Free-Range Kids

Apparel Menace

Faulty zipper recall


In March, the Consumer Product Safety Commission put out a daily update alerting the public that 140,000 children's hooded sweatshirts were being recalled by Kroger. The reason for the recall? "The sweatshirt zipper pull can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children."

Buyers were urged to "immediately take the sweatshirt away from young children" and return it to the store, where the full purchase price (between $8 and $10) would be refunded. Scrolling down through the report reveals that the company decided to pull the sweatshirts after learning of just one instance of a zipper pull detaching. "No injuries have been reported," the bulletin explained.

To recap: A solitary case of a single zipper pull coming off a kid's sweatshirt prompted a company to agree to return as much as $1.4 million to consumers, even though nobody has been harmed by the defect. Apparently, no price is too high if it saves a child from the looming menace of a 1-in-140,000 chance of encountering a faulty zipper.