Mistakes happen. Nobody disputes that. But the hallmark of professionalism and integrity includes large helpings of “how we fix what we did.”
IN early January, parents were shocked to read about findings by Consumer Reports that 10 of 12 infant car seats had failed — most “disastrously” — in simulated 38 miles per hour side-impact crash tests. Many parents were infuriated. These seats can be expensive, and parents rely on them to protect their most precious cargo.
Consumer Reports, which accepts neither advertising nor industry or government financing, is read by consumers with reverence. Manufacturers and retailers track its conclusions knowing they can affect sales. But this time, the magazine committed a whopper of a mistake that jeopardizes its well-earned credibility. Within two weeks after publishing its results, it rightly announced it was withdrawing its report because of problems with the tests. Because of what is widely assumed to be an engineering miscalculation, the tests were conducted to replicate a 70 m.p.h. car crash — nearly double what the magazine had claimed.
How the testing mistake was made is instructive not only for Consumer Reports but for everyone who cares about public safety.