Product recalls and how they’re handled in SA have long bothered me. I’ve written often (and will continue to do so) about companies that would rather hide defects/problems than protect consumers by being transparent about potential risks to consumers.
Comprehensive draft regulations compiled by the National Consumer Commission have yet to be finalised but when they are, they’ll set very stringent guidelines on how recalls will be conducted going forward. Until then, it’s up to individual companies to act responsibly and in the interests of consumers. Some are stepping up to the plate, others not.
One retailer that is doing more than most on this score is Woolworths and it deserves recognition for this. As I said at the time, its handling of the hot water bottle recall last year was impressive. The bottles, covered in knit and fleece, were identified as having a potential leak along the seam. The recall was prompted by several complaints, including from a customer who had scalded her leg.
Besides press releases, website, Facebook and Twitter notices, and SMS contact with account holders who’d bought the product, Woolworths put up large and highly visible signs at till points. The recall info would have been hard to miss.
But in case it was, Woolworths this week issued a reminder to customers who hadn’t yet returned the product to do so as soon as possible. Here’s what it sent out:
“Last September Woolworths recalled hot water bottles sold since April 2011 due to safety concerns.
With winter fast approaching, we’re reminding customers who bought hot water bottles last year to return the bottles to their nearest Woolworths clothing store for a full refund.
The recall applies to hot water bottles with style numbers 501120262, 501120270 and 501120254, barcodes 600910139792, 6009101397440, and 6009101147731.
“The safety of our customers is of utmost importance. This is simply a reminder to customers to return their bottles. We know that South Africans trust Woolworths for quality and would like to apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused,” says Woolworths Director of Clothing and General Merchandise, Brett Kaplan.
Nice one, Woolworths. Keep it up.