Consumer protection goes awry
It is a story akin to the kettle calling the pot black.
Consumers Union and its Consumer Reports magazine, the bible of wary shoppers, had an egg-on-face experience recently when the publication gave 15,000 new subscribers gifts of glovebox organizers. Unfortunately, each contained a tire pressure gauge that might be inaccurate and a flashlight that could overheat and start a fire.
A Reuters report said the magazine received eight complaints in late April. Two subscribers reported minor burns from the flashlight, while others said the flashlight case had melted and a couple others said the tire gauge was defective.
Consumers Union-often critical of auto makers for producing shoddy or unsafe vehicles-recalled the glovebox kits and said it has urged the importer from which they were purchased to do the same. But the organization's officials weren't quite ready to laugh about the embarrassment.
Executive Vice President Joel Gurin somberly noted: ``We're treating it as a serious incident. We're focusing on making this a model for how companies ought to recall products.''
Glad to hear they're making lemonade from those lemons.
This 'n that
Rock on-A Hollywood, Fla., woman won $20,000 from Maroone Toyota during a radio station promotion by rocking in a chair in the Davie, Fla., car dealership for 76 hours.
Cathy Jacobs, given the option of cash or a new vehicle worth $25,000, took the money and ran, the Sun-Sentinel newspaper reported. Competitors in the ``Rock Around the Clock'' promo had to rock in the chair for three hours before getting a 15-minute break. The only time Ms. Jacobs was off her rocker was when she spent her breaks ``power napping.''
A recent piece on National Public Radio's ``Morning Edition'' news program featured a look at the many kiddie TV shows that flourished in the '50s and '60s in local markets. Seemed like every town had TV station personalities who masqueraded as sea captains, superheroes or various other cartoonish characters.
NPR news anchor/host Bob Edwards pulled off the quote du jour of the morning. Observing that back then many stations let their news anchors play clowns on those kids shows, he quipped: ``Today, they hire clowns to be news anchors.''
A lesson learned-The April-May issue of the Louisiana Tire Dealers Association's Bayou State Tire Dealers News pointed out something many a man's wife or significant other has probably realized for a long time.
As the old saying goes: ``Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.'' But if you teach a man to fish, the newsletter stated, ``he will go out and buy expensive fishing equipment, stupid-looking clothes, a sport-utility vehicle, travel 1,000 miles to the `hottest' fishing spot and stand waist deep in cold water just so he can outsmart a fish. (Average cost per fish: $395.68.)''
He's not a pusillanimous pugilist-There are lots of heavy hitters in the tire industry. Big O Tires Inc. can claim a real heavyweight among its family of employees.
Shalifa Williamson, an assistant in the company's legal department, is the wife of pro heavyweight boxer DaVarryl ``Touch of Sleep'' Williamson. Since turning pro in 2000, he's had 15 professional fights to the tune of a 14-1 record-with 13 knockouts. Recently, several employees from Big O's headquarters in Englewood, Colo., took in a bout in Denver. They were expecting a 10-rounder but Touch of Sleep stopped a bigger dude only 1:46 into the first round.
About that moniker: Mr. Williamson apparently has a knack for rendering his opponents unconscious.
They said it-Humorist Will Rogers had it right when he said: ``Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.'' And a gent named Stanley Marcus offered a sage way to view those who patronize your establishments: ``Consumers are statistics. Customers are people.''
For those of you preparing to see the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet or other set of wheels this summer, please note that the famous ``Cadillac Ranch'' is receiving some long-overdue bodywork.
The bizarre roadside landmarks, created in 1974, feature 10 ravaged and graffiti-covered Caddies buried nose down in an Amarillo, Texas, wheat field off famed Route 66.
A program called Explore the Highway with Hampton Save-A-Landmark has adopted Route 66 as a national cause, according to the Web site www.newstream.com. Consequently, a group of Hampton Hotel volunteers-working alongside the collective group of original Cadillac Ranch artists known as ``Ant Farm''-are restoring some of the highway's most impressive and unusual landmarks, including the classic Cads, described as the ``hood ornament of Route 66'' by Doug Michaels, co-founder of Ant Farm.
They've been re-tiring, scrubbing, priming and re-painting the cars that, over the years, have become a de facto canvas for vandals.
For three years Hampton Hotels-owned by Hilton Hospitality Inc.-has donated labor and nearly a half-million bucks toward refurbishing historic and unusual tourist landmarks across the U.S., such as the 42-foot-tall statue of Uncle Sam in Ottowa Lake, Mich.
Cadillac Ranch is the 11th landmark to be restored. With new tires, those babies should be good for at least another 100,000 smiles.