
A gun holster seems like a pretty simple device. It's basically just a gun-shaped pocket, right? If it were to fail, it seems like the worst that could happen is that the gun would fall out when you're walking around the grocery store. Or maybe in a quick-draw situation it would stick and the bad guy could get the jump on you -- but how often does that come up in everyday life?
Well, it turns out there is one fairly important thing that can go wrong ...
The Horrible Malfunction:
Apparently manufactured by our own favorite drunk uncle, the 2002 version of Uncle Mike's gun holster for Glock model handguns had a nasty tendency to shoot at people.
Which isn't to say the holsters were useless.
The malfunctioning line featured a retention strap that did the exact opposite of what it should have done, i.e., securing the gun in place so it couldn't be accidentally fired. Instead, when you took your gun out of the holster, the strap had a tendency to move out of position and actually pull the gun's trigger when it was reholstered.
Heads started turning after three separate occasions of holster-induced involuntary discharges, not least because one of them was an actual cop who was shot in the leg. Instead of completely recalling the product, the company opted to just replace the flawed straps with a wider, differently designed version that the consumers could install themselves. Because when your product has a flaw that shoots bullets, the most logical move is to make your clients fix it DIY style.
Consumer Product Safety Commission
"Any customer foolish enough to buy our product deserves only contempt."
It could be worse, though. It could have been ...
#4. A Flammable Fire Extinguisher
In the 1990s, a company called Colbra Corporation introduced a revolutionary new fire extinguisher called Fire Cap. It was a very unorthodox device: a small 16-ounce bottle (not unlike a hairspray can) that was meant to put out little spot fires. Like if your trash can caught on fire or something.
Well, hell, everybody should have one of those on hand. In fact, the city of Jackson, Mississippi, actually adopted it as their police department's official fire control device. The Fire Cap went on to sell by the truckload in multiple countries, and the world was the company's oyster. But by 2000, Colbra Corporation was bankrupt, and it was clear that anyone who had ever used the Fire Cap would probably have a lot of explaining to do to their insurance companies.
Fire Cap: Because sometimes having insurance money is better than having stuff.
The Horrible Malfunction:
If you're wondering exactly how the Colbra Corporation managed to bottle something that stops fires that efficiently in a mere aerosol can, we have an answer for you: They didn't. Fire Cap wasn't very good at stopping fires.
In fact, according to the recall notice of the product, it didn't stop fires at all. If anything, it intensified them.
So, uh, yeah. Maybe we aren't the best source for advice on fire retardant genitals.
That ... really seems like something they should have noticed on the first day of product testing, right? Like even if the first time they tried it their test fire went out, they'd probably try it a few more times just to make sure, right? Maybe by setting a variety of things on fire?
Instead, for years Colbra had managed to sell thousands of cans of a product that operated on a sliding scale from zero to doing the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do, and no one found out, because apparently there were no fires whatsoever in Jackson before 2000.
Don't worry, though, they've had plenty since.
And, to be frank, the fact that it took so long for anyone to bother using it makes us kind of angry. Look at that thing. It's stop-fire in a spray can, people! We'd have tested the Fire Cap the second we purchased it. Just flat out set the store counter on fire and tried it out.
#3. Hand Sanitizer That Adds Bacteria to Your Skin
Modern man's germ phobia is unlocking new levels of paranoia every week, and boy are the companies cashing in. One major sign of this phenomenon is the rise of hand sanitizers. Essentially, they're just bottles of rubbing alcohol with a thickening agent and hopefully something to make it not smell like rubbing alcohol -- it's not exactly rocket science. And, from the manufacturers' viewpoint, they're pretty much a dream product: easy to make, easy to market and in constant demand.
And it all started with some billionaire visionary wondering if there was a way to bottle OCD.
The only way to mess up something that simple would be filling the bottle with the exact opposite of what should be in there. Just filling it to bursting with pure filth.
In 2009, Clarcon Biological Chemistry Laboratory did just that.
The Horrible Malfunction:
Meet the Dermassentials by Clarcon Antimicrobial Hand Sanitizer. Pay particular attention to the word "antimicrobial." It was supposed to be a revolutionary "bioganic" sanitizing product that was specifically made to contain no alcohol, presumably to stop hobos from stealing the bottles. Instead, it ended up proving that alcohol -- also known as the thing in hand sanitizers that actually does the sanitizing part -- does play a pretty important role in the mix.
Clarcon Antimicrobial Hand Sanitizer, along with several other products of the same line, was quickly found to contain dangerously high levels of disease-causing bacteria. This was especially embarrassing, because the company not only specifically labeled the product as being particularly efficient in kicking microbe ass, but also marketed it as an effective sanitizer for open wounds.
"You know what, why don't you just take a dump on it instead?"
The bacteria in the product weren't just your average disease cocktail, either -- some of the germs the sanitizer was found to contain were deemed dangerous enough to potentially cause conditions that require medical and even surgical attention. And while inflicting the user with flesh-eating bacteria may indeed be an efficient way to get rid of dirty skin, the FDA was less than thrilled and the product was hastily recalled.
That isn't red dye. It's blood the Red Cross turned down.
And, on the extreme opposite end of the cleaning product failure scale ...