Owner’s Manuals: The First Few Pages Tell the Funniest Stories

Owner’s manuals tell the stories of just how stupid people can be. In the first few pages of any owner’s manual, you will find warnings of ways to NOT use the product you’ve bought.

I am an insurance claims adjuster. I have handled hundreds of Product Liability insurance claims and lawsuits over the years. In many cases, someone will buy a product and then misuse it. Then, they file suit against the manufacturer, alleging that the manufacturer is somehow at fault for their stupidity.

Don’t misunderstand me here. Sometimes products are built shoddily or designed wrong. But I’m talking about human stupidity here, not corporate liability for a bad product.

As a general rule, if you see a warning in the first few page of an owner’s manual, you can be sure that the manufacturer has been sued by a customer when the customer misused the product. A little imagination can illustrate how stupid some folks can be.

Let’s look at a few warnings from a few owner’s manuals I have at home.

1. From a gun manual.
a. “Wear approved ear protection when firing the unit.” Someone sued the gunmaker because the gun made a loud noise when they pulled the trigger. That noise must have come as a big surprise…never sounds loud on TV.

2. From a vacuum cleaner manual.
a. “Do not use to pick up gasoline.” Kaboom!
b. “Do not allow to be used as a toy.” Here, little Timmy. See if you can vacuum the cat.
c. “Keep hair, loose clothing, fingers and all body parts away from openings.” I understand the first three, but what other body parts would you use a vacuum on? Wait…nevermind.
d. “Keep openings free of dust, lint, hair and anything that may reduce airflow.” I always thought that dust, lint and hair was the point of having a vacuum cleaner.

3. Skil™ Power Jigsaw Manual
a. “Secure material before cutting. Never hold it in your hand or across leg.” The though of jigsawing my thigh caused my anus to pucker.

4. Cordless 12-volt Tire Inflator
a. “CAUTION: This unit is not intended for recharging a car battery.” Here, Ethyl. I’ll just hook the hose to this here car battery. Now, where is the nozzle on this battery?

Stihl™ Chain Saw
a. “Do not operate a chainsaw in a tree unless you have been specifically trained to do so.” The things that could go wrong in this scenario boggle the mind.
b. “Avoid scarfs, neckties, jewelry or unconfined long hair when operating a chain saw.” Here…that scarf will stay tight just fine. Hand me that chainsaw. No, my pony tail will stay behind me just fine too.

Electric Massage Pillow with Heat
a. “Do not use this device when you are submerged in a bathtub.” Sounds like someone got more than just heat when they tried using this pillow in the tub. I wonder if the person or his heirs sued the manufacturer.

This article should provide you with continuous laughs as you buy new products, and read the owner’s manuals. Let your imagination run wild as you read the warnings. I promise you that there’s a lawsuit behind each one.


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