One time when I was driving around, my car ran out of gas. Yes, I knew
that I was running low on fuel since my warning light had come on some time
before, but I figured that there should still be a decent reserve left – more
than likely enough to get me to my destination. Imagine my shock when my car
died in the middle of the street! I was stranded in a scary area of town, where
anything could happen to a woman alone. I resolved that as soon as I got
out of this situation, I was going to demand a recall for my particular
automobile – how dare it run out of gas! What if I had been hurt? Never mind
that thousands of other people have the exact same car as me, and so what
if they never found themselves in this situation – obviously this was a defect
with the auto!
Okay hopefully it was obvious that I made this scenario up, yet it is similar to
what happened this week to the Segway HT.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000 Segways have been sold since their
December 2001 unveiling, but all it took were three people getting hurt while
riding with their batteries too low to get all Segways recalled.
Actually, to their credit it was evidently
itself that pointed out the problem to the Consumer Product Safety
Commission. They also issued the
statement that on a low battery, a rider could fall off "if the
rider speeds up abruptly, encounters an obstacle, or continues to ride after
receiving a low-battery alert." Well, DERR!
Segway is evidently concerned enough about their HT owners that they are doing
this voluntary recall; to remedy the situation they are providing a software
upgrade. I am not sure what software upgrade Segway can do to the HT that will
fix user-error, which is truly what this situation sounds like to me. Maybe it
will be a second, louder alert that says "Hellooo! Your battery is dying,
fool – get off!" I don't know. I mean, who's fault is it if you
ignore a warning and keep using a product – hurting yourself in the process? I
guess in our litigious society it must be the product's fault, since we as
consumers have no personal accountability.
In any case, this recall doesn't change anything for me…I still would like
to own a Segway and I still have one in my wish list at Amazon. But I can also
consider myself warned that if a low-battery alert sounds it isn't just for the
heck of it.
If you are a Segway owner, you can call them toll-free at 877-889-9020
between 8 am and 8 pm Monday through Friday (ET) for information on how to
receive a free software upgrade. According to the recall announcement, "Riders
are reminded that, even after the software upgrade, appropriate operating
techniques as described in Segway HT user materials are essential to safety."