Monday 13 December 2004

Now I feel safer.

We got a new fridge the other day. It's my first ever brand new fridge: my last one came with the flat when I bought it. Anyway, the fridge has safety instructions, as you might expect, and I had a look through them for an entirely sensible reason: I wanted to check whether there was a minimum distance to be kept between the cooling things on the back of the machine and the wall. Apparently not. To discover that, I didn't half have to wade through some bollocks.

Now, everyone knows that fear of litigation and the technical stupidity of (a) corporate lawyers and (b) everyone else is turning these safety instructions a bit stupid. But this latest booklet has finally stepped over the boundary into out-and-out lunacy. As well as the warning not to put too much food in the fridge, as it could fall out when I open the door and disastrously injure me (thanks for that, Daewoo), there was this:

Do not spray water inside or outside the fridge/freezer, as this could cause fire or explosion.

Let's just be clear about this. If your kids have a water-pistol fight in the kitchen, and one of them hits the fridge with a small jet of water, and the fridge then explodes and kills them all, Daewoo's lawyers will respond with "Ah, you should have read the instructions."


LBH said...

How specific is the 'outside the fridge/freezer' bit?

Are waterpistol fights anywhere in your property going to invalidate the warranty?

On a kind of related note, I once had a pictorial warning that came with my hairdryer advising me not to use it whilst still in the shower.

Squander Two said...

I had wondered about the distance thing myself. Inside or outside the fridge/freezer doesn't leave many other places. Maybe it's more of a general warning about a hitherto-unknown property of water.

What really gets me is what must have led to this. Yeah, it's easy to say that lawyers are just stupid (which is why I did), but they do actually come up with these instructions in response to real events. I'm sure someone electrocuted themselves in the shower and tried to sue the manufacturer of your hairdryer. And Sainsbury's put up "Beware of grapes!" signs until the court threw out that stupid old woman's lawsuit a few years ago. So what on Earth happened that prompted Daewoo's lawyers to insert these warnings?

LBH said...

"Beware of grapes"? Must have missed that one...

In what way can grapes be threatening? The mind boggles.

As for the nuts I especially like that message when its placed on things like coffee and walnut cake wrappers.

Squander Two said...

An old woman slipped on a grape and sued Sainsbury's. 1995, I think it was. She claimed that they had a duty to keep the aisles clear and safe at all times. Their defense was that they were already meeting that duty to an entirely reasonable extent by cleaning the floors every half-hour and that individual customers should look where they're going. The judge chucked it out, but they put the signs up while they were waiting for the judgment.

Some of the things that may contain nuts are quite surprising, I have to say.

David said...


LBH said...

One final one - the pack of prawns we opened to make Thai-style prawn and sweetcorn soup (very tasty) was labelled

Allergy warning: contains shellfish

As you say, its scary to think that people need this kind of instruction

Squander Two said...

This sort of thing is sometimes down to legislation. For instance, Brussels passed a regulation saying that all agricultural equipment must come with instructions for use. Doesn't seem like a particularly stupid law, but Wellington boots are classified as agricultural equipment, so now come with a little instruction leaflet.