Stupid Product Warnings "Do Not Eat This Motorcycle!"
The creativity of product-warning writers apparently knows no bounds. SPIEGEL ONLINE asked its readers to send in their favorites. We've posted the best here.
A few weeks ago, SPIEGEL ONLINE published a list of absurd product warnings and asked its readers to send in their own personal favorites. Over 100 readers responded. And following the unscientific survey, one thing seems to be clear: Nobody can beat the Americans when it comes to ridiculous warning labels on manufactured goods. Although most of the warnings were sent in by Germans, half of them were found on American products.
For example, during a trip to the Grand Canyon, SPIEGEL ONLINE reader Dieter Noga warned by a sign on a hotel toilet, "Don't drink the water!" Another reader, Leif Boettcher, wrote in about a hairdryer he had purchased in the US. Two warnings caught his attention. The first: "Don't use while sleeping." And: "Don't use at an intensive care station when oxygen is in use."
It seems that decades of laughable -- and expensive -- lawsuits initiated against manufacturers have made US companies careful. The warning labels can be seen as a type of insurance to protect corporations from the limitless -- and occasionally dangerous -- imaginations of their customers.
The lesson? It is better to make oneself ridiculous than to face millions of dollars in damage payments due to customers poisoning, burning, mangling or otherwise injuring themselves. Perhaps they will eventually come up with a general warning for all eventualities: "Beware! Life is Dangerous!"
But it would be a bit disingenuous just to sit back and make fun of the United States -- Germany has also discovered the joys of idiotic warning labels. Reader Kai Sartorius, for example, found the following in the operating instructions for his new stove: "Do not use stove burners as a space heater!" And also, "Turn off the oven before cleaning it!" Frank Lehmann-Diebold even found a warning label on an Amaryllis he bought for Christmas: "For decoration only! Do not eat!"