Transparency in Product Design


It’s the Christmas season again, and the expectation to get something great for the folks back home is set high above my frame. I decide to get my parents a kayak, the inflatable kind that fits inside the car. They’ve always talked about getting one, but never have because they had worries about transporting one from our home to X destination. So I was pretty happy when I made the purchase. It was a big one, that’s for sure. 

When it was delivered to me earlier to week, I found a warning label on the box that says “This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, or birth defects or other reproductive harm.” Now, I know that Prop 65 demands that this warning label is placed on many products that may not even have any dangerous chemicals in them, but I wanted to check with the company anyway to see what was up with the label. 


I decided to call the Sea Eagle customer support number yesterday. “Hi, I have a question about the warning label on the Kayak I just bought”…”Ok.” I ask what parts of the product contain the chemicals mentioned on the label, and the lady on the other end replies, “I have no idea.” “Is there anyone I could talk to who might know?”…”No.” “There’s no one on your staff who might know?”…


Needless to say, this conversation was not very fruitful. I knew that I wasn’t getting anywhere, but I wanted to know if the company cared at all about customer concerns like mine. If there’s lead in the PVC material used to make the kayak, I want to know if exposure to it is going to harm the people using it. I want to know what’s in the things that I buy. I want to know when companies are going to start being open with their customers. I want some transparency, and yesterday, I didn’t find it.