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Exploding mods: the feedback thread

Discussion in 'Forum How-To's' started by rolygate, Mar 9, 2010.

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  1. rolygate

    rolygate Forum Manager Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Sep 24, 2009
    ECF Towers
    Let's please discuss the mod failure incidents and ECF's position on it, here in this thread.

    You are welcome to post any viewpoint you like, but please try to take a calm and reasoned approach. There are many different camps on this and the single common factor is that they all disagree strenuously. Let's try and give the Mods a night off for a change...

    OK you've seen my announcement post on this topic - here's the background, from my point of view.

    The main reason we had to take some sort of action on this is quite simple: legal liability. The second is a duty to members.

    Legal liability
    I've been told that one or two of these incidents might result in a very large damages case; and that if it doesn't happen this time round, one day it will. Of course, I'm not an attorney, so I just listen to what I'm told. There is a possibility that due to some combination of circumstances, ECF might be seen as jointly liable by somebody somewhere.

    This may be something of a leap, but unless two or three attorneys come to me and say that it is a FACT that THERE IS NO WAY that ECF can ever be held liable in any way, then we should consider the worst case scenario. That is simple prudence.

    Because, if we accept a supplier (and perhaps especially a modder) as a Registered Supplier, and if we then promote them and term them an Approved Supplier, and if we afford them additional extended facilities here such as allowing them to maintain a forum here and sell their products, and if we allow them to advertise those products widely here, and if we are seen to fully approve those products - then just possibly there might be seen to be some sort of commercial connection between the two of us.

    If you are an attorney and can state with absolute certainty that ECF can never be seen as a commercial partner with that modder or supplier, that's good. We welcome your input. If however you are not legally qualified, then let's face it - your opinion on this particular aspect of the issue is not of outstanding merit. It's always worth hearing but has no basis in fact.

    Our duty to members

    I have heard it said that ECF is a discussion forum and nothing more, and should withdraw from any form of advice giving. This is utter tosh. ECF is (a) a giant online community, (b) the largest source of ecigarette information and advice in the world, and (c) the global voice of e-smoking.

    The single largest duty we probably have is to make information and advice available to members and visitors. It's up to them whether they want to follow it or not, we simply provide the information to make an informed choice.

    What the modders say
    What the modders say is quite interesting - the only common factor is that they all disagree with each other, shall we say 'strenuously'. I'd be interested to see two modders with the same opinion on any of these various issues - that would actually be some sort of progress.

    The fact is that we don't know for sure what causes these fires and explosions - but every modder tells a different story. That should point out to you the real problem: they can't agree, they can't work together and they can't decide what is right or wrong.

    This why we have been drawn into it.

    What causes fires or explosions
    You want to know what the cause is or the causes are? So would I. But if I asked three modders, I would get three different answers. Every modder's product is perfect, and better than the opposition's, and has no faults.

    For sure. :)

    Here's an example: one repected modder says that atomizers normally fail to open circuit, and therefore are unlikely to be the cause of incidents. Another says atties sometimes fail to a short-circuit in his experience. Another says that over-volting an atomizer by 75% is a bad idea (but they are over-volted by over 100% in some situations). So the modders don't agree on this issue - which is just one of many.

    Are mods dangerous?
    Yes and no. If built correctly and used correctly, no. But there are some big areas for user error: storing one with no kill switch in your purse or pocket; fitting unprotected batteries; using a poor-quality charger maybe. And if you combine this with a mod that wasn't built to a basic safety standard, then you are potentially in the danger area.

    Is it OK to rely on safe user practice?
    Well, now we are definitely into big debate territory. A gun is safe but as soon as you give it to a user, it's not, because of the massive potential for misuse.

    With a mod, you can shout all you like about how they should be transported with the atomizer off or the batteries out, but that won't make people do it. I guess two out of three or maybe even more will occasionally put that mod in their pocket or purse with the attie on and the batts in. It's just the way it is.

    You can scream at them about how they should buy the best batteries they can get - but some won't. They'll get the cheapest deal they can, or get fooled by the advertising and buy rubbish.

    There is only one safe way to sell a product with inherent safety issues - make it as foolproof as possible, because people are fallible.

