Moral Responsibility to Monitor Products Post Sale: Boating Industry

Recalls from USCG Boating Safety Circular 87

Recalls from USCG Boating Safety Circular 87

Manufacturers are morally responsible for monitoring post sale accidents of their products and warning customers of those risks when they become significant.

Some manufacturers claim their monitoring costs (dollars and manpower) would exceed any possible benefits received by monitoring, and others claim it is to costly or impossible to identify or communicate with users of their products.

While those are legitimate concerns, some level of monitoring is typically still possible, and some means of notification is usually available as well (Press releases, company web site, trade shows, trade publications, distributors, etc.). Most would find it more unreasonable that a boating industry manufacturer was unable to take advantage of one or more of the monitoring opportunities listed on our Tools to Monitor Boating Products Post Sale page.

This post is part of a series of posts. Links to the other posts can be found in the Introduction.

When our parked car is minorly damaged by a hit and run driver, we feel wronged. We feel they are scum for not leaving their contact information. They wronged us. While there are legal requirements in that situation, we tend to dwell on the moral ones. They took no personal responsibility for their actions. We are forced to bear the consequences of their actions (hassle and cost of repairing our vehicle).

The Golden Rule, Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You, applies to the parked car situation. We would have them find us, or leave a note, and hope that we would do the same (We have done that on more than one occasion).

The same goes for a boat manufacturer, marine drive manufacturer, or boating accessory manufacturer. They are in much better position than us (customers) to monitor the safety of their products in the field. They should be monitoring their performance and notify us (customers) of significant risks or hazards discovered after the product left the factory.

Textbooks even explain this moral duty:

Responsible Marketing: Concepts, Theories, Models, Strategies and Cases. Oswald A. J. Mascarenhas. 2007. Page 297. Table 10.2 Moral Appropriational over Legal Attributional Responsibilities For Executive Choice-Effects. One row in the table talks about the Doctrine of Liability (Post-Sale Duty to Warn), Legal attributional responsibilities (Exercise post-sale duty to warn all customers when significant harm may be involved), and Moral appropriational responsibilities (Exercise post-sale duty to warn all potential and actual customers for all harm known by hindsight, foresight and customer feedback).

Legal Firms even chime in on moral responsibility:

Coben & Associates, an Arizona law firm now part of Anapol Schwartz, wrote “Certainly, a manufacturer who learns of post sale dangers has a moral obligation to rectify the problem.” in Should a Product Manufacturer be Held Liable for Failing to Recall a Product Learned to be Defective.

Post sale monitoring of product safety is sometimes called post market surveillance vigilance or monitoring post-sale product performance.

Conclusions About Moral Responsibility to Monitor Products Post Sale

I hope we can all agree:

  • Boating industry manufacturers have a moral obligation to monitor the post sale performance of their products for significant safety issues and protect their customers by warning then, recalling the products, or taking other appropriate actions.

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