June 9, 2009

Is this morally wrong?

IMAGINE FOR ONE MOMENT that you have a factory making handheld marine VHF radios. Imagine, too, that your bean counters have figured out that it’s more profitable for you to repair or replace a radio (if someone complains it’s not waterproof) than it is to make your radios waterproof in the first place.

Here’s the question: Is it morally wrong to warrant a radio as waterproof when you know it’s not? Bearing in mind, of course, that the consumer is not going to be out of pocket if water does get into the radio.

When the consumer magazine Practical Sailor tested seven brands of handheld VHF radios marketed as waterproof, or warranted against water damage, only one turned out to be truly waterproof. Just one!

Now I have a tendency, probably quite ridiculous, to regard a handheld VHF as a safety item of last resort. When I really need it, I’ll be boarding the dinghy or the liferaft. The waves will be breaking over everything. It will probably be pouring with rain and I’ll probably drop the radio in puddles a few times.

So I’d rather have a truly waterproof radio than one that might fail if I accidentally spilled my beer on it, even if they promised to refund my money — presuming that, lacking any means to call for help, I survive to collect it.

For the record, I think it’s morally wrong and I hope someone, sometime, sues them blind. If they won’t react to moral persuasion, perhaps a large and very painful loss of money will do the trick.

Today’s Thought
I am afraid we must make the world honest before we can honestly say to our children that honesty is the best policy.
—George Bernard Shaw

“I see old Fred’s been made secretary of the chess club.”
“That’s nice. What does he have to do?”
“His main job is to read the hours of the previous meeting.”

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