Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Way

A poll published Thursday in Britain ranked the most popular songs played at funeral services.

Any guess what No. 1 was?

Yep: “My Way,” by Frank Sinatra.

In one sense, this is no surprise. We all like to do things our way. That’s why we hate reading (not to mention following) instructions: we’d much rather wing it. But this often leads to mistakes, not to mention frustration.

A few years ago, for instance, Subaru of America began to notice a rise in consumer complaints about the quality of its cars. When company executives looked into the situation, though, they found that the problem wasn’t with the cars; it was with the owners. They didn’t understand how the car worked…because they hadn’t read the manual! In fact, 1 out of 5 calls to Subaru’s call center involved a question answered in the owner’s manual.

The Subaru example isn’t unusual. Despite decades of public service advertisements stressing the importance of car seats (they can cut the risk of a child’s death from an auto accident by 71%), most car seats are still installed incorrectly. One recent federal study pegged the rate of “critical misuse” at 73% -- or nearly three out of every four.

Why would parents habitually make such a mistake?

“They can’t follow all the instructions,” says Larry Decina, the lead investigator on the car seat study. “Go to your car’s owner’s manual tonight. Look how many pages it is for car seat instructions…It’s like 17 pages. You think people are reading that? Maybe mommy looks at it. You think daddy does?”

No. He just does things his way.