    How far you want to go down that track is up to you. As far as ECF is concerned - only just as far as will remove our liability and that satisfies our duty to inform. It's not our job to tell people what to do but if we are forced to, we have to.

    Cost of safety features
    Firstly, the cost of safety features is not an issue because without them the product is not merchantable.

    Secondly, the cost is very low in any case:

    - a kill switch: a few bucks plus time to install.
    - correctly-rated on/off switch: if the mod doesn't have this, surely it should not be sold at all?
    - vent holes: drilling a couple of 2mm holes is not costly.
    - protected batteries: mods should either be sold with proper batteries or empty. It's a few bucks more, but are you really saying that it's OK to sell the product with cheap, unprotected batteries?

    Expensive electronics
    There aren't any. They are all in the batteries, which is the whole point. Proper batteries contain an electronics package that controls various aspects of performance and service - which is why only protected batteries are used.

    Are mods with safety features completely safe?
    No, not really. It's more safe - like a car with seatbelts and airbags. Safety features can't protect you against deliberate misuse or unusual events.

    A layered safety policy is much better than nothing, though. If layer 1 fails, maybe layer 2 will save the day.

    What next?
    Contrary to popular opinion, ECF doesn't want to do anything. We certainly don't want to be in the position of either telling people what they can or can't use, or even of telling suppliers what they can or can't advertise here. We just don't want that.

    What we need to do is make sure we don't get sued, and that people can make an informed choice on what to buy. Simple as that.

    How we get to there is the question. It could simply be that we need to publish what we consider - at this moment in time - to be a reasonable safety spec; and to place warnings here and there to advise people what to look out for.

    It that's all it needs then that's exactly what we'll do. Going any further than that will be a painful and difficult move. The debate is on now, to see what people think and where they stand on this. Let's see what turns up.

  2. hifistud

    hifistud Super Member ECF Veteran

    Jul 25, 2009
    Sunderland, UK
    I would suggest that folks look at what steps laptop, mobile phone and similar device manufacturers take to safeguard their consumers from what can be a difficult technology:

    The full article is at Howstuffworks "How Lithium-ion Batteries Work"

    As e-cigs and mods are all about heat generation, and since heat is not a battery's friend, it would make sense to take all reasonable steps to ensure consumer safety. Not having a kill switch is but one issue - it seems a relatively simple step to take to help prevent "accidental pressure" on an activation switch causing atomiser heat-up and small burns - or perhaps thermal runaway. I am not a lawyer, but I dare say that one would take the view that the lack of a kill switch would be a contributory factor in a burn case, and would happily take the case on.

    One could also argue that any "modder" selling multi-cell units must take the same precautions as laptop manufacturers and so on - and that implies that a purely mechanical device might not pass safety tests. You might also argue that devices ought to be designed such that only a properly constructed multi-cell pack (not user fashionable) can power them.

    At the end of the day, I suspect that the lawyers and government safety bodies will have the final say. Somebody will be hurt and will press suit, and at that point, the brown sticky stuff will hit the fan at a great rate on knotts.

    And of course, that's exactly what we need right now.[/sarcasm]
  3. Nuck

    Nuck Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Feb 14, 2009
    Ontario, Canada
    How about a factual information based sticky listing good practices and the risks involved with a disclaimer. No liability at that point for the forum.

    There is a short list of good practices that will make mods a hell of a lot safer for the less experienced vapers and keeping those posted should help considerably.

    Don't bloat the sticky with all sorts of non-issues like HV atties, etc. If the power source is safe then it really doesn't matter what happens outside of it. Focus on the source of the problems and the rest becomes moot.
  4. Toby

    Toby Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

    Dec 10, 2008
    York UK
    Have you got a general (e-cig) battery safety page, Roly?

    If you have where is it? I need it to be very visible for everyone.

    And if not, why not?

    Here's a few basics I posted on another forum yesterday....

    NOTE: Battery Safety

    Use special caution when working with Li-ion cells, they are very sensitive to charging characteristics and may explode or burn if mishandled.

    Make sure the user has enough knowledge of Li-ion rechargeable batteries in charging, discharging and assembly before use.

    Always charge in/on a fire-proof surface.

    Never leave charging batteries unattended.

    Never continue to use an e-cigarette type device if you can feel the battery get hot. If your battery gets hot to the touch, or if it begins smelling: DO NOT USE IT ANYMORE. Let it cool down (1 hour) in a safe environment (outside preferably), and then dispose of correctly.

