Charlie Weston: Product recalls should be publicised in web database open to all
MY wife Emer was downstairs when she heard the piercing crash. She got a fright. When she got upstairs she discovered that the Velux window in the roof of the bathroom had shattered into small pieces.
There was glass everywhere and a hole in the window pane. This roof window is directly above the bath tub – if one of our children had been in the bath the consequences could have been serious.
Once the poor wife had calmed down the next thing was to find a glazier. A quick internet search threw up a site called Trusted Trades – a one-stop shop which gets you a tradesperson that it promises will be reputable and insured.
The man who answered the phone, Ray Smith, listened to our tale of the shattered window.
Yes, he could send someone to fix it. But then he remembered that this was the third call he had recently about a shattered Velux roof window.
He informed me that there was product recall on certain sizes of these Velux windows that had been manufactured at a certain time.
He was talking himself out of business, but his honesty was refreshing.
A search on the Velux.ie website eventually produced a section headed: "Product warning: risk of spontaneous glass breakage."
It explained the company had become aware of spontaneous glass breakage in window panes produced and sold between 1997 and 2003. "Under specific conditions, generally experienced in the winter, there is a minor risk that the inner glass may break spontaneously, with the possibility of glass fragments falling," it said.
A call to the Dublin number provided got us through to Velux in Fife, Scotland, where the miffed person answering informed me that it was lunchtime.
Words were exchanged. Velux would replace the window, but it could be a day or two.
Not good enough, I replied. Eventually, we settled on me getting a glazier through Trusted Trades to render the window safe, at a cost of €60 to be paid by Velux. Just to jolly Velux along we posted a picture of the broken window on Twitter.
Velux eventually replaced the dodgy window panes at no cost.
I had not seen a product recall for the roof windows. And I would be alert to that sort of message.
The moral of the tale is that firms that discover a product is faulty need to do more to publicise a recall.