Over the last 15 years that I’ve been working with manufacturers with recall programs, I’ve heard many terms thrown about for Product Recalls. There has been a lot of creativity employed to avoid the use of the word Recall. This has led to a lot of confusion for product safety professionals.
I remember speaking to a young product safety manager, who had recently joined a company. He told me that one of the things they were very proud of at his company was that they had never had to recall a product. As I was familiar with the company and familiar with a few recalls they issued over the years, I was puzzled by that statement. I asked him about a sizable recall the company had facilitated just a couple years prior to his joining the company. Later, he spoke with his manager who promptly told him that it was a “Product Replacement Program” and not a “Recall” as they did not take the old product back. Instead they had the customer discard the product and sent a replacement product to the customer. His manager also explained that they had conducted several replacement programs, but because they never had customers return the product, they had never had a recall. I wish I could say that this is an isolated incident, but it’s not.
There are many product safety people who truly believe that if the customer is not returning the entire product to them, they are not “Recalling” the product. They use terms such as Corrective Action, Retrofit, Replacement, Modification, etc. In recent times, CPSC has made a change and no matter what you want to call it internally, the news release they send say’s RECALL. Does the verbiage really make a difference where it counts, in the effective rate of the campaign? I’ve not personally seen a difference in the correction percentages whether the campaign is titled Recall or something else. What I have seen it do is help product safety professionals understand that the word “Recall” is not as bad a word as their marketing team may have led them to believe.
- Dan Hinkebein, Manager Recall Business Services