Response to product risk: wide variance among companies

If company “A” issues far more safety recalls than company “B,” a business rival of comparable size that has a similar line of products, isn’t the former entity automatically more of a concern to consumers and safety regulators?

Perhaps — but maybe not.

Indeed, company “A” might be a relative outlier in its industry, marked by a problematic safety record and a demonstrated lack of concern for consistently stringent safety measures that protect consumers against defective products.

Conversely, though, might it not be the case that consumers in Southern California and elsewhere who buy that company’s products are well served by a corporate board that opts to act quickly when it perceives a safety problem?

Put another way: It might just be company “B” that poses the greater public risk, owing to a business strategy of holding back on recalls until a clear pattern of risk and consumer harm has been established.

What can be gleaned from recall notices, states a recent CBS News article, “may say more about a company’s safety philosophy than just how many recalls they’ve undertaken.”

The above-cited article notes, for example, one national company with 24 recalls over a specified period, with another company having 19 recalls over that same time frame. The recalls issued by the former company occurred after its knowledge of 30 injuries reportedly associated with its products. In the case of the latter company, the fewer number of recalls it issued were preceded by 130 injuries.

It’s clearly not just how often a company issues a recall that must be considered in any assessment of its safety philosophy and record. Obviously, it is also key to note how quickly it acts — how “proactive” it is, as the CBS article notes — when it perceives in its own discretion and without waiting for injury reports to pile up that a problem exists and that action must be taken.

Consumers might want to keep that in mind when they hear recall-related news and are making judgments about a particular company’s ethics and sense of responsibility to the public.