    If your e-cigarette or device begins activating itself, immediately remove your atomiser and disconnect the battery. Do NOT trust the battery, nor the atomiser anymore from this point on. This means never leave either of the components connected in your pocket, in your nightstand, or out of visibility where you can not immediately separate the two components.

    Read the information found at: Battery University before purchasing. It is important to carry batteries properly, charge properly, and dispose of properly.
  5. keyzygirl

    keyzygirl ECF Guru ECF Veteran

    Aug 10, 2009
    Key West,Fl.
    Couldnt you have a warning on the top of the page like""before you purchase a mod''That you do not recomend them and would not be liable for damages caused by them?There must be a lawyer that could figure out some sort of disclaimer or something.
  6. SudokuGal

    SudokuGal Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Jul 15, 2009
    I would like to add that I don't ANYONE is against the e-cig world evolving to having safety standards. ECF could go a long way in helping to promote that and make some board a legitimate authority. I'm sorry, but I am one that believes that ECF is plain and simple a discussion forum. It may be the biggest forum to date; however, that doesn't give it license to be a regulator.
  7. jebey29

    jebey29 Super Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 20, 2009
    How about im an adult and am quite capable of deciding for myself what the risks are.

    ECF's Tag line is "THE PLACE ON THE WEB TO DISCUSS ALL THINGS E-CIGARETTE." This is a forum that should allow the free flow of information both good and bad.

    In my opinion the OPS post is suggesting that people are stupid and do stupid things therefore ECF knows better than them so we will just regulate them. This sounds so much like what is happening in our country today.

    I say no thanks. Im proud of the fact that all of the manufacturers down to the last one refused to participate.

    Why dont we just ban all e-cigs and lets go back to inhaling 2400 known carcinogens and harmful substances into our body.

    I joined ECF because of the free flow of information and the availability of reliable information of products/manufacturers. That is what a forum does. It is not a regulatory agency or enforcement arm of anything. If you feel the need to warn consumers about the dangers of Mods then that is exactly what the forum is set up to do. But what you are proposing and trying to establish goes beyond the scope of ECF. If you are changing your mission statement that is your right to do so but all forum members should also be informed of this change so that we can decide for ourselves whether to continue our support of the forum.
  8. keyzygirl

    keyzygirl ECF Guru ECF Veteran

    Aug 10, 2009
    Key West,Fl.
    I think its more about liability than control.
  9. ZambucaLu

    ZambucaLu ECF Guru ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Nov 23, 2008
    Central NY, USA
    And this is the point. Don't we all know how 'sue happy' people are these days? And does the law care that you were negligent? How about the dumbo who spilled the hot McD coffee on herself then goes on to sue them....and win! Or all those people suing the tobacco companies because they got cancer from smoking? If you think liability is solely limited to the end user, you're nuts!

    Sorry, but to use this most recent event as an example....what if this member didn't have glasses on and the hot piece struck his eye....causing blindness or worse yet, loss of the eye? Think it can't happen? And haven't you seen those commercials by attorneys 'Had an accident, call us!'? Any attorney would jump on something like this. All it takes is a serious enough injury....and a party willing to sue...and somebody is going to the cleaners.

    And this isn't just about ECF....something like this could have an impact on any ecig forum that promotes sales. And what about the modders themselves? What if this member had lost an eye? Think Jeff wouldn't be paying out the ....? And even if he were to win, the whole legal process and cost would be horrendous. What would he have left afterward? What would ECF (or any of the smaller forums) have left after such a legal battle?

    ECF isn't trying to tell anyone what to buy, make or sell. But not only do we have an obligation to keep members informed of possible dangers, but we also have the right to protect ECF as a whole. And other forums, manufacturers and sellers should be looking to cover their butts as well.

    And you come in saying 'I'm an adult and I don't want anyone telling me what to do'. Well guess what, when the chit hits the fan, and someone suffers some serious grievous bodily damage due to an ecig explosion, nobody's going to care that you're an adult....all anyone is going to see is big $$$$$$.

