UK online retail giant ASOS was forced to voluntarily recall its leather studded belts worldwide, not because they were a fashion eyesore, but because it was found that over 500 hours of wear could cause injury of the radioactive kind.
How could this even happen? Well, it all allegedly started in a factory in India, where scrap metal sometimes (accidentally) contains radioactive sources. During the refining process, these metals are mixed together and melted down at the same time. Distressingly, this is apparently not uncommon.
So when should a supplier recall goods other than due to good taste? The Australian Consumer Law requires goods to be recalled if they:
- may cause injury (even if misused in a reasonably foreseeable way);
- do not comply with a government imposed safety standard; or
- are subject to an interim or permanent ban.
Hefty statutory penalties apply for non-compliance.
ASOS is also reportedly suing the supplier for £100,000 in damages (even though the actual value of the goods was £6,500) and the Indian factory has been shut down. In Australia, consumers can also directly sue a supplier (including the importer) for any loss or damage they incur from a defective good. This is enough to make any supplier nauseous.