Bizarre recalls - including the B&Q paint that smells of cat pee

B&Q compensates for paint that smells of cat pee

B&Q has announced it will compensate people who bought Valspar paint from the chain, and discovered that it makes their home smell of cat urine and rotten animals. Those who have not yet used the paint are advised not to do so, while those with pongy homes will have the cost of redecoration covered by B&Q and Valspar - which includes a coat of sealant that should mask the smell while it fades. It's one of the strangest recalls of recent times - but it's not the only oddity.

SEE ALSO: Fears over 'exploding' patio tables from Argos and Asda

See also: Could your washing machine or fridge be a fire risk?


B&Q said the smell has come from removing an additive in the paint that had prevented bacteria from growing. Without the additive, the bacteria grew in the can and released hydrogen sulphide gas and ammonia - a combination of rotten eggs and urine. Those who used the paint often had no idea where the smell was coming from, and deep cleaned the room and the carpets before thinking to sniff the walls.

Bizarre recalls

It's not the first time a company has had to come clean about a bizarre and unexpected feature of their product.

Nazi boots
Earlier this year a US boot company was forced to recall its military-style boots, after wearers noticed the tread left a series of mini swastika imprints on the ground. One posted his complaint to Reddit, which went viral and may have encouraged the recall.

Reddit user discovers swastikas on boots

Nazi colouring book
A few months later, a colouring book in Holland was withdrawn, when a painting-by-numbers activity revealed a picture of Hitler giving a Nazi salute. It was only on sale for half a day before the store noticed and issued an immediate recall. The publisher said it was a complete accident. The person creating the images was doing so using images of famous people, and is thought not to have recognised who was in this particular picture.

Golf balls in hash browns
In the US in April, McCain Foods USA recalled bags of Roundy's and Harris Teeter hash browns, just in case they were contaminated with "extraneous golf ball materials." It's thought that golf balls were harvested with the potatoes, and not spotted in the production process.

Anti-drug tool that promotes drugs
A US anti-drug education project in 1998 backfired, after pencils were issued with the slogan 'Too Cool to do Drugs'. It was only after students started sharpening them, that they discovered that they had sharpened off the words 'Too Cool to', leaving them with the slogan "do Drugs". The pencils were recalled, and replacements issues with the slogan printed the other way around. You can now buy reproductions of the original pencils.

too cool to do drugs

Gun holster that shoots the owner
In America in 2005, gun holsters were recalled after it emerged they had an unfortunate extra feature - they caused people to shoot themselves. Apparently, when you removed the gun from the holster, part of the design meant the safety would be accidentally released. When the gun was placed back into the holster, it then risked firing, and shooting the owner in the leg.


Car that attracts spiders
In 2014, Mazda announced a recall of 42,000 Mazda 6 models built between 2010-2012. Car recalls are worryingly common but this one was a bit out of the ordinary. Apparently the hydrocarbons in the vent lines were attractive to the Yellow Sac spiders, which built webs in the fuel tanks, and caused pressure to build up. The company was worried the pressure could cause cracks or fires, so recalled the cars and installed a cover on the fuel line to keep the spiders out.

Law-breaking art
This recall took place before any of the products were actually issued. Banksy had offered a free print for anyone who voted against the Conservatives in the Bristol area in the UK General Election. Unfortunately, local police launched an investigation and the Electoral Commission warned that anyone who took up the offer could be breaking the law. Banksy issued a statement on his website saying: "I have been warned by the Electoral Commission that the free print offer will invalidate the election result. So I regret to announce this ill-conceived and legally dubious promotion has now been cancelled."

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10 consumer rights you should know
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10 consumer rights you should know

The law states that any goods you buy from a UK retailer should be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable amount of time.

This applies even if you buy items in a sale or with a discount voucher. You may have to insist on these rights being respected, though.

Useful phrases to use when you want to show you mean business include, "according to the Sale of Goods Act 1979" and, if it's a service, "according to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982".

Some shops will allow you to exchange goods without a receipt, but they can refuse to should they wish.

If the goods are faulty, however, another proof of purchase such as a bank statement should work just as well.

If you attempt to return goods within four weeks of the purchase, your chances of getting a full refund are much higher as you can argue that you have not "accepted" them.

After this point, you can only really expect an exchange, repair or part-refund.

The updated Consumer Credit Act states that card companies are jointly and severally liable for credit card purchases of between £100 and £60,260 (whether or not you paid just a deposit or the whole amount on your card).

Anyone spending between these amounts on their credit card is therefore protected if the retailer or service provider goes bust, their online shopping never arrives or the items in question are faulty or not as described.

Start by writing to the agency asking it to either remove or change the entry that you think is wrong. It will investigate the matter and find out whether you have been the victim of ID theft or a bank's mistake.

Within 28 days from receipt of your letter the agency should tell you how the bank has responded. If the bank agrees to change the entry, they will authorise the agency to update their records. They should also send updates to any other credit reference agencies they use.

You can also contact your lender directly to query a mistake. If the lender agrees to the discrepancy, ask them to confirm this in writing on their letterhead and send a copy to the agency, asking them to update your file.

The FOS settles disputes between financial companies such as banks and consumers.

If a financial organisation rejects a complaint you make about its services, you can therefore escalate that complaint to the FOS - as long as you have given the company in question at least eight weeks to respond.

The FOS will then investigate the case, and could force the company to offer you compensation should it see fit.

Bailiffs are allowed to take some of your belongings to sell on to cover certain debts, including unpaid Council Tax and parking fines.

They can, for example, take so-called luxury items such as TVs or games consoles. However, they cannot take essentials such as fridges or clothes.

What's more, they can only generally enter your home to take your stuff if you leave a door or window open or invite them in.

You are therefore within your rights to refuse them access and to ask for related documents such as proof of their identity. If they try to force their way in, you can also call the police to stop them.

Private sector debt collectors do not have the same powers as bailiffs, whatever they tell you.

They cannot, for example, enter your home and take your possessions in lieu of payment.

In fact, they can only write, phone, or visit your home to talk to you about paying back the debt. As with bailiffs, you can also call the police if you feel physically threatened.

Thanks to the Distance Selling Regulations, you actually have more rights buying online or by phone than on the High Street.

You can, for example, send most goods back within a week, for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault.

You will usually need to pay for the return delivery, though. The seller must then refund you within 30 days.

We enter into contracts all the time, whether it be to join a gym, switch energy supplier or take out a loan.

In most cases, once you've signed a contract, you are legally bound by it. In some situations, however, you have the right to cancel it within a certain timeframe.

Credit agreements, for example, can be cancelled within 14 days. And online retailers must tell you about your cancellation rights for any contract made up to stand up legally.

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