    I have written to the one attorney I know of on this forum and asked for her input. Maybe she'll comment. Any legal opinion would be better than nothing. So before ya'll start jumping on the 'Don't tell me what to do' bandwagon, perhaps you need to really look at the possibilities and try to come up with some sort of solutions to protect all involved rather than being so concerned about your status as an adult. You say you are for the vaping community, then let's figure it out.

    That's all for now.

  10. jebey29

    jebey29 Super Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 20, 2009

    I have a business attorney, tax attorney, divorce attorney and many accountants. There is no liability here. $500 and 2 hours with an attorney could easily alleviate these unfounded and baseless fears.

    This is a neighborhood discussion board. You do not get sued or held liable for what your neighbors do.

    Do you think NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC is worried about liability suits because they let Toyota advertise on their networks? Of course not. The networks do nothing more than provide a platform for Toyota to speak. That is what ECF does.

    Or how about your neighborhood ballpark where children play t-ball and soccer. Do you think the ballpark can be held liable for the companies they sold advertising to? This is absurd and for the life of me can't figure out why this has even become an issue.
  11. jebey29

    jebey29 Super Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 20, 2009
    You can't prevent baseless lawsuits. I get sued no less than 8 times a year. How many of those cases have I lost? In 8 years i have not lost a case yet.Whether someone has a case or not is not the point to opposing attorneys. Its the game and cost of litigation. Its shrewd extortion. You pay me and my client this or im going to sue you. Some business give in and pay, I do not. And I don't lose a dime. The wonderful thing about the legal system is if you bring an action against someone and you lose then you can be held liable for the attorney fees of the person you are suing.
  12. Scott EE

    Scott EE Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Jan 18, 2010
    Virginia USA
    Regarding two 2mm drilled vent holes in mods to vent any gas. I think people would be inclined to thread a lanyard through them with various diameter cords thereby blocking the venting. Just what I thought about when I read about two drilled holes.
  13. tdstrike

    tdstrike Super Member ECF Veteran

    if ECF is concerned about liability, it's pretty obvious what they need to do, not allow mods to be sold on their forum, nix the modder section, ban mod sales in the classifieds,
    basically kill a portion of the boards revenue stream. Are you guys ready to go down that road? cuzz from where I stand, you can't have it both ways can you?
  14. CellWho

    CellWho Super Member ECF Veteran

    Feb 19, 2009
    Ontario, Canada
    "What we need to do is make sure we don't get sued, and that people can make an informed choice on what to buy. Simple as that."

    Ok, so we get it. This is about legal protection. So why not just focus on that. If you include an indemnification agreement as part of the terms and services of the site, then that should cover the legal issue. At that point, it is just about providing the information as Nuck suggested. You can require every member select a box and click submit on their next login to accept the agreement, and have new members do the same.

    Has ECF sought legal advice? If they were to sue, where would the action take place? I'm guessing that because the staff resides in the UK, and the hosting is in UK, that any motion would have to be initiated in the UK. If this is the case, then you would only require one indemnification agreement drafted by a lawyer in the UK. It would require minimal cost and effort, and would address the issue.

    If you are concerned about the perception of having "approved" suppliers, then maybe you should remove the term. ECF is an online forum that sells advertising space. Complicating the situation doesn't seem to serve any purpose.
  15. CellWho

    CellWho Super Member ECF Veteran

    Feb 19, 2009
    Ontario, Canada
    The site is run in the UK, and like Canada they do not have the type of frivolous law suites as in the US. This is partially because the winning side can put forth a motion for legal costs. If it's a bogus suite, then you pay costs.
  16. Kimmy

    Kimmy Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 3, 2009
    I think safety precautions need to be taken. A lawsuit or serious injury could result, bringing national attention to our ecigs. It would not help our cause. It would give them another excuse to ban e cigarettes! Not taking safety measures will just give the FDA and other opponents more fuel to add to the fire. I can see the headline now "Ecigarettes have ingredients of anti freeze, AND can blow up in user's faces"

    I think safety should be a priority, not everyone is gadget savy, and some need more instructions than others.

    I think a list of approved batteries would go a long way. I notice some of the mods websites don't sell batteries, which forces you to go elsewhere. Having the website who is selling the mod, also sell approved and safe batteries would go a long way.

    ECF is about discussion, but also about trying to help our cause.

    I agree with informing everyone and posting suggestions, but not allowing suppliers to be a part of ECF, I do not agree with.

