From time to time, faulty products slip through even diligent companies. The way a company handles recalls can make or break it. In these situations, smart customer relations are more important than ever to prevent an irreparable disaster.
Lululemon Sheer Yoga Pants – Requiring Proof for Returns
Image via Flickr by lululemon athletica
When consumers found that Lululemon’s yoga pants were embarrassingly transparent, the company prudently issued a recall. However, some customers reported that employees asked them to prove their pants were see-through before they would take them back. This involved the customer putting on the pants, bending over, and enduring the scrutiny of a sales associate. A pure disaster for public relations, this could have been avoid very simply by educating employees on the proper way to apologetically handle a recall.
Chick-fil-A Jim Henson Puppets – Attempting to Backdate a Recall
Chick-fil-A’s recalls of Jim Henson puppets in their kids meals conveniently happened just one day before the Henson company elected to pull the toys themselves to disassociate their products with Chick-fil-A’s gay marriage stance. Or so we’re told. The company issued no recall information on the 19th when it supposedly took place. They published their first public notice of it over a week later on the 27th. When covering one PR disaster, take care not to create a new one.
Pet Food Recall – Unclear Reports Regarding Death Tolls
The 2007 pet food recall involved multiple manufacturers. Customers felt alarmed enough about the news of potentially lethal pet food, but manufacturers made things worse by offering unclear information. Only 14 deaths were officially reported by the FDA, though the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians confirmed 226 deaths. Providing clear information on the dangers of a product is the best way to convince customers that they can still trust you after a recall.
Toyota Prius Recall – Slow Action
Toyota’s first reaction to the Prius recall was so slow that Gene Grabowski of Levick Strategic Communications called it the “worst-handled auto recall in history.” In November 2009, the company recalled 5.3 million cars for having poorly fit floor mats that caught on the gas pedal. January of 2010 saw a second recall, this time of 4.1 million vehicles, for a faulty gas pedal that stuck even without the hazardous floor mat. Quicker action and communication would have eased consumer anxiety all the way around.
Michael’s Glock Holsters – DIY Recall Parts Issued
In 2002, a line of Kydex belt holsters sold through Uncle Mike’s and Uncle Mike’s Law Enforcement catalogs had a dangerous flaw. The retention strap could cause the firearm to discharge when reholstered. This resulted in three unexpected discharges, one involving a law enforcement officer. Instead of offering new holsters to replace those that might cause you to shoot yourself in the leg, they simply offered a replacement strap that you could insert yourself. A more complete product replacement would have made a better impression.
Product recalls are an unfortunate part of life, but keeping up with smart PR strategies from professionals like Ken Fisher, contributor for Forbes, will help you stay ahead of some potential disasters. Handling recalls properly makes a major difference in the fallout.