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Jeffrey Shaffer Headshot

My Anti-Skid Consumer Slip-Up

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I'm an irresponsible consumer. The evidence is undeniable. I recently bought a common household product and failed to register the item, so if something goes wrong I probably won't get a refund or replacement.

I'm not talking about a toaster or other complex mechanical device. The item in question is a shower mat. Yes, I'm talking about a flexible rectangle with suction cups on the bottom, and it came with a little sheet of instructions that proclaimed "Do Not Return This Product To Place of Purchase!" so I can't blame the manufacturer for lack of transparency. The paper listed the name of a website where I could register online along with an 800 number for customer service, so there were multiple options for dealing with potential product malfunction or other problems.

Maybe it was my ego telling me I don't have to follow anyone's unsolicited advice, or maybe I'm just lazy, but I chose to ignore the follow-up consumer options.

So now I'm stuck with an unregistered shower mat, and it's not a good feeling. Some people might say, "So what? The company just wants you to visit the website so they can collect personal data for their online marketing schemes." That explanation seems plausible, but I keep coming back to the warning "Do Not Return...To Place of Purchase!" The implication is clear: something may happen that causes the shower mat to operate improperly. Why else would they bring up the notion of returning it?

I did not, in fact, disregard all the information provided by the manufacturer. There were instructions for "Use and Care" along with "After Use" and "Cleaning." Preparing the mat for installation and making sure it's securely positioned is a six-step process and I carefully followed all of them.

In contrast, the toilet scrubbing brush I bought last month didn't come with any paperwork at all. I just tore off the plastic wrapping and put it into service without missing a flush. It appears that when I wasn't paying attention, advancements in shower mat technology during the past few years raced head of other bathroom products, thus creating the necessity for detailed instructions and registration procedures

I should be reassured by the fact that I haven't read any news stories about people being killed or injured by defective shower mats that gave off toxic fumes or burst into flame without warning. But just because something hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it never will, and I don't want my obituary to be listed in some scientific report as "the first known victim."

Why didn't I make one simple call when I had the chance? It's too late now. The mat is no longer new and if I tried to lie on the phone the company would ask where I made the purchase and what time of day it occurred, and their massive data files would shred my credibility instantly.

All I can do is accept my foolish disregard of a product registration opportunity and live with the consequences. The shower mat is performing well so far, but I'm a tiny bit nervous whenever I set foot onto its soft, rubbery surface. It's the uneasiness that comes from stepping toward the point of no return.