Are Companies Responsible for Misuse of Products? Should they Feel Bad?

business_ethics_highlights_2Do companies bear any responsibility for misuse of their products? We’re not talking about lawsuits, here. (When it comes to consumers suing manufacturers, misuse can — so we are told — be defence against, but manufacturers need to plan for a “reasonable” amount of misuse.) We’re talking about widespread, harmful-but-not-disastrous misuse of a product. The two cases below present strange and interesting examples. >>>

LINK: The strange life of Q-tips, the most bizarre thing people buy (by Roberto A. Ferdman for Washington Post)

…Q-tips are one of the most perplexing things for sale in America. Plenty of consumer products are widely used in ways other than their core function — books for leveling tables, newspapers for keeping fires aflame, seltzer for removing stains, coffee tables for resting legs — but these cotton swabs are distinct. Q-tips are one of the only, if not the only, major consumer products whose main purpose is precisely the one the manufacturer explicitly warns against….

And see also:
The McDonald’s Cocaine Spoon Fiasco

…In the 1970s, every McDonald’s coffee came with a special stirring spoon. It was a glorious, elegant utensil — long, thin handle, tiny scooper on the end, each pridefully topped with the golden arches. It was a spoon specially designed to stir steaming brews, a spoon with no bad intentions.

It was also a spoon that lived in a dangerous era for spoons. Cocaine use was rampant and crafty dealers were constantly on the prowl for inconspicuous tools with which to measure and ingest the white powder. In the thralls of an anti-drug initiative, the innocent spoon soon found itself at the center of controversy, prompting McDonald’s to redesign it. In the years since, the irreproachable contraption has tirelessly haunted the fast food chain.

What do you think?

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One comment

  1. Alexei Marcoux

    The classic example is, of course, H.B. Fuller’s Resistol. Manufactured and marketed as a cobblers’ glue for shoe repair, it found an unintended market as a highly toxic way for Honduran street kids to get high.

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