7 Products That Got Recalled For The Weirdest Reasons
How often do you find yourself regretting a purchase? I'm not talking about the pizza you regret ordering as soon as you hang up the phone or the final shot of tequila ordered at a Vegas bar. I'm talking about hard goods that you bought and paid for and expected to use. Things that are supposed to last, or at least not be digested. Cars, toys, gadgets, gizmos. Non-disposable hard goods. Hopefully, it doesn't happen to you very often, at least for reasons besides buyers' remorse. (You absolutely should regret ordering that special edition Funko Pop! of ALF.)
No, usually, that regret stems from a defect, an error in manufacturing, or some sort of design flaw. When that happens on a large enough scale, there is often a recall. Many recalls happen at the request of consumer protection agencies such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but on occasion, a product will be pulled by a manufacturer before the government even gets on their case ...
"Hey," some of you automotive aficionados might be saying right now, "Mitsubishi makes those cars, and it's spelled spyder!" And you'd be right, but the spiders in question weren't the model of car, but rather thousands of literal spiders that were attracted to the Mazda 6.
Roughly 94,000 Mazda 6s were recalled from 2010 to 2014 because spiders were building webs inside the cars, which could cause potentially dangerous complications. Though rather than the sporty lines or trim options, yellow sac spiders appeared to be primarily interested in the smell of gasoline. They're so fond of it that they will start nesting in fuel lines and engine vents.
While other manufacturers in North America also contend with the fume huffing arachnids, the problems Mazda 6s had were particularly pronounced. During the initial phase of the recall, PETA asked those with infested cars to donate them, though it's unclear if anybody took them up on the offer or if they were used to euthanize any animals.
Eventually, Mazda managed to solve the issue by adjusting the software of be-webbed cars to account for additional clogging. There are thus far no reports of bugs in the anti-spider software, while Norman Osborn found a new whip to buy.
The One Thing In Your House You Never Want To Explode
A former President whose last name rhymes with "dump" famously had issues with flushing. "People," he said in what was probably a speech about rolling back laws promoting the use of water-saving appliances and CERTAINLY not an issue he personally had with plumbing, "are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once."
While increasing the overall amount of water to handle presidential-sized loads is one option, another way is to pressurize the water, so less of it is needed to increase flushing power. But with great flushing power comes great responsibility. Flushmate, a purveyor of pressure-assisted toilet flushing systems, had to recall 1.5 million units in 2018, which came on the tail of recalls of earlier models that also numbered in the millions. All told, 38 people have reported being injured due to malfunctions by units undergoing catastrophic failure.
The technology is sound, but make sure not to accept any secondhand flush assistance units for the low-flow toilet that government tyranny (or environmental responsibility and cost savings) installed in your home.
A Brightly Burning Galaxy
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was a hot item in 2016. Not only did it feature a slick stylus, high-spec camera, an edge-to-edge screen, it featured batteries that spontaneously combusted in pockets, bags, and in fast food joints. Even units that didn't go up in flames had issues with batteries bulging as the lithium-ion batteries swelled like balloons as their chemical components interacted in unforeseen ways.
Fortunately, nobody died as a result of the Note 7's hidden hand grenade feature, but on top of over a million units being recalled, Samsung faced a number of lawsuits related to the SNAFU.
While these problems weren't unique to the Note 7, the highly publicized recall is probably the first time many people became aware that the batteries all around us held that much power.
Ferrari Accidentally Makes The Ultimate Kidnapping Vehicle
Considering what you pay for a Ferrari, you expect top-notch quality assurance and design. Unlike the other Italian auto manufacturer whose name begins with an F, the famous supercars fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars used.
Yet over 3,000 Ferrari 458 Italias were recalled in 2014 because their trunks could not be opened from the inside. The hyper-luxurious cars lacked the proper interior latch to fully open the trunk (a frequently used feature on Ferraris) if somebody were trapped inside. Instead, the hypothetical child of some plutocrat would only be able to crack the airtight seal around the space, avoiding suffocation but still not quite up to spec.
It's hard to come up with a better illustration of Silicon Valley "innovation" that doesn't actually accomplish anything than the Juceiro. It was a $400 ($700 at launch) juicer that required a Wi-Fi connection and could only press fruit that came in pre-filled bags with an RFID chip to make sure it was a proprietary batch of fruit. You could only order those bags through their subscription service because if you're the kind of person who will spend that much on a juicer that needs your router to be working, you're the kind of person who will keep spending money on it. Things seemed to be going okay for them for a while.
At least as the company was falling apart, they offered their customers full refunds. Though it might be even sadder that they did the right thing by their customers because that means the entire venture was more than just pure grift and somebody, somewhere, sincerely believed this was something the world needed.
On the other hand, the founder pivoted to selling unfiltered, untreated water that often turns green, so maybe sincerity doesn't matter.
These days, video games rarely get recalled. So many purchases are just digital copies, and it's usually more effective for anything wrong with the game to be fixed via an update or patch, even for the holdouts still buying physical copies.
Way back in 2005, pushing out an update wasn't an option for most games, including Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which got publisher Rockstar in hot water for the infamous "Hot Coffee" mod. The mod reactivated the ability for players to play a minigame that depicted goofy sex scenes when one of the player's girlfriends invited them up to their apartment "for coffee."
Before the game was finished, the devs decided not to include Hot Coffee. However, since the work on the minigame was already completed and elements of the programming for those scenes were used elsewhere, removing it entirely would require considerable work. So they simply changed one variable and locked the content off.
And that would've been it if it weren't for a mod that re-enabled the content, prompting a change in rating from M for Mature to AO for Adults Only. Rockstar argued that the mod added content they hadn't made. That lie just made it when hacking the PS2 and Xbox editions made it clear Hot Coffee was originally part of all versions that shipped. The result was a huge blow to the business since, at the time, most retailers refused to sell AO-rated games in the US. Most of them pulled the existing copies from shelves, and a new version had to be submitted for ESRB approval before new ones could be shipped.
Little Mama Sees The Light
In 2008 Mattel released the Cuddle 'n Coo doll, a pretty straightforward toy in the shape of a baby that rotated its head and limbs and babbled nonsense noises. Unfortunately, the majority of the nonsense that the doll brought came not from the toy but from paranoid parents.
One of the randomized sound files the toy would play when its button was pushed was widely reported to actually be an insidious attempt to brainwash children.
Many parents reported hearing the baby doll take an advanced theological position and declare, "Islam is the light!" Or "Satan is king!" Or any number of statements objectionable to the sort of parent who screens their child's toys for heresy.
What likely happened is one paranoid parent imagined the phrase from the mix of goos and gahs ("Mama" was the only actual word programmed in the doll) and told other parents, who then heard the same thing precisely because they were listening for it. Mattel wound up refusing to pull the doll from shelves but did reprogram unshipped units. A group with the clever acronym MAMA claimed to have successfully pressured Walmart and a handful of local stores to stop selling the doll ... as chronicled on an Islamophobic site which is the only place to find their statements after their recall website went down.
Top Image: Gabor Monori/Unsplash