I was under the impression that product recalls were a rare thing. Turns out this isn't the case — all you have to do is peruse the ACCC Recalls Australia iPhone app, launched recently by everyone's favourite consumer watchdog, to see there's quite a number of recalls in the wild.
What's the purpose of the app, other than showing your friends the awesome washing machine they just bought is totally defective? ACCC deputy chairman Peter Kell explains:
For consumers, this means that when you’re out and about doing your shopping, you can quickly and easily check for recalled products on your phone. For example, you could be at a garage sale, where a recalled product might have unwittingly been made available for purchase.
According to the ACCC's press release, the app was officially launched via YouTube. Sadly, I don't think it was overly successful, considering the video has accumulated just 71 views as I write this, most of which are probably from journos. Still, engaging your audience on multiple fronts is hardly a bad thing.
I usually crack out my phone to double-check prices when I'm out and about, so I guess there's no harm in making sure what I'm buying isn't a piece of junk. Though I imagine that's why many of us read reviews before departing on a shopping trip in the first place.
There's actually a surprising number of recalls in the system — over 400 when I loaded the app this morning. The database is pulled from the Recalls Australia website, and explains the initial long load time, despite the app being a paltry 1.2MB in size, well under Apple's 20MB limit for 3G.
If you're in the mood, you can even lodge a complaint via the app, though all this does is prompt you to send an email using the Mail app. Not exactly state of the art, but I'm sure it's already on the to-do list of things to improve.
ACCC Recalls Australia is a free download from the App Store.