Sunday, June 10, 2007

Useless Warning Label?

I remember reading once about a web site which displays useless warning labels. I might have found one yesterday while on a business trip to the Gaylord Texan resort in Grapevine, Texas.

In the Gaylord's hotel rooms there is a safe, much like in other hotel rooms. It's not very big, but you can put a notebook computer in it along with other, smaller, items. The nicest feature of this safe is the electrical outlet you can use to charge your computer (or whatever) while it's safely locked up.

While I was packing my stuff to leave, I noticed the warning label on the inside of the safe's door:

It's a little hard to read, but among the other warnings printed on it was, "SUFFOCATION DANGER EXISTS." Here's why I think this might be a useless warning:
You can see from this picture, the safe is not all that big. It's about 24 inches wide by about 6 inches high and about 12 inches deep. There's no way to fit a person in this thing, no matter how small they are.

I suppose, though, there are some folks out there foolish enough to try to stuff a very small cat or a dog in the thing, perhaps allowing the pet to suffocate while their owner was out of the room.

I can imagine a little old lady, sneaking her cat into the hotel in her over sized purse. She is sneaky, alright, but what happens when she has to leave the room for a time? "I can't just put the 'Do Not Disturb' sign up, someone might come in anyway," she thinks to herself. "Aha!" she says to herself, "I'll put Muffy in the safe. That way if someone comes in they won't find her, and the walls are thick enough to muffle any noise she might make. I'll just let her out when I get back."

Tragedy strikes, though, when she returns and finds Muffy dead from lack of oxygen in the safe. Because there was no warning label on the door, the lady sues the hotel and the safe company. Despite the fact she wasn't supposed to have pets in the room and it should be obvious not to put a creature which requires oxygen to stay alive in a box with no air holes, the court awards her $1 million in damages for her pain and suffering.

Maybe it's not such a useless warning after all.

I didn't see a warning, though, to alert the user of an electric shock hazard from the outlet inside the safe. Using the scenario above, instead of suffocating perhaps the poor cat might electrocute itself trying to claw it's way out of the safe. The electrical short could trip the breakers in the hotel and set off alarms all over the place. Then who would get damages: The lady who shouldn't have had her cat in the room in the first place or the Hotel and all the other guests staying there that day?

Sometimes it's just hilarious to see what hoops companies must jump though in order to avoid being successfully sued by people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

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