    Just my 2 cents.
  17. Deena

    Deena Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 25, 2009
    Well, I don't think I'm nuts, but I could be wrong:oops: but I think the laws on product liability apply if the product is manufactured in a defective way, not if the end user uses them in a way outside of intended use. Here's some information on liability: Product Liability - Negligence and Product Liability - Strict Liability.

    The case you sited is the Liebeck vs. McDonald's case and I don't think that's a very good analogy. The case has taken on urban legend status because it's represented as a case where someone basically burned their tongue on some coffee and received millions. But here's what really happened:

    I included this extremely long note about the case because it seems to always be used to show how companies are being exploited by users, but I don't necessarily see that as the case. And, in the case of liability, including strict liability, I don't see how a case would have any standing if the user modded a device. I could be wrong, but a mod, by definition, means modified from original use. Here's more on liability: Making a Product Liability Claim -
  18. Martin2277

    Martin2277 Super Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Aug 28, 2009
    Tempe, AZ
    This whole discussion seams to be based on Batteries and there dangers. If you take a look at one of the Flashlight forums there is the same talk about the Batteries but you do not see them "Requiring" Flashlight manufactures to drill vent holes or use different electrical components to ensure the battery has a safe way of venting. Flashlights are very sealed. Made to be used underwater. If a short happened with say the Light they would have the same problems as an ecig.

    The warning needs to be placed in the right spots, on the Batteries. More education about batteries and what can happen should be done. Some suppliers have already denounced the use of 6v in there mods and have started threads educating members about the hazards of the Batteries we use.

    The only mods I own have safety features that I have found works for me. Many do not have two or three vent holes as described in the op. The vent holes do not make me feel better about my safety. They make me think about what kind of tricks they will do if a battery decides to vent. Will it be a rocket? Will it spin off into the sky? I can see it now.... "Look mom its a bird its a plane nope its an ecig!!!!"

    Well this is my opinion. We need to provided more education on the Batteries. The problem with providing information is that some people will not look at it. The suppliers of the mods should not have to pass a "ECF approval" on new mods. This would make ECF an approving party and I am sure liable.
  19. Dacoopah

    Dacoopah Moved On ECF Veteran

    Jun 20, 2009
    I would suggest seeking legal council outside of this forum Roly. If it truly is that important to you to protect ECF as a business, then why in the world would you not?

    If you're looking for free legal advice here, you should remember that you often get what you pay for.

    About the "ECF Approved Suppliers" - what exactly are you approving, their ability to pay a fee to ECF on a monthly basis? Where is the list of criteria for meeting "approved" status? You do open yourself to liability by using the term "approved" because you imply that a supplier meets some sort of standard. That's a big difference between ECF and, say, ABC in terms of advertising and sponsorship. ABC is not claiming anything about the entity doing the advertising. By labeling suppliers as "approved" vs. "paid", you are definitely making a claim of some sort.
  20. PlanetScribbles

    PlanetScribbles Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Aug 3, 2009
    Londinium, Brittania
    Your argument kind of comes across as stating that no one consumer's individual right to liberty is really that relevant, rather it is the liberty of all consumers that is more important.
    I would counter that by merely stating that the masses are composed of many of these like minded individuals. The masses are the whole collaboration of these individual consumers as one very large group of like minded people.
    To state that the single consumer should not think selfishly is akin to telling every consumer, as single entities, to accept the status quo regardless of their individual feelings on the matter. That ain't right.
    Just because a few individuals are law suit happy doesn't mean they should be appeased to the detriment of the majority.
    If I use a notebook computer on my lap, whilst wearing shorts, and burn my legs as a result, that is my own stupidity for not knowing that laptops no longer run at 300mhz. It certainly isn't the fault of the notebook manufacturer for using a chip that runs at 2.4ghz.
    I don't want to just run with the equilibrium, and I think that the majority of ECF users think that way too. That is what separates vapers from smokers, their ability to choose for themselves and practice self-harm reduction.
    When the chit hits the fan, and that one person loses an eye from ignoring the warnings against using unprotected batteries, then that is their own darned fault. No-one elses. Jaywalking is a dangerous activity, but people do it regardless. It's the nature of people to take risks. That should be at their own discretion.
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