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I know the word recall is abhorrent to many product manufacturers, but it shouldn't be a word they don't know the meaning. Especially companies like Firestone, which dragged the rubber industry through the mud with its "500" fiasco, and Ford, who suckerpunched the domestic auto industry with its infamous Pinto. Didn't these companies recall what exactly happened during those times? I'm sure many of their MBAs studied those two earlier recalls as textbook examples of what not to do when a defective product is discovered.

I find it hard to believe there is nobody at Bridgestone who can't recall just how they were able to purchase Firestone. The company was severely damaged financially by their mishandling and stonewalling of the ultimate recall of 14 million tires in 1978.

It seems some at Ford can recall the Pinto disaster. They have given the American public the impression they reacted immediately upon receiving the information of a possible tire defect, even though documents show that they didn't exactly move quickly in the U.S. Ford has even taken the offensive with Bridgestone, stating they know when and where the faulty tires were manufactured.

This is getting ugly and it's going to leave scars. We already have allegations laying the blame for the tread separation problems from replacement workers during a strike to different tire specifications ordered by the auto company. The spin floated by Bridgestone about driver fault through under inflation and high speeds is all insult to those who have suffered because of this problem, especially when you consider that Ford replaced the tires for free in seven countries prior to the U.S. government getting involved. For those of you who like to bash the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, where would this recall be if they weren't investigating? The one mistake the NHTSA made was not ordering a full country recall. But, in their defense, they probably didn't figure the companies would come up with a scheme where, depending on your geographic location, you might have to wait a year to replace the tires. This has to be unprecedented in recalls. Does Bridgestone or Ford believe there is anyone willing to trust those tires for another 12 months? What about us driving next to or behind a vehicle equipped with those tires? Granted it's a very small percentage of tires involved, but any percentage is too much.

There haven't been any court cases yet, but watch out. These two companies couldn't possibly have on retainer as many lawyers needed for what's in store for them. Web sites and interest groups have sprung up to assist anyone who may be affected or wants to join in possible lawsuits.

This is another black eye for the tire industry that was made worse by decisions not to address the problem. If only there were those left who could recall the recall, we could have saved some embarrassment.
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Author:Smith, Don R.
Publication:Rubber World
Date:Aug 1, 2000
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