Feb 012012
Authors: Lydia Jorden

It happens when your eyes catch a glimpse of the “do not eat toner” warning label while putting ink in the printer. It happens when you turn on your hair dryer and notice the, “never use hair dryer while sleeping” label. It happens when you grab that hot can of bear spray to ward the bear off your porch and your eyes catch the, “may cause eye irritation” label.

Yes folks, we’re talking about the complete confusion and slight blow to our intelligence we experience when we read these wacky warning labels posted on so many products we use on a daily basis.

Unless you are on TLC’s “My Strange Addiction” or have some other bizarre connection to doing exactly what these warning labels tell you to not, it seems crazy for companies to try to protect themselves from such extreme and improbable liability associated with their products. They certainly aren’t intentionally insulting our smarts, or else they wouldn’t be making any money.

But the potential for one crazy person who decided to sue a stroller company because they didn’t remove their child before folding down the stroller is sure likely when a legal system is accountable for assisting an entire nation with their frivolous lawsuit needs.

Absurd warning labels are just one opportunity companies have to utilize in their efforts to protect themselves from these cases. But just too frequently, people look at these labels as lack of company common sense.

However, it is just the opposite.

Why are these labels so significant? Lawsuit-happy America has driven companies to feel like they need to put these wacky labels on every product that is manufactured.

Sometimes, a great product is threatened to be release based on the potential of a lawsuit occurring. This is a direct cause of consumer stupidity. If a person feels that they are entitled to a lawsuit, they will sue.

If that’s not bad enough, companies need to constantly extend their warnings because people do not even take the moment to look at them. This creates a cyclical pattern: long label is skipped by lazy consumer, consumer hurts themselves, company creates longer label, lazy consumer again skips, etc.

The Center for America hosts a contest exclusive to highlighting these crazy warning labels. It’s a fun contest that makes light of the absurdity that surrounds these labels that have become a strange reality in the United States. After all, not all countries are subjected to this entertainment. You are free to submit the strangest warning labels you have seen for the 2012 contest, but if you do, make sure you can compete with these ridiculous entries from past years:

A stroller reads, “Do not put child in basket.” It’s probably best to put your baby inside the stroller seat rather than in the storage compartment under it.

“Harmful if swallowed.” If you ever decide to swallow a brass fishing lure with a pronged hook, thinking you will be perfectly fine. This little warning prevents you from having grounds to sue.

If you’re going to operate a small tractor, watch out for death! The warning “Danger: Avoid Death” is located on this product. Sounds dangerous.

If you think these labels are foolish, your opinions might change after taking a look at the actual winners circle:

On a speakerphone, intended specifically to be used while driving, a warning read, “Never operate your speakerphone while driving.” This wacky warning label awarded the individual who submitted the cautionary notice with $1,000.

The second prize-winning label was stuck to a go-cart. It read, “This product moves when used.”…I would hope so, since that is usually what I am looking for in a motorized scooter.

The warning, “Use of a headset that covers both ears will impair your ability to hear other sounds” followed in third place on a headset. This one is pretty self-explanatory.

But being able to spot the wackiest label doesn’t just have monetary benefits. The implications are significant. It means keeping your stomach ink free. It means avoiding burns from that dangerous, but cuddly, hair dryer. And most importantly, based on my experiences, it means keeping your eyes tear- free from that hot can of bear mace.

So go ahead –– try to find the wackiest warning label out there. You are in good company. Who knows? You may just win some money, but at the very least, don’t be the person who causes those crazy warnings to be released.

Lydia Jorden is a junior business major. Her column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:17 pm

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