McGregor Says: Talking consumer regulations and practices

I was disturbed by a notice I saw the other day that shook me to the core as a consumer. It didn’t make the local or national news and it wasn’t spread across the front pages of newspapers but, to me, it sends a signal that we all should be more vigilant.

The notice was a Health Canada distributor’s recall of more than 10,000 yellow rubber duckies.  Yes, the little yellow bathtub toy with the orange beak that squeaks when you squeeze it, has improperly installed squeakers and, “Consumers should immediately stop using the ducks and return to the place of purchase for a full refund.”

According to the attached documentation, the squeaker is too easily removed and while at this time there has been no report of injury, it is a national safety concern.

Imagine that, a toy that bobs up and down in a sudsy tub, often a child’s very first toy that brings giggles and baby laughs when Mom squeezes it, suddenly becomes a national hazard because of faulty manufacturing.

We see recalls every day. Automobiles, furniture, cars seats, cribs, cellphones, food and toys. The only recalls I ever experienced growing up was when Mom had to come out on the back porch and re-call us for dinner because we hadn’t heard her the first time.

Dad never had to take the 1956 Chevy back to the dealer because the brakes were faulty and the lead paint on the sharp metal sliding gate of our crib just made us kids tougher, and nobody sent us letter asking us to bring it back.

I did some research and came across a little known agency called Consumer Regulations And Practices, or CRAP.  Anyone manufacturing or importing products has to meet these minimum CRAP standards before they appear on store shelves. You will not see any documentation of these standards on the product, but often, after you have used it for a while, you will hear yourself declaring, “This is CRAP.”

I bought some new socks just after Christmas. I wore them, washed them and wore them again and a hole appeared in the heel. In the olden days, My Mom would sit down and darn the hole and they would be good to wear again. On this pair there was nothing but crap to work with. The only darning I could do was roll them up, say, “Darn socks,” and toss them in the garbage.

Four years ago, I bought a barbecue and I use it all year round. Cooking slabs of meat over open flames goes back to cave man times, it is in a man’s DNA. I need a new burner tube but the man at the store says they no longer make that model so they no longer make replacement parts. I need a new barbecue. Of course I replied, “CRAP!”

He proceeded to show me one for $1,400 and it comes with a 10-year guarantee. I asked him if he or the manufacturer would still be around in 10 years or be gone like the one I have now. He said he couldn’t guarantee that.

We get caught up in sale prices and liquidation sales and we fall into the CRAP trap.

Take your time when you’re going to spend your hard-earned money.

Keep your rubber duckies in a row, save your receipts in case they get recalled.

At least that’s what McGregor